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What the Hell Happened to Eggnog?

December 1, 2010

Three thousand years of beautiful tradition, from Moses to Sandy Koufax…you’re goddamn right I’m living in the fucking past!
-
Walter Sobchak

Happy almost-Chanukah.  Tonight at sundown it begins.  Hope all your shopping is done.  The good news is that since Chanukah ends early this year, Thursday, December 9, you can quit with that Happy Holidays nonsense, and just start wishing everybody a Merry Christmas.  At least, that’s my plan.

So you may be asking yourself, what does a nice Jewish boy from California know from eggnog?  Well, first I’m not from California and second I’m not so nice.  But for some reason when I was growing up as a kid eggnog was always a part of the holiday time.

Granted, when I say eggnog, I’m talking about the stuff that you buy in cartons from the store and give to kids, not the stuff you make at home with raw eggs and spike with booze.  Although I’m happy to report that after many December trips to the Pennsylvania farm, my father-in-law is finally ready to make me his storied boozy potion for the upcoming visit later this month.

That said, have you looked at the ingredients in a carton of eggnog recently?

Here is just one example from a major regional dairy that makes what is apparently the #1 selling eggnog in New England:

MILK, CREAM, SUGAR, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, EGG YOLKS, FAT FREE MILK, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, GUAR GUM, SALT, CARRAGEENAN, MONO & DIGLYCERIDES, RED 40, YELLOW 5 & 6.

I feel like there will probably be a post about artificial colors in the not too distant future.  Now sure, there is the usual ugly suspect of HFCS, and I am inclined to believe that the mono & diglycerides regrettably are inextricable from most cream these days.  But artificial flavors?  And fat-free milk?

Here is what that same regional dairy has to say about their eggnog:

Hood® Golden EggNog has been a New England family favorite for more than 50 years. Hood’s secret recipe blends extra creamy milk with sugared egg yolks and a combination of flavoring and spices.

I do have to acknowledge that perhaps I am romanticizing the eggnog cartons of my youth.  After all, I didn’t read labels as a kid, nor did I have the righteous indignation of being charged a premium for expensive butterfat while receiving a product packed full of fat-free milk, gums, and cheap alternatives to table sugar.

But it would seem that the carrageenan industry began in the 1930s and the guar gum industry developed in the 1940s.  Granted, HFCS really didn’t get going until the mid 1960s. So there should have at least been a time when the Hood eggnog was purely sweetened with sugar.

There may have even been a time when one could easily buy a carton of eggnog from the store that wasn’t packed full of food gums.  When the thickness and weight of this once-a-year treat was actually just decadent cream, whole milk and egg yolks, with only sugar and spices added for flavor.

Bah, humbug.  I want to buy a carton of eggnog at the store.  It’s part of my holiday tradition.  But I don’t want the dreck I’ve been finding on the local grocers shelves.  I’ll wait until I’m down on the farm and hold out for the good stuff.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Stevo permalink
    December 1, 2010 10:47 am

    I’m with you man. It’s so frustrating that so many products today are science experiments more than real food.

  2. December 1, 2010 11:01 am

    Another point that I’m not sure if you’ve noticed: I was in the supermarket in Vorheesville (one of the smaller Hannafords in the capital region) and they have a line of Hood Egg Nogs. From left to right, the display contains “Egg Nog, “Light Egg Nog,” “Sugar Cookie Egg Nog,” “Gingerbread Egg Nog,” and “Pumpkin Egg Nog.” Do we really need to jazz up egg nog with other holiday/seasonal flavors?

  3. Phairhead permalink
    December 1, 2010 11:12 am

    Check out the season 3 Christmas episode of The Office.

  4. December 1, 2010 11:29 am

    HWFC has organic egg nog, in a carton no less. It’s probably ultra pasturized, though ;-)

    I am happy to help with market research on this one. Including attempting from scratch.

  5. Chris permalink
    December 1, 2010 11:32 am

    Kind of like the fat-free half and half. Half water, half chemicals.

  6. RealFoodMom permalink
    December 1, 2010 1:15 pm

    All commercial eggnog I’ve tasted lately is WAY WAY too sweet. Sweeter than I remember it from childhood. Yuck. I’ll have to try the organic one to see how it measures up. Thanks for the tip, Leah.

  7. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    December 1, 2010 1:19 pm

    Eggnog should be made from scratch, in your kitchen, or not made at all.

  8. December 1, 2010 3:16 pm

    Thanks for reminding me to phone Meadowbrook Farms and set up delivery. I hear great things about their milk, service and eggnog.

  9. MiMi permalink
    December 1, 2010 4:04 pm

    I’ve no idea of the ingredients, but have you looked at Stewart’s Premium Egg Nog?

  10. lakesider permalink
    December 1, 2010 9:56 pm

    Appreciate all the comments about eggnog ingredients. I just find it perplexing that this post comes after one about hot dogs. If there was ever a food stuff full of additives it’s the hot dog. Seems like you want to have your “hot dog” and drink it too, with pristine eggnog. Why is it some chemically-laden food are “kosher” with you and other are bashed. Seems a little inconsistent…just asking.

  11. Ellen Whitby permalink
    December 2, 2010 12:32 am

    If I were to guess, I’d say after a few rounds of booze-infused Nog (natural or not), you’d be in a much better mood.

    Happy Chanukah.

  12. December 2, 2010 12:56 am

    Daniel, Happy Chanukah!

    We’re going to be doing Christmas drinks starting late next week, so hopefully we’ll give you a good reason to skip the cartons this year. I do, however, miss the Jack Daniels brand Eggnog I used to be able to find.

  13. December 2, 2010 4:11 am

    Yuck. That really makes me want to skip the store-bought eggnog this year… But I don’t know if I’m adventurous enough to try making it myself. Hmm.

  14. December 2, 2010 7:48 pm

    There’s still the Solstice after Hanukkah, too…

  15. December 4, 2010 2:57 am

    1. Researched Stewarts Premium Eggnog. First three ingredients are milk, sugar and cream. It does have HFCS and Guar Gum. Their Light Eggnog has Milk as the first ingredient, and fewer preservatives, due to the lower fat content. Both use tumeric for coloring.

    2. Turned said eggnog into a bread pudding made with donuts in honor of Chanukah and all of its fried food glory. Recipe up on Noshing Confessions: http://www.noshingconfessions.com/2010/12/kosher-bubble-n-squeak-and-donut-eggnog.html

  16. Judy K. permalink
    December 4, 2010 11:30 am

    It’s not available in the capital region, but Ithaca-based Purity Ice Cream makes the best eggnog by far. Based on their website (purityeggnog.com), it’s made with just 8 ingredients ( milk, cream, sugar, eggs, milk powder, gelatin, pure vanilla, salt), and uses rBST free milk and cream. I used to get it when I lived in Ithaca, it’s really good. The website has a “where to buy” section – you can get it in Syracuse and various other Finger Lakes/Western NY stores (Some Wegmans stores carry it) . Sounds like a road trip might be in order.

  17. Kong Torben X permalink
    December 5, 2010 1:54 am

    I have to say, Battenkill Creamery makes a decent Nogg…

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