Eight Questions You Have Every Right To Ask About Eggnog

3. When did eggnog originate?

Wikipedia thinks, at least, that nogs may be descended from milk-based drinks called possets, which are basically Medieval medical tonics, served hot, that often contained hot milk, ale, sugar, spices, and sometimes whipped egg, according to the Food Lover's Companion. Plausible.

Others believe that eggnog was invented in America during colonial times, and that the term is a corruption of "egg and grog" ("grog" meaning rum), a beverage perhaps more awful than we can even contemplate. In this version of the story, rum is always the designated alcoholic mixer because that alcohol, part of the so-called Slave Triangle, was the cheapest and most prevalent form of alcohol in the colonies, until it was replaced in cheapness by raw American-made whisky sometime around 1800.

4. Why Is Eggnog more popular in the United States than anywhere else?

Could this be John Smith and his pals drinking eggnog?
Well, there is the origin story, above, which is partly borne out by anecdotes about famous incidents involving eggnog in the colonial times and the early history of the Republic. In a story I did for Salon six years ago, I unearthed a tale about Captain John Smith wassailing eggnog way back in 1607 Jamestown, Virginia.

According to the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, the first reference to eggnog in print on these shores occurred in an account of a breakfast served at the City Tavern in Philadelphia in 1796, and the earliest cookbook to offer a recipe was published in 1836.

Once again according to Wikipedia, something hilariously referred to as the Eggnog Riot happened at West Point in 1826 just before Christmas, when whiskey was smuggled into the military academy to make eggnog, and the drunken cadets went berserk. Court marshalls were handed out to 20 students and one enlisted man afterwards.

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