Eggnog … why? Let’s explore a few of the best manifestations of this controversial holiday beverage to discover who comes out on top.
by Max Fisher
Whom doth have the finest ‘nog in Buff Niag?
Since the beginning of the season, one word has been flashing in my mind’s eye constantly like a neon sign “Why?” Upon probing deeper inside myself, I was able to pull out a question, thus putting the word in context “Why do people like eggnog?” I’ve always found it somewhat bewildering as a Christmas staple. I understand the appeal of the others. People like gingerbread because who doesn’t love edible houses and appliances, and you can put gumdrop buttons on a gingerbread man, making him look like a suave elegant editable gentleman, fun! Snowball fights, obnoxious Christmas songs that make you beg Santa for earplugs, big trees you keep in the house 3 months after Christmas because of a mixture of laziness and a delusional sense of preserving the holiday spirit (it’s March, time to let go). I can wrap my head around all that, but eggs, milk, and flavoring mixed together to the point that the resulting mixture is so rich after half glass tears might spontaneously appear.
I just never found the appeal, honestly.
Still, this year is a year of change and discovery, so I decided to get 4 different eggnogs, some from the supermarket, one from the Lexington co-op, and one from a local dairy farm, all of which possess the ability to make me cry. So with my glass in hand and the cartons of nog in my immediate view, let’s see if I can answer this burning question!
Horizon Organic Low Fat ‘Nog
First up Horizon Organic Low Fat eggnog with vitamin A (kids, eggnog is not a good source of vitamins despite what the bottle may say). The package has a leaping cartoon cow on the front, and in the background is the world (I don’t really get it from a branding perspective but, Don Draper, I am not). Pouring it, it has a nice even consistency with a creamy white color reminiscent of finely beaten eggs. The taste is smooth, not too sweet, and doesn’t taste chemically refined, which is a plus. There’s a small hint of nutmeg, maybe cinnamon, which rounds out the flavor nicely. I’d give this one a thumbs up, it tastes good, and the flavor isn’t overbearing. I’d say we’re off to a good start!
Upstate Farms ‘Nog
Upstate Farms Original Eggnog is next. The package of the bottle leaves a bit to be desired. It just says the title in a gold holiday font over a green background with a red farm. The pour seems watery, and the color is a yellowish hue reminiscent of runny pancake batter. As for the taste, imagine a bland holiday pudding with a hint of nutmeg, then imagine that holiday pudding was repackaged as eggnog and sold at a higher price. Now imagine my disgruntled face after realizing this. It’s not quite Grinch levels of anger, but more in line with a Scourge Esque malaise.
I’d have to give this one a pass. There’s no wow factor, just an all-around package that screams meh, skip this, and stick to the pudding.
Organic Valley ‘Nog
Next up is Organic Valley Eggnog (after seeing two organic eggnogs on the list you might be asking “what exactly is organic eggnog? To which I’d reply “Good marketing.”). Right off the bat, this one has the best packaging. It’s very festive with the cover font in red, resembling a pleasant welcome sign you might find at a quaint mom and pop holiday gift store, and a picture of a small cow being pushed on a sled by a child in the snow. The only thing about the packaging that gives me pause is it says “freshest tasting within 5 days” What does that mean? Is it likely after 5 days, it just turns into an organic syrupy mess? The pour is nice but a bit watery like the last one, which already has me mildly concerned. The color is of a creamy white, but there are visible specks in it, which I’m assuming to be nutmeg (it’s inescapable in this stuff). The taste is creamy with a hint of nutmeg and vanilla. I must admit I’m grateful for the slight change the vanilla brings. I’m not saying it’s transporting me to a new galaxy of flavor or anything, but after having three of these, it’s nice to taste something other than nutmeg. If you’re in the mood for a slight curveball in the eggnog formula, I’d say give this one a try!
Hoover’s Dairy Farm
Hoover’s Dairy ‘Nog – the official winner
Lastly, the eggnog from Hoover’s Dairy Farm is next. The packaging is confidentiality bland. It’s just the nog in an old-style milk bottle reminiscent of the 40s. Other than the bottle lid, which displays the farm’s name, there’s no pictures, or festive fonts, just a bottle of nog you’d think the milkman delivered. The pour has a nice even consistency, and it has a lovely golden hue. Could this be something special? Yes, it is indeed. At this very moment, I’m trying my best to hold back the tears while writing this. It’s that good! If you could have an epiphany in a glass, I’d imagine this would be it. The taste is nothing less than a delicate cream caressing your taste buds with every sip. It’s creamy but not overly so, it strikes the right balance between the flavor being full but still being flavorful, and it’s not too sweet. Well, I just waxed poetic about the stuff for about a paragraph, so I guess we have a winner! I’m going, to be honest, folks, I sincerely thought that by the end of this, all the eggnog would be in the drain (which is where that organic upstate Farm nog is headed, I assure you). And even though I’m still not a vignette crusader for this particular beverage, I must say after having some of that nog from Hoover’s Dairy, I see the appeal.
Local, as usual, has the leg up
So in my humble opinion, skip the co-op, drive past Wegmans or any other chain market, and drive straight to Hoover’s Dairy in Sanborn. I promise you’ll be a bonafide holiday hero to your friends and family, because their ‘nog really just is that good! Like George Washington, I like big ‘nog and I cannot lie.
So please everyone – enjoy the ‘nog and a very Merry Christmas!