I, like many people, have long been repulsed by the pungent bubblegum odor of eggnog, the infamous egg-based holiday drink. Every year, when the frigid winter air blows through, I overlook the sticky concoction, opting instead for a steaming mug of hot chocolate. But, this holiday season, I decided it was time to overcome this aversion of mine. Over one week, I sampled four different types of eggnog, in an attempt to convert myself from an naysayer to an enthusiast.
Trader Joe’s O’Nog Non-Dairy Oat Beverage – ⅕
Going in, my hopes were not high for this vegan eggnog alternative. But, somehow, Trader Joe’s O’Nog Non-Dairy Oat Beverage still managed to fall short of my rock-bottom expectations.
As a life-long pescetarian, I have dabbled in the realm of vegan alternatives, so it was not the overwhelming absence of milk and egg that turned me off to the idea of this. Instead, it was the main ingredient that made my heart drop to my feet: water.
Now, I love water just as much as the next person, but when I am sitting at my dining room table preparing to take a sip of an unfamiliar concoction, I do not want to see an ingredient list topped by water, oats and sunflower oil.
Still, I took a deep breath and persevered.
As it poured from the carton, the eggnog looked more reminiscent of a sandy puddle than a holiday treat. With its light brown, slightly gray coloring, it reminded me more of sewage than a festive holiday drink. Still, I maintained the slightest inkling of hope.
That hope was misplaced. As soon as the beverage touched my lips, I regretted every decision leading up to this point.
To describe this taste in its entirety would be entirely useless because there was none. Really, it was much more of an essence. It felt almost like there was nutmeg and cream a few moments prior, but they disappeared shortly before I took a sip, so I was left with a mouthful of nothing. I spent $4 on nutmeg water.
Safe to say, I left this tasting hating eggnog more than I did when I began.
Trader Joe’s Light Egg Nog – ⅕
I try to give credit where credit is due, but for this chemically-infused pasteurized egg concoction, I struggle to come up with anything even remotely reminiscent of a compliment.
Looking at the liquid in the cup, I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach.
The eggnog was yellow, and not a pale yellow that could be mistaken for cream. It was probably three shades removed from the color of an egg’s yolk — a bright, viscus yellow.
But, the color was not even the worst part. As soon as I got a whiff of the drink, the pungent smell of nail polish seared my nostrils.
Still, despite all of these red flags, I chose to close my eyes and take a sip, and immediately, I was punished for my blind faith.
Upon initial contact with my tastebuds, the far-too-liquidy drink reminded me of liquified eggs with a dollop of sugar and a sprinkling of nutmeg. But, nothing could have prepared me for the aftertaste that came just one minute later.
It was awful. It tasted like I had coated my tongue in putrid, chemical filth.
In mere seconds, I had downed a glass of water in a desperate attempt to rid my taste buds of this horrible flavor.
All I know is if I was Trader Joe, I would be ashamed of myself and the state of my company.
Sacramento Food Co-op Eggnog – 2/5
Unlike the two previous Trader Joe’s attempts at something edible, this eggnog was not spectacularly bad, but it was not good either.
In terms of its looks, it was exactly what I expected from the holiday drink. With its light cream coloring and little speckles of seasoning, it definitely had potential for something great.
However, its runniness became apparent as I began to tilt the cup in my direction.
When it comes to beverages like smoothies, shakes, and, of course, eggnog, I tend to look for a thicker consistency, something more like heavy whipping cream.
With this drink, that hope was squashed. It was only slightly thicker than milk, and the telltale bubblegum scent of eggnog was somewhat overwhelming.
When it came to the flavor itself, I was left wondering how exactly eggnog maintains its dedicated fanbase of fanatics.
It was overpoweringly sweet, likely due to its 18 grams of sugar, and the hint of chemical preservatives was evident.
Of course, the nutmeg and cream were pleasant in contrast, but they could only manage to do so much. The drink was mediocre at best, and I was growing increasingly certain that I would never find myself buying eggnog again.
Lauren Allen’s Homemade Eggnog – ⅘
By the time I came around to making this eggnog, I had lost complete hope in the sweet winter drink. But, as soon as I took a sip of this delicacy, I converted into a fan.
After scouring the pages of google, I decided on Lauren Allen’s Homemade Eggnog recipe, a last-ditch attempt to incite a love of eggnog.
The recipe was fairly straightforward, and its common ingredients were already in my pantry.
So, after 20 minutes of whisking, pouring, and waiting, I was ready to put my concoction into the fridge to let it chill. The following morning, I returned for a taste test.
Upon first glance, my eggnog looked like sludge, but when I poured it from the pitcher to a cup, I found it had just what I was seeking all along.
It was a light tan coloring with a smooth but thick consistency.
When I took a sip, I was greeted with a creamy, nutmeg flavor, and I could not help but notice the absence of bubblegum fragrance.
At this point, I realized that my dislike for eggnog stemmed from its overly sweet and synthetic flavoring. But, by making it at home, all of that was prevented. Now, it was just a good old-fashioned, silky smooth refreshment, and I was hooked.
After what seemed to be an uphill battle, I have found the eggnog to beat all eggnogs. Lauren Allen’s Homemade Eggnog recipe beats out the rest, and although I would not go so far as to call myself an eggnog enthusiast, I definitely will not be hating quite so aggressively.
— By Simone DeBerry
Originally published in the Dec. 13 edition of The Octagon