Millennials are, according to Business Insider earlier this month, “Killing Chains Like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee’s.” This isn’t the first thing that we’ve killed and/or destroyed by stubbornly refusing to spend money on it. Last year millennials got accused of wiping out everything from mass-market beers like Budweiser and Coors to the diamond industry to bar soap.
And, on behalf of all millennials, I can only say: You’re welcome.
Because these institutions we’re obliterating are awful.
Applebee’s is not a richly beloved neighborhood joint. It is a chain restaurant that serves 990-calorie fried cheeseburger egg rolls. If we are not flocking to it, it’s probably because as Forbes notes, “Healthy food makes millennials happy. They push to eat healthier, more eco-friendly foods.”
Meanwhile, it’s become a cliché for baby boomers to malign millennials for consuming too much avocado toast. Which means . . . baby boomers are mad because we’re enthusiastically eating fresh vegetables on whole grain breads? That’s what you spent the first 12 years of our lives trying to convince us to eat.
But OK. People have the right to enjoy whatever foods and drinks they like! And if you like washing down those cheeseburger egg rolls with a few Budweisers, go for it. Go for it, even if Budweiser tastes like a seltzer someone peed in.
We’re probably just going to have a coffee, anyway. Millennials are drinking less alcohol than any previous young generation, according to the ongoing Monitoring the Future report, but we’re driving the consumption of coffee to historic highs because “soda is unhealthy, and coffee offers the same jolt without the socially unacceptable soda addiction,” The Washington Post writes.
And sometimes the barista even makes a cute little drawing of a cat in the latte foam! It’s the perfect Instagram shot. Instagramming beers and chain-restaurant egg rolls, meanwhile, reads as a plaintive cry for help.
Millennials also aren’t buying diamonds. According to a report by De Beers, the share of American 15- to 34-year-olds in the top four diamond markets has dropped from 32 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2015. And while there are many demographic reasons for the diamond market slowing (young people are making less and marrying later, if they’re marrying at all), is it really such a bad thing if we’re buying fewer sparklers?
I like diamond engagement rings, because I’m attracted to (some) traditional values and shiny objects. But I can’t fault any man for not wanting to spend a three-month paycheck on a tiny chip of rock. Instead of contributing to an industry rife with human-rights abuses, a couple might find a sentimental piece of jewelry that’s special to them and much less expensive. Millennials can spend the leftover money on something else to give them more pleasure. Maybe it’s a trip. Maybe it’s a coffee machine. Maybe it’s a lifetime supply of avocado toast.
It sure won’t be bar soap, though.
And that’s fine. Nobody ever liked bar soap. It was so slippery that sometimes it literally came on a rope. So, of course millennials are gravitating towards using liquid counterparts, as consumer research firm Mintel found. Some young people fear germs spreading more easily from bar soap, but I don’t think this trend is mainly down to health. We prefer lathering up with liquid because it doesn’t get weird and soggy and slip out of your hands constantly. Also, it’s fun to read the rambling Dr. Bronner’s label in the shower.
These old businesses aren’t struggling because millennials set out to “kill them.” We didn’t, any more than prior generations set out to kill aspic and the phonograph. Newer generations just found alternatives that were better. And, in the case of aspic and bar soap, less obviously gross.
I feel like it was a prior generation that suggested people start swimming or they’ll sink like a stone. Maybe restaurants like Applebee’s should take that advice and start serving elevated toast and poke bowls instead of complaining about those dang kids who don’t want their enchiladas loaded with beef. Trust me, the first food chain that invests in a latte artist who can carve our own faces into coffee foam is going to make a fortune.
You may hate all the trends we love, and that’s a shame, but just give it time. So will our kids.
This article was published on NYPost.com