Eggnog or egg not?

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Our pilgrimage to the dairy for some milky Christmas cheer aisle could present a puzzling choice this year: Eggnog or ‘Holiday Nog.’

They’re strikingly similar. Both are bottled in half-gallon jugs; both are off-white with dark speckles; and they both taste like eggnog. They could be identical twins. But they’re not.

So, what’s the difference? Eggs. Despite its similarity to eggnog, Holiday Nog has virtually no egg in it. In fact, eggs are dead last on the list of ingredients.

Sunshine State Dairy Farms, located in Plant City, bottles Holiday Nog under the Gustafson Dairy Farms label. Sunshine State’s Linda Hawkinson told us the dairy created an eggnog alternative when the price of eggs shot up earlier this year due to the Avian Flu. She said her goal was to offer consumers an affordable alternative.

Hawkinson said the Holiday Nog recipe includes ‘just a touch’ of egg, but is essentially egg free.

Gustafson delivered on a less expensive substitute. The half-gallon jug of Borden eggnog we bought cost $5.87; the half-gallon jug of Gustafson Holiday Nog cost just $2.99.

The color and container are so convincing that we spotted Holiday Nog mislabeled as eggnog at a local Aldi. (The shelf tag should be corrected.)

Even with a hint of egg, Hawkinson said the jug doesn't contain enough egg to meet federal standards of identity that are required for a beverage to earn an eggnog label.

Thus, its name is Holiday Nog.

We conducted an unscientific taste test in the FOX 13 newsroom. The majority of my colleagues blindly preferred the flavor and texture of genuine eggnog. However, the vote was very close: 57 percent eggnog; 43 percent preferred egg-free Holiday Nog.

Hawkinson said she was pleased that consumers (like me) were pleased with the alternative’s flavor and affordable price.

On a health note, the absence of eggs helps reduce the cholesterol count. Holiday Nog contains one third of the cholesterol traditional eggnog, according to the label.