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In Dining Commentary

We preferred Organic Valley's egg nog to Sassy Cow's. Which is your favorite?

Take the Milwaukee challenge: Organic Valley vs. Sassy Cow egg nogs


Love it or hate it, egg nog is a part of the holiday season. Mixed with booze or straight up -- or made into pancakes, we hear -- it's an awesome seasonal treat for some and a disgusting idea altogether for others.

We decided that in the spirit of the season, we'd taste two Wisconsin-made egg nogs and pick our favorite.

We got a quart of organic egg nog from LaFarge-based Organic Valley at Whole Foods for $3.39. Upon further investigation of Organic Valley's plant codes, though, we learned that the egg is actually nogged at Wayne Dairy Products in Richmond, Ind.

Next we got another quart from Columbus' Sassy Cow Creamery from Beans and Barley for $3. This nog is actually produced in Wisconsin, too, at the Baerwolf Family Farm right there in Columbus.

In the end, more of us preferred the Organic Valley version, by a 5-2 margin. Read on to see which OnMilwaukee.com staffers preferred each.

Tim Cuprisin
Media columnist
Pick: Organic Valley

I like a sip of the old nog around this time of the year, but not much more than that -- unless a cardiologist is standing by.

This year, I took maybe a half-dozen sips to sample the two and what I found surprised me. I started off immediately liking the thick, rich Sassy Cow. It had the deep yellow, yolky color I expected. By comparison, Organic Valley seemed bland.

But alternating sips produced a Christmas miracle. The Organic Valley (that name doesn't help) started growing on me. It was subtler, but more drinkable. By the end, Sassy Cow seemed pushy (and at least part of the color comes from annatto, as Bobby Tanzilo notes). It was too thick, too rich, too noggy.

Give me a glass of Organic Valley. A small glass. Maybe a shot glass. Next year around this time.

Renee Lorenz
Reporter
Pick: Organic Valley

I've never really been a big fan of egg nog. I don't hate it, but I do just fine with hot cocoa and cider if I'm yearning for a holiday go-to drink. Besides, there's something about the word "nog" that just doesn't sit well with me.

I tasted both samples with no real expectations, and I'm happy to report they're both quite drinkable. The Sassy Cow egg nog was decent, but its overpowering flavor almost had me questioning whether it already had booze in it.

I spent more time than I'd like to admit trying to place the flavor (which, I've decided, is uncannily like Dubble Bubble bubble gum). It's strong, but it's not bad, and it has definite potential as a whiskey mixer.

As a non-nog connoisseur, I preferred the Organic Valley version. I liked that it looked and tasted more like a melted gingerbread-flavored ice cream drink than an egg nog. Purists might not go for it for this reason, but if you're just venturing into the land of nog for novelty's sake, Organic Valley is a better option.

Bob Purvis
Staff Writer
Pick: Sassy Cow

I used to pound egg nog by the quart each Christmas as a kid, which may be why I was the only wise man in the third grade holiday pageant in need of a bra.
It's been a few years since I've knocked back that thick dairy death serum, so I was bringing a fresh and eager palate to the tasting.

I think the Sassy Cow egg nog was clearly superior. It was heavy on the nutmeg and really dense which are the two qualities that differentiate egg nog from milk in my opinion. The Organic Valley was a little less syrupy and much more subtly spiced, so for people who don't have a history of drinking the stuff out of a beer bong, that may be the way to go.

Molly Snyder
Associate Editor
Pick: Organic Valley

Because it reminds me of mucus, egg nog is not a drink I go for -- unless it has a fair share of booze in it. But even then, the beverage's color and thickness usually make me generate a throaty, cat-with-a-hairball noise. That said, I was not a fan of Sassy Cow's classic nog, even though it comes in a cute container. (It's like the plastic gallon-of-milk container only smaller.)

I found the Organic Valley nog way less offensive. In fact, I tagged it the "Egg Nog Haters' Egg Nog." This brand is more drinkable, in my opinion, because it's lighter. It's much lighter in color -- it's almost white so the nutmeg flecks are more visible which adds to the overall pleasing appearance -- and it's lighter in texture. The latter lightness is key for me. This nog is more milky and less eggy, which allows it to slide down ye olde hatch with ease.

I probably wouldn't run out and buy the Organic Valley nog -- even though I am a devoted consumer of their other dairy products -- but if I were hosting a holiday party and wanted to provide a festive libation for others, I would definitely pick this nog over other brands.

Bobby Tanzilo
Managing Editor
Pick: Organic Valley

Unlike some of the others taking part in this challenge, I love egg nog and I love that it's a really seasonal culinary delight in a country where seasonality is in large part erased from our tables. It's a once-a-year treat and that means it really represents the holiday season for me.

The Organic Valley egg nog is nutmeg-y, but milky white in color and in taste, with just a hint of the "eggness" that defines egg nog. On the other hand, the Sassy Cow, in a cute miniature "gallon" jug, is deep yellow, thicker and super-eggish.

But while on first sip, I like the flavor of Sassy Cow better, it's so strongly flavored that I head to the ingredient list and I see that it's made from "egg nog mix" that includes annatto, which is a coloring that suggests the yellow color isn't really from the eggs.

That leads me to look more closely at the Organic Valley and though the flavor is more subtle and the color less noggy, I realize I just might like the subtle approach better when drinking straight, and Sassy Cow's high-octane taste when using the nog as a mixer with coffee or booze.

Andy Tarnoff
Publisher
Pick: Organic Valley

I love egg nog. I could drink it all year long, though if I did, I probably wouldn't live long enough to see another holiday season. I liked both of these nogs, but I found the Sassy Cow to be a bit too sweet for my liking. Thick and butterscotchy, it really put the egg back in egg nog.

The Organic Valley was runnier, milkier and creamier, and though I found the aftertaste to be just a little unpleasant, I thought it tasted more like egg nog should.

You can't go wrong with either of these nogs. But for my money, the Organic Valley tasted more natural and was a bit more drinkable.

Andrew Wagner
Senior Staff Writer
Pick: Sassy Cow

Count me firmly in the "hate it" category when it comes to egg nog. Never liked it, often told I should try it and when I do, my opinion doesn't change. In the interest of fair journalism, however, I pinched my nose and gulped down the two options.

Organic Valley was my first sample and I could immediately taste the nutmeg. That was enough for me. The Sassy Cow, at first, seemed mildly pleasant -- almost like a milkshake -- but quickly, the all-too-familiar aftertaste crept in and I was done.

No offense to either producer, but neither offering overwhelmed me and I stand firm in my position. However, if I were purchasing egg nog to serve party guests, I'd go with Columbus-based Sassy Cow.

Talkbacks

hardgeminiguy | Dec. 21, 2010 at 1:09 p.m. (report)

i very much enjoy egg nog. i start buying several bottles at a time the first it appars each season--before thanksgiving. drink at least 2 glasses a day. wish it was sold all year. now, after news years, i must wait untill easter to buy more. a GREAT christmas tradition! YUMMY EGG NOG!

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LouManske | Dec. 21, 2010 at 10:42 a.m. (report)

Have these opinions been confirmed or are they only rumors?

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Gomez | Dec. 21, 2010 at 9:20 a.m. (report)

I like to pour eggnog on my lover and drink it off in nutmeg shower, thank you.

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