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Eggnog, or egg nog, is a sweetened dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, and beaten eggs (which gives it a frothy texture). Brandy, rum, whisky, bourbon, Kahlúa, vodka, or a combination of liquors are often added; and the finished serving would be garnished with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg.
Eggnog is a popular drink throughout the United States and Canada, and is usually associated with winter celebrations such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. Commercial non-alcoholic eggnog is typically available only in the winter season. Eggnog may be added as a flavoring to food or drinks such as coffee and tea. Eggnog as a custard can also be used as an ice cream base.
The origins, etymology, and the ingredients used to make the original eggnog drink are debated. Eggnog may have originated in East Anglia, England; or it may have simply developed from posset, a medieval European beverage made with hot milk. The "nog" part of its name may stem from the word noggin, a Middle English term for a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol. However, the British drink was also called an Egg Flip (from the practice of "flipping" (rapidly pouring) the mixture between two pitchers to mix it).
The drink crossed the Atlantic to the English colonies during the 18th century. Since brandy and wine were heavily taxed, rum from the Triangular Trade with the Caribbean was a cost-effective substitute. The inexpensive liquor, coupled with plentiful farm and dairy products, helped the drink become very popular in America. When the supply of rum to the newly-founded United States was reduced as a consequence of the American Revolutionary War, Americans turned to domestic whiskey, and eventually bourbon in particular, as a substitute.
The Eggnog Riot occurred at the United States Military Academy on 24–25 December 1826. Whiskey was smuggled into the barracks to make eggnog for a Christmas Day party. The incident resulted in the court-martialing of twenty cadets and one enlisted soldier.
Traditional eggnog typically consists of milk, sugar, raw eggs, and spices, usually nutmeg. Cream may be included to make a richer and thicker drink, though some modern eggnogs add gelatin. Vanilla is a common flavoring, with grated nutmeg sprinkled on top. Other toppings include whipped cream, meringue, cinnamon, ice cream, and chocolate curls.
Eggnog can be homemade from recipes. Ready-made eggnog versions are seasonally available and may contain whiskey, rum, brandy, bourbon, or cognac. Also available are "mixes" that contain all the ingredients except the liquor. With these the end-user can tailor the strength of the drink, from rather strong, to only a taste of liquor, to no liquor at all (for children or teetotalers).
Though eggnog is high in fat and cholesterol, low-fat and no-sugar formulations are available using skimmed or lowfat milk. Some North American manufacturers offer soy, rice or coconut milk-based alternatives for vegans and those with dairy allergies.
Under current U.S. law, commercial products sold as eggnog are permitted to contain milk, sugar, modified milk ingredients, glucose-fructose, water, carrageenan, guar gum, natural and artificial flavorings, spices (though not necessarily nutmeg), monoglycerides, and colorings. The ingredients in commercial eggnog vary significantly, but generally raw eggs are not included.
Some recipes for homemade eggnog call for egg yolks to be cooked with milk into a custard to avoid potential hazards from raw eggs; eggnog has much in common with classic custard-pudding recipes that do not call for corn starch, and many types of eggnog can also be cooked into egg-custard puddings.
For concerns about the safety of selling products made from raw eggs and milk, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed or altered the definition of eggnog a number of times towards artificial replacements for the large number of eggs traditionally required. Modern FDA regulations permit eggnog to contain less than 1% egg yolk solids and "milk or milk products."
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