It seems that eggnog is raising an unusual storm this holiday season. Ms. Heidi Harley’s HeiDeas blog has announced that she has “antedated” the earliest OED citation for the use of the term by more than 50 years:
“The OED's oldest quote for eggnog is from 1825…”
She has found her citation in “a 'pastoral' poem written around 1774 by 18th-century clergyman and philologist Jonathan Boucher”. Congratulations are in order!
I have long assumed that the “nog” part of eggnog assures it a date prior to the celebration of Christ-Mass in the British Isles, but, of course, that need not be so. Only the nog of eggnog need be of such antiquity and the two “nogs” may not even be the same.
Well, all of this interested me enough to go looking for what I might find on the subject. It was a fascinating journey through my library and Google Books (part of all of our libraries) and I will go on at greater length when time will permit. Most immediately to the point, however, is the following quote from the Acts Passed by the General Assembly of Georgia – 1735:
... skimmed, chocolate or flavored milk or drink, buttermilk, fluid cream, ice cream, ice milk, egg nog or other dessert, ice cream or ice milk mixes. ...
Unfortunately, Google Books only quotes this as a "snippet" and one must go to a copy of the original volume in order to read the citation in context. They have not scanned the entire book into the database. Why, it is impossible to tell. Certainly not because of copyright restrictions.
Here, then, is the full Google Books listing:
Acts Passed by the General Assembly of Georgia - Page 262The snippet is actually shown but consists only of a fraction of an inch of a page.
by Georgia - Session laws - 1735
... skimmed, chocolate or flavored milk or drink, buttermilk, fluid cream, ice cream, ice milk, egg nog or other dessert, ice cream or ice milk mixes. ...Snippet view - About this book - Add to my library - More editions