Hot chocolate is Americans' favorite holiday beverage

Linley SandersData Journalist
December 22, 2022, 9:19 PM GMT+0

Many different beverages have their day during the colder months — some warm, some spiced, some boozy — but a new YouGov poll of holiday drinks shows that hot chocolate is Americans' favorite for the holidays.

YouGov formed a list of holiday beverages to ask Americans about by analyzing the results of an open-ended question on an earlier poll that asked people to share their favorite holiday drinks. We narrowed the list of drinks mentioned to 19, then asked people to share their opinion of each one. For drinks with alcohol, we only polled Americans who are 21 and older.

There are a few ways to measure the United States' favorite holiday drink —and by all of them, hot chocolate dominates all other contenders. If you care which beverage is the most loved around the holidays, then hot cocoa wins, with 55% of percent of people saying that they love it. If you rank drinks by the sum of the shares of Americans who love or like each one around the holidays, then hot cocoa wins again, with 90%. It is followed by tea (78%), apple cider (67%), and eggnog (55%).

Even a third ranking method — based on Americans' choice of their favorite holiday beverage from among ones they love or like — lands hot chocolate another rich victory: 28% call it their favorite around the holidays. Eggnog, at 12%, is a distant runner-up, followed by wine (9%) and tea (9%).

While hot chocolate has been well-established as the United States' holiday drink of choice, the champ really is a collection of a few different drinks, depending on how it's prepared. One major factor separating different mugs of hot cocoa is the liquid. Some people's perfect cup is filled with chocolate that has been added to warm milk; others prefer a base of water. The majority of Americans who like hot cocoa (60%) prefer a milk base, while only 12% opt for a water base. One-quarter are equally fond of both options.

Once the chocolate and liquid have mixed, there's the question of whether or not to have marshmallows on top. Two in five hot chocolate enthusiasts prefer marshmallows in their drink (42%), while 24% would rather have hot cocoa without them. About three in 10 like both options equally.

Among people who like hot chocolate and prefer marshmallows, mini marshmallows (71%) are preferred by many more than would choose one big marshmallow (5%). About one-quarter are happy with any size of marshmallow in their hot chocolate.

— Carl Bialik contributed to this article

See the toplines and crosstabs from this YouGov poll conducted on December 12 - 16, 2022 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens.

Methodology: This poll was conducted on December 12 - 16, 2022, among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.

Image: Adobe Stock (Artem Shadrin)