The holidays are fast approaching, along with the colder weather. People are looking for a nice delicious drink to sit down and relax with. However, there are two age old drinks that both have wonderful benefits and rich histories behind them.
Hot chocolate, which dates back to Mesoamerica, is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, as “hot milk that is chocolate-flavored.” Eggnog, which is thought to be from the 17th century, is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, as “a drink made of eggs beaten with sugar, milk or cream.”
The history of hot chocolate actually precedes that of the chocolate bar that many people know and love.
According to albanykid.com, “The first to harvest the trees were the Olmecs, most likely the oldest civilization in both American continents, way back over 3,000 years ago. Not only was cacao valued as a drink, but the beans were often used as a form of currency.”
Originally, hot chocolate was a bitter tasting drink that was thought to bring power to that of Mayan warriors. It was not until Cortez defeated the warriors of Montezuma II and the Aztec Empire that the drink became a sweeter recipe; the warriors brought him whipped hot chocolate but Cortez could barely drink it.
Thus, when Cortez brought it back to Spain, he explained that it must be powerful because the warriors had drunk 50 cups of it every day. The king of Spain, Charles I, suggested adding sugar to the drink. Thus, it evolved into the sweeter version that has been Americanized today.
Hot chocolate, which is made from the cacao plant, has many health benefits. In fact, hot chocolate is known for having twice as strong of antioxidants as red wine. It’s also known to have flavonoids that help your body process nitric oxide which in turn can lower your blood pressure and improve heart health.
Eggnog also has an interesting background as well as some potential health benefits. Eggnog is technically a stirred custard of milk and eggs; it’s almost identical to ice cream except the alcohol that’s used to make it doesn’t allow it to freeze like ice cream does.
According to mentalfloss.com, “Most culinary anthropologists believe modern eggnog descended from a thick, boozy, late-medieval concoction called posset that was composed of hot milk and hooch enhanced with whatever spice the lord of the castle had on hand.”
The name eggnog dates back to the term “nog” which refers to a style of strong beer brewed in East Anglia, which the term “noggin” refers to small cup or mug that could be used for imbibing nog.
Since eggnog is comprised of mostly milk, it contains the health benefits that milk has, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin B, while eggs are a great source of protein. However, when compared to hot chocolate which also contains milk, hot chocolate has these as well as the benefits from the cacao plant.
Overall, both of these holiday beverages are a treat to sip on while a fire is blazing, but personally I feel that the rich history of the transition and development of hot chocolate, as well as it’s many benefits, outweigh that of eggnog, if only by a taste.