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National Eggnog Day

Eggnog, also known as egg nog or egg-nog, and milk punch or egg milk punch when alcohol is added, is usually made with milk, cream, sugar, and whipped eggs. It can be homemade or purchased at the store, and distilled spirits such as rum, brandy, whiskey, and bourbon are often added. Homemade recipes vary, and since they often use raw eggs, there is a concern that the eggs may contain salmonella, which may lead to food poisoning. The commercial variety usually contains less cream and eggs than the homemade version, and thickeners such as gelatin are used instead. Eggnog is often topped with cinnamon and nutmeg, and is sometimes topped with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, or a vanilla pod. It is popular in the United States during the Christmas season—from Thanksgiving until the new year, and is usually served cold, but can be served warm. It can also be added to other drinks such as coffee.

The history of eggnog is debated, but the drink seems have come from a British drink called posset, which was popular from medieval times until the nineteenth century. It consisted of hot milk with wine or ale, and eggs were sometimes added. The drink that would come to be called eggnog also was invented in Britain. As it used expensive ingredients, it was popular with the rich, and they often used the drink in toasts. Eggnog came to the American colonies in the eighteenth century, and this is where it gained its name as well. The word "nog" was first used in 1693 in England, to describe a strong beer. "Noggin" was a small carved wooden mug that was used in England. One theory says that the drink gained the name "eggnog" in colonial America after a nickname for rum, "grog," was combined with the name of the mugs it was served in—noggin mugs—to create "egg-n-grog," and then eggnog. Another theory is that the name stemmed from nugged ale—which was a term for an ale warmed with a hot poker.

It was also during colonial times that eggnog began being associated with the Christmas season, and even George Washington served a variation of eggnog to visitors. Rum was originally the spirit of choice for the drink, as it could be gotten cheaply through the Triangular Trade with the Caribbean, while brandy and wine were heavily taxed. Because of this, and the abundance of dairy products, eggnog became very popular with colonists. After the Revolutionary War, the supply of rum was reduced, and newly free Americans turned to domestic whiskey, and then to bourbon in particular, to add to their eggnog. Sometimes moonshine was also used. Today, no matter if the drink has spirits in it or not, it is wildly popular during the Christmas season, which makes it fitting that National Eggnog Day takes place on Christmas Eve.

How to Observe National Eggnog Day

Celebrate the day by having some eggnog! Buy some at the store or make your own. If you are looking for an alcohol filled version, you could make legendary jazz musician Charles Mingus' recipe. An eggnog cocktail called Tom and Jerry was invented in the 1820s, and is a popular traditional Christmas drink that could also be made.

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