Nog-nog-noggin' on Heaven's Door
Egg nog can be truly divine. It can also be vile. Here are the best and worst of the brands sold near you.
 
BY MATT DOBKIN
 
 

Even hardcore egg nog enthusiasts will admit that too much of a good thing is, well, a nauseating thing. So heed our warning and don't sample eight different nogs all in one day. That said, it's holiday time, and we'd argue that there's no more festive egg-based beverage out there to celebrate with. If you don't feel like making your own, here are our picks of the best and worst store-bought nog. Note: All egg nogs listed below improve when spiked.

Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being egg nog bliss.

 

BRAND 

SOLD AT THE LOWDOWN RATING
Chipwich Most supermarkets Their ice cream sandwiches may seem like an '80s relic, but Chipwich's seasonal nog is superb: like French vanilla ice cream in a cup. Just the right thickness, with flecks of nutmeg. Very sweet, but not artificial-tasting. 9
Ronnybrook Farms Jefferson Market, Balducci's, Whole Foods, many supermarkets The hands-down champ: extremely thick and frothy, just-right off-white coloration, flavor that's sweet but not too. All-natural, and it indeed tastes absolutely farm fresh. Only available for two months of the year, but sold everywhere during that period. More expensive than the other brands ($7.99 at Balducci's!), but worth it. 10
Derle Farms Jefferson Market The carton has an appealing late-'70s retro font, but that's sadly where this brand's charms end. Overly syrupy, artificial -- scarcely tastes like egg nog at all, more like super-sweetened milk. Smells like plastic. 1
Axelrod Many supermarkets There are thicker brands out there, but for the most part Axelrod gets the consistency right. Somewhat milky, extremely sweet, with caramel and butterscotch accents. Like drinking liquid candy -- but tasty nonetheless. 7
Borden Key Food and other supermarkets Comes in an attractive, old-school can that gives the impression that what's inside is the real deal. The product itself is not so impressive: runny, eggy, no froth to speak of. Has a rice-pudding flavor. Package boasts recipes for egg nog pound cake and French toast, and the light consistency seems like it would indeed work better in a recipe than drunk straight. 5
Organic Valley Whole Foods Perhaps because it's organic, this nog tasted the least artificial of the brands sampled. Less sweet, quite thick, redolent of nutmeg. But the flavor is lackluster. Perhaps it'd taste better with some of the hormones, antibiotics and pesticides it so proudly eschews... 5
Horizon Low-Fat Organic Whole Foods Another all-natural brand, but unlike Organic Valley, Horizon tastes utterly synthetic. An alarming yellow color, it's like liquid custard, or vanilla pudding before it's set. Tart on the tongue and smells somewhat like paint. Better with the fat? 2
Parmalat Farmland Dairies Garden of Eden, many supermarkets Farmland Dairies doesn't do anything fancy with their nog, and that's a good thing. Not overly sweet, palpably nutmeg-y. Good, familiar aroma -- what egg nog ought to smell like. Tastes as if it might already be faintly spiked (though it isn't). A reliable brand, though lacking any remarkable characteristic to knock it out of the ballpark. 7
             


   
Published in December 2002.