The nog is back

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.

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About Dennis Myers 1397 Articles
Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely Nevada, a children’s history textbook, and a contributor to the books The Mythical West and Covering the Courts in Nevada. In September, 2020, he was inducted into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame.