Food Trends

From Mayo To Nightlife: Everything Millennials Were Accused Of Killing In 2018

When you type the word "millennials" followed by the letter "k" into the Google search bar, you're immediately given over a dozen auto-populated inquiries about all the things people who were born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s have supposedly killed. Input "millennials k" into the search engine, and you'll learn that the generation is responsible for the deaths of everything from sex, napkins, and diamonds to Hooters, marriage, and divorce.

Given that Google is prompted to suggest all the ridiculous items and concepts we 20- and 30-somethings have murdered before recommending the searcher read up on how millennials keep libraries, unions, and handwriting alive, it's clear people are more drawn in by what millennials are disrupting than by what we're helping to maintain. When it comes to our generation, "kill" is a much grabbier "K" verb than "keep alive." This trend is especially true when it comes to food.


We've long endured headlines, studies, and think pieces pointing out what food items or dining habits our generation is destroying, but this year, it feels like the list of things we inadvertently put the kibosh on grew exponentially. Read on for a look at 2018's top contenders for culinary extinction.

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illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

A June 2018 study from the market research firm Mintel revealed that 28% of people aged 24 to 31, aka "young millennials," prefer drinking at home. Because of this, many have jumped to the incorrect conclusion that the group's "laziness" is causing the death of bars, clubs, pubs, discotheques, and the general concept of leaving the house at night. However, the study found that the reason young millennials preferred drinking at home was not laziness, but a desire to be in a relaxed environment, save money, and control their alcohol intake. Additionally, Mintel reported that more than half of American consumers of all age groups prefer drinking at home.

Even if it were true that millennials are the only ones who like imbibing in the comfort of their own homes, this wouldn't necessarily be the end of bars. According to Mintel, alcohol sales in bars is on the rise. It reached an estimated $108 billion in 2017.
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illustrated by Mary Galloway.

In August, Business Insider published a piece entitled, "Millennials Are Creating A Mounting Crisis For Some Of The Most Iconic Beer Brands In America," and to this headline, we say, "Business Insider, you drama queen." In the article, BI cites Nielsen data that showed "beer penetration fell one percentage point in the US market from 2016 to 2017." We may not be numbers experts, but 1% hardly feels like it qualifies as a "crisis."

The piece also states that "millennials seem to be especially uninterested in big beer brands like Bud Light, Budweiser, and Miller Light," which seems to point to the obvious fact that millennials have by now, for the most part, graduated college and exited the phase of life when cheap light beer is chugged by the dozen through beer bong tubes, so perhaps we should be let off the hook for this one. Shouldn't Gen Z pick up where we left off and be the ones held responsible for making sure big beer stays afloat so we can grow up and fully throw ourselves into the gose trend?
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illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.

Of all the things millennials have been blamed for wiping out, this one hurts the most — for this writer, anyway. In an August Philadelphia Magazine story, a writer named Sandy Hingston described in over 2,000 words how millennials are causing mayonnaise to go extinct. Included in her diatribe were these sentences, which even in 2018, are contenders for most offensive sentiments published all year: "My son Jake, who's 25, eats mayo. He's a practical young man who works in computers and adores macaroni salad. He’s a good son. I also have a daughter. She was a women's and gender studies major in college. Naturally, she loathes mayonnaise. And she's not alone."

Despite Hingston's apparent assertion that the rise of feminism among millennial women correlates with the rise of anti-mayo attitudes, according to Statistica, 273.51 million Americans used mayonnaise or mayonnaise-type salad dressing in 2018 and that figure is projected to increase to 276.65 million in 2020. Clearly, mayonnaise is far from dead.
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illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
American Cheese

Bloomberg published a story in October that claimed millennials' latest victim was American cheese. In the piece, Bloomberg cited Euromonitor International data that U.S. sales of processed cheese are projected to drop 1.6% this year and that this will be the fourth-straight year of declines for this type of product. The publication then points to millennials as the root of American cheese's demise. Actually, what was written exactly is, "The product, made famous by the greatest generation, devoured by boomers on the go and touted as the basis for macaroni and cheese, the well-documented love object of Gen X, has met its match with millennials demanding nourishment from ingredients that are both recognizable and pronounceable."

While we're not at all tempted to apologize for preferring to ingest recognizable ingredients, the piece doesn't actually provide any evidence that millennials are to blame for American cheese's continual drop in sales, and we don't know about you, but we've rarely ever seen anyone over the age of seven devouring a Kraft Single. Instead, it seems like Americans from all generations have, in recent years, begun to opt for real, unprocessed cheese more often. According to, cheese consumption in the U.S. is actually way up; it reached a record high in 2017, at 37.23 pounds per person. Though we do enjoy the occasional Ro-Tel dip made with plastic-y Velveeta cheese, for the most part, we're happy with made-from-milk cheeses becoming the more popular choice.
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illustrated by Isabel Castillo Guijarro.
Large Turkeys

In the week leading up to Thanksgiving 2018, Bloomberg struck again with a story called "Millennials Are Disrupting Thanksgiving With Their Tiny Turkeys." Why should people of other generations let the fact that we want smaller birds "disrupt" their holidays? It's not like we're no longer celebrating Thanksgiving or giving up turkey altogether. Also, Whole Foods said its most popular size of turkey was on the larger side this year, between 14 and 18 pounds, and Bell and Evans' best seller was the 12 to 14-pound turkey, so bigger birds clearly aren't disappearing.

According to the article, millennials' growing penchant for smaller turkeys is thanks to the fact that we are more aware of industrial farming practices, we're celebrating the holiday in smaller groups, and we're more concerned about food waste. All of these sound like positives to us.
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illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Canned Tuna

Just last week, the Wall Street Journal pronounced canned tuna was dying and that it was, of course, all thanks to millennials. According to the piece, "Per capita consumption of canned tuna has dropped 42% in the three decades through 2016, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture." For this one, sadly, we have to take most of the responsibility since the millennial market research firm Mintel found that 32% of consumers aged 18 to 34 recently bought canned fish or shellfish, compared with 45% of those 55 years old and older.

The reasons canned tuna has lost cachet among millennials are apparently that many of us prefer non-processed foods and some of us also don't even own can openers. The fact remains, however, canned tuna is damn delicious, and we don't want to see it die. Hopefully, with the help of brands creating innovative packaging and working toward using higher quality ingredients, we can ensure canned tuna never takes its final smelly breath.
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