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Here's help for the most important decision you'll make this holiday season.

As the holiday season kicks into high gear, there is one decision we'll make that stands above all others.

It's a decision that has the potential to make or break a holiday gathering and mark a host/hostess as an uncultured philistine or a person of envy-inducing refinement.

What brand of eggnog should I serve?

You know how the U.S. Constitution states that all men are created equal?

Maybe so, but all eggnog isn't.

As an uncultured hayseed from Rockingham, I grew up viewing eggnog - pronounced eggnawg when it's really good - a lot like pizza and beer: even when it's bad, it's not bad.

As one gets older and your palate becomes more discriminating, though, you're forced to conclude that some eggnog is just not good, that it is - in fact - bad.

Last year, we at The Saunders Report thought we'd never again have to face the dilemma of which eggnog to serve: Rite Aid drugstores stocked a brand that was sweet to a catatonia-inducing level, and thick. When I served some to a pal, he scrunched up his face and said "It's like drinking cake batter."

I said "I know. Ain't it delicious?"

It was with hearts aflutter that we looked forward to this holiday season, when we'd go to Rite Aids all over the Triangle and clean out their shelves again.

Alas, poor Uric, all of the Rite Aids in the area have gone out of business and I don't even remember the brand name of that sweet, gooey nectar.

The staff at The Saunders Report, in its unceasing desire to serve the public good, was commissioned to taste every brand of eggnog it could get its lips on in order to find a suitable replacement nog.

Talk about sensory overload. There is an overwhelming array of the stuff, even - EGADS! - non- dairy eggnog made of soy.

Oy. The less said about that, the better. We also fled any eggnog with the words "low-fat" or "light." Consumer Reports magazine reported that Americans purchased 60 million quarts of eggnog last year, and a large percentage of that was bought by us - and not one of them was low-fat or light.

Here, then, is part one of our hunt for the best eggnog.

You know how they say you can't judge a book by its cover?

Neither can you judge a good eggnog by its carton. Our first purchase was called Southern Comfort, and it was first because it came in the prettiest, eye-catchingest carton.

It was - to put it kindly - mediocre and not worth the carbs and calories. That's another thing you have to take into account when buying eggnog: you're going to hate yourself after consuming a week's worth of carbs and calories in two - okay, four - glasses of the stuff, so if you're going to drink yourself into a carb coma, make sure you enjoy it.

The next purchase was of Califia Almond Milk eggnog. No, Califia Almond Milk NOG. Egg was nowhere in the name and in little tiny letters was the dreaded phrase "dairy free."

That should have been a warning to put down the bottle and walk away, but nooooooo.

We purchased it, brought it back to the office, and took turns sipping and grimacing. The texture was thin - a no-no for nog - and the taste called to mind ice milk, ice cream's less popular cousin, that has been left out of the freezer too long.

Borden's eggnog was our next stop. We felt comfortable picking it because it comes in a can and has been around since our childhood.

After sipping it, the only reason - as far as we can tell - that this stuff has been around since our childhood is because it comes in a can. It called to mind, more than anything, skim milk into which someone had stirred some nutmeg.

After the Rite Aid eggnawg of last year, we fear we've been ruined for all others. But after testing several name-brand, expensive eggnogs, our choice for the best-tasting eggnog may be disappointing to nog snobs who think you have to spend a lot to get the best: the one that combined the best flavor and texture - that tasted most like Christmas - was the Harris Teeter store brand.

Before you imbibe, here is a link to a Consumer Reports article about safe consumption of eggnog:




Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  


Want more? Get your own copy of one of Barry's published books featuring reader favorites (and not so favorites) from his years writing columns for The News & Observer. Titled "Do Unto Others...And then Run" and "...And The Horse You Rode In On Saunders!", they're full of guaranteed entertainment. 


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