Posted Friday, Dec 22, 2023
I love eggnog, but as a kid, I wouldn’t touch the stuff (non-alcoholic, obviously)- and it all stemmed from the name. For some odd reason, I hated eggs, and I wouldn’t consume anything that contained them. And since eggnog was so bold as to put egg in its name, I exuberantly defied the drinking thereof. I’m not sure when I converted, but at some point I enjoyed a cup, and I’ve never looked back; sometimes you have to try something new. But I still wonder about its name. I mean, it doesn’t taste particularly eggish even though some recipes do, in fact, include eggs. But it’s the “nog” part that really intrigues me. So, I decided to research it. Since you may be an eggnog enjoyer who wonders about the etymology of this rich, spicy drink, I thought I’d share my findings with you.
Theory 1: Milk and cream based alcoholic drinks (usually based on wine) go back centuries in Europe, but in Colonial America, rum was substituted for the wine. And it was the inclusion of rum that may have given eggnog its odd name. Although the term grog originally referred to watered-down rum that sustained sailors in the British Navy, during the colonial period, many Americans referred to straight-up rum as grog. Hence, many Colonists imbibed a festive drink they called egg and grog (egg-n-grog). It’s easy to see how that name would quickly devolve into eggnog (egg-n-og).
Theory 2: In colonial taverns, alcoholic beverages were served in a couple of different types of cups, one of which was a small wooden cup called a noggin. So, if a Colonist ordered this Christmas beverage, he/she would order egg-in-a-noggin. Once again, it’s easy to see how the name would easily change into eggnog.
So there you have it: the not so definitive origins of the term eggnog. Cheers!