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Eggo’s ‘Brunch in a Jar’ is just the latest disastrous boozy mash

Jun 28, 2023

In “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the mad genius candy-maker Willy Wonka’s confections memorably include a “three-course dinner” chewing gum. The treat delivers to its chewers a succession of flavors that span an entire meal, starting with tomato soup, then moving on to roast beef and baked potatoes, and finally a blueberry pie and ice cream dessert — though Wonka boasted that it could taste like any other menu one might choose.

I thought of this fictional creation when I first encountered waffle-maker Eggo’s new “Brunch in a Jar” drink, a boozy concoction whose Wonka-esque creators designed to impart all the tastes you might find on a combination platter at your local diner — “toasted Eggo waffles, sweet maple syrup and rich butter, with a hint of smoky bacon,” per the promotional materials — in a single glass. The drink is the product of a collaboration with Tennessee-based Sugarlands Distilling, whose rum-infused Appalachian Sippin’ Cream forms the base of the Eggo drink.

While struggling to process this novel substance, I was appalled and curious in equal measure. Was this some kind of bizarre meal-replacement product, with the added bonus of a buzz (thanks to the 20 percent ABV)? No. Apparently it’s meant to be consumed alongside … real Eggo waffles in their solid form. And what in the name of Saint Dolly Parton is “sippin’ cream”? A visit to the company’s website reveals that it’s a rich beverage infused with dessert flavors including banana pudding and dark chocolate and coffee. These were not particularly reassuring answers.

Even more baffling was the marketing of the Eggo-inspired drink to parents who can’t actually go out for brunch. “Mom and dad, this one is made specially for you,” the news release promises. “Between the juggle of constantly changing schedules, household errands, family outings or busy workdays, it can often feel impossible for parents to find moments they can savor for themselves,” Joe Beauprez, Kellogg’s senior director of marketing for frozen foods, said in the release. “Eggo Brunch in a Jar makes it easy for parents to kick back when they’re not caring for their little ones.”

I pictured a couple desperately passing each other a jar of waffle-flavored booze in the moments before the kids arrive home from soccer practice, swigging from it as their eyes warily scan the driveway.

Despite having no children to hide my own drinking from, I decided to give the concoction a try. (Okay, this wasn’t entirely my choice. My editors’ insistence might have played a small role in the matter.) I suspected it would be quite sweet, so I knew the keys to making it palatable would be making sure it was very cold — and keeping the serving size down. I scanned the recipes suggested on the website, most of which only added more sugar to the mix. One, dubbed “Morning Chaos,” which calls for the Eggo liquor to be mixed with rum, spiced chai syrup, pineapple juice and blood-orange juice, seemed particularly off-putting. I settled on the “L’Eggo With Eggo,” which adds less than an ounce to cold brew coffee and calls for a topping made with equal parts whipping cream and more of the Eggo booze.

Tried on its own, served over ice, the liquor was even more of a quandary than I initially suspected. How, I wondered, could something simultaneously be acridly bitter and tooth-achingly sweet? I detected all of the promised food groups: faux buttery notes with a bit of smoke (the bacon, I suspected) and a kind of toasted-bread-like quality, all punched in the gut by an overwhelming dose of sharp imitation maple, as if Mrs. Butterworth was getting the better of everyone in a barroom brawl. The texture was viscous and mouth-coating, and I couldn’t imagine anyone drinking more than a sip they’d come to regret.

In the cocktail — an espresso-martini-like mixture — it was more bearable, but only because it had been mercifully diluted by more than 4 to 1.

The urge among food companies to booze-ify their offerings is apparently strong, no matter how improbable the resulting product. (See Arby’s french-fry-flavored vodka, Oreo Thins wine, Hellmann’s “mayo-nog” and the Velveeta martini.) And mash-ups — often done merely for the novelty factor — are an epidemic sweeping the culinary landscape. Kraft Mac & Cheese ice cream? French’s mustard-flavored Skittles? Twinkies cereal? Those are all real things, not the phantasms of a junk-food-loving fourth-grader’s fever dreams.

The longer I contemplated the Eggo booze, the more annoyed I felt. I was irritated by the vague hillbilly cosplay of the container, a jar meant to conjure up moonshine, and the folksy droppin’ of the letter “g,” like it’s some fancy affectation of the elite. I was vexed by the marketers so eager to play Mad Libs with their products, inserting them into contexts no one asked for.

When it comes to my brunch libations, please, Eggo, just l’eggo.