Long before Eggnog was just a boxy carton at the supermarket, one that turned up in the dairy case around Thanksgiving, people cared enough about the drink that they were willing to riot over it. And not just anybody, but the disciplined cadets of West Point.
It was Christmas Eve, 1826, and at the U.S. Military Academy it was anything but a silent night. Scores of cadets were in open, mutinous defiance of an order, of all things, that their holiday beverage be alcohol-free. The cadets nearly pulled the place down, and all because the officers denied them a proper drink of Christmas Eggnog.
The superintendent of the academy was a humorless martinet named Sylvanus Thayer. Tired of his charges flouting the rules against ardent spirits, Thayer had revoked the privilege that had allowed for cadets to indulge in a celebratory tot on Christmas Eve and George Washington’s birthday.