Posset-ively Eggnog Is Ice Cream

Like it or not, Eggnog is a holiday mainstay. Who knew what humble beginnings this treat had. Let’s go to the wayback machine, Sherman!

Back in Ye Olden Days

“Mum, I’m going to throw the stale bread out and give it to the pigs.”

“Hold yer breeches, boy! That be our breakfast.”

Perhaps that isn’t a real conversation, but let’s take a moment to consider the real prevention of food waste going on. Posset had its beginnings as a filling meal made of warm milk and bread. The poor couldn’t afford to let anything go to waste so they used stale bread as a thickener for this simple meal.

Jimmy Buffett sang about “Warm beer and bread they say could raise the dead…” While it might not raise the dead, the more your means improved, the more your posset did. Leftover beer and ale would also be added to the mix. The wealthy eventually exchanged cream for milk and eggs for bread, and added spices.

Hold It!


In case you missed it, that’s where we made the jump from posset to eggnog. Now there are several theories about how eggnog got its name from a cup or alcoholic beverages and others. What’s interesting to me is what happened when it jumped the ocean to the American colonies.

While poor, the colonists had plenty of chickens and cows to make the “good” eggnog. They had little access to wine or sherry to add to it, but they could get plenty of rum.

What about the ice cream?

Right, the ice cream. Milk and eggs and sugar make ice cream. Milk and eggs and sugar make eggnog. For those of us that don’t actually think about cooking, much less make anything more complicated than frozen pizza, that is mind blowing when explained as such.

Presidential Eggnog

President George Washington

President George I-cannot-tell-a-lie-and-I-also-like-to-drink Washington himself was a huge fan of eggnog. He, as most did, made large batches of it. His was famous for being one that only the toughest could drink.

Want to make George’s ‘nog for your own festivities? His recipe is still around. Most agree that he meant for a dozen eggs and the milk was whole to be sure.


One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, 1/2 pint rye whiskey, 1/2 pint Jamaica rum, 1/4 pint sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.

Taste frequently? Enjoy it, but as George told a friend,

“An aching head and trembling limbs which are the inevitable effects of drinking, disincline the hands from work; hence begins sloth and that listlessness which ends in idleness.”



My friend Sadie at Dairy Good Life, who I met at a dairy farmers convention, has organized a #DairyChristmas recipe day. A whole mess of dairy farmer bloggers are sharing dairy inspired holiday recipes and farm traditions. I’ve supplied your drink and hopefully some fun conversation with mine now check out some of these recipes to treat guests at your holiday festivities!

George Washington Photo credit: Gilbert Stuart [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Eggnog Photo Credit: By Dinner Series [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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