Although the leaves on the trees have not yet begun to turn the bright hues that signify fall, the delicious seasonal drink that marks the commencement of yet another fall/winter season, is already making headlines. Though current headlines regarding an explosion in New Jersey are not consistent with the creamy, festive, frothy and delicious descriptions typically associated with eggnog, it is on the mind and encouraging cravings and anticipation of a time of year unlike any other. It not only signifies the changing of the season, but the guarantee of warm fires, family and friends. With the eggnog time of year just around the corner, a mere 50 days until the Autumnal Equinox, it is most certain that the seasonal tradition will continue to make headlines, though hopefully for the more traditional and delicious reasons.
Eggnog, though not usually known for making headlines, unless it is the menu at the local coffee shop, is known for bringing joy, warmth and seasonal flavor to coffee stands and holiday parties near and far. It is a long-standing seasonal tradition that is coveted by some: anxiously anticipated for lattes, pancakes, muffins and to spike with rum. It signifies the warmth of Christmas-time and the holiday tradition of making things from scratch. However, not everyone is a fan. Even though it is a staple of every holiday party there is still a solid division of lovers and haters of the festive drink.
To some, even including people whom actually purchase the beverage, eggnog is disgusting and mysterious and avoided at all costs. Raw eggs and the thick, milky texture, and often booze, all in one sparkly punch-bowl is just not for some. A few people are appeased by the promise of said booze but in most cases even that does little to change the unabashed distaste for the drink that some are just seemingly born with. In fact it tends to seem pretty evenly divided: love it or hate it. What is interesting is that this seems to have been the case since the drink’s inception in England in the 14th century.
Though eggnog is not the seasonal tradition it once was in England, it is as popular as ever in the states. Grocery stores and coffee stands, not to mention bakeries, restaurants and candy makers, are seeing the availability of the drink, flavor and specialty item earlier each year. In most places the beverage is available as early as Halloween. Starbucks is even rumored to start serving their famous “eggnog latte” as early as November 3. Of course, this is no doubt a supply and demand effect. In a market where back-to-school sales start in June (yes the month school lets out), and Valentine’s Day hearts, bears and balloons are on store shelves the day after Christmas, the “nog” needs to stay competitive. While there is nothing immediately competitive with it, there is always an alternative or new offering patrons are being enticed to try.
As the next-best and less disgusting seasonal tradition is always just around the corner, eggnog has its work cut out for it. It is such a long-standing seasonal institution and there are not really any more viable ways to market the drink or flavor, thus the early release of the product on shelves and into cups makes perfect marketing sense. Eggnog will need to rely on the strength of its history and the loyalty of its customers to their traditions in order to stay relevant. Relying on the ebb and flow of consumers is always a scary thought for business owners. Of course this season there seems to be little need to worry. Notwithstanding the recent headlines and perhaps a holiday line of edible “weednog” items (yes it is actually a thing… it seems that nothing is sacred anymore) coming to Seattle, Colorado and D.C., this season the eggnog tradition appears to be safe.
By Heather Everett (Pomper)