The nog is back

Sam Francovich

Photo By Dennis Myers

Each winter for more than a century a locally formulated egg nog has appeared in this area, made by the Francovich family to be given away to friends and, lately, to be sold in local stores. It originated in the Wine House, which was opened in 1874 by Eli Francovich, eventually occupying 16-18 Commercial Row, then Reno’s main street. Sam Francovich speaks for the family on the nog issue.

How long has Francovich Egg Nog been around?

Our family’s been doing it for over a hundred years personally, but we’ve been doing it commercially now for about 10 years.

Before that?

It wasn’t marketed. It was basically given away for free. Our family used to own the Wine House downtown, which was one of the original bars and restaurants and casinos in Nevada. … And this was something that my family would make and give to the patrons at night during the holiday season.

I would think it’s something of a challenge to market a product that only appears intermittently.

It is very difficult, and it’s difficult on several levels. It’s difficult from the store level, difficult from the family level. You know, we don’t think about it year in and year out, so when the season hits, we’re worried about making it and we’re least concerned about marketing. And that’s probably what we should be a little bit more concerned about.

How is it different from any other nog?

One, this is fresh egg nog. This is fresh whole milk egg nog. There’s no preservatives, there’s no additives, there’s no thickener, there’s no color [added]. I mean, the difference between Francovich Egg Nog and, say, Land o’ Lakes Egg Nog is night and day. Theirs is yellow and thick and ours is light and frothy and—you know, no additives. And that’s really what it boils down to. Their egg nog is just like ours, but they add a bunch of stuff to make it more—I really have no idea why they add to it.

I notice it’s packaged in a bottle. It used to be packaged differently, was it not?

Oh, no, it’s always been in bottles.

Don’t I remember getting it in a carton?

Model Dairy has now started to market [Francovich Egg Nog] as a non-alcoholic egg nog. Ours has alcohol in it. Ours has bourbon and rum in it. But the lack of additives has really drawn a good following, so now Model Dairy is marketing our egg nog in the cartons.

This is still a family business.

Yes … totally 100 percent family owned.

Is the nog sold outside the Truckee Meadows?

It is. We’re in Costco in Northern California. And we’re in all the stores in Northern Nevada.

What’s the sales figure?

I think this year we’re very close to 30,000 bottles, which is quite a jump from what we did last year—almost double what we did last year.

Who all knows the recipe?

Family members. Pretty much family members.

And Model Dairy, minus the booze.

And Model Dairy has our proprietary recipe, and they bottle it in quarts, non-alcoholic.