Snaxshot #18: Functional Unwinding

moods, they are a changing!

A newsletter on upcoming food and beverage trends that offers a curation of brands and aesthetics written by Andrea Hernández.

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
—"The Times They Are A Changing” Bob Dylan

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Comedy of Men Starts Like This

The concept of food as medicine is as old as our relationship to what nourishes us. However, in the past couple of years, it seems that Millennials in particular are rediscovering what has always been inherently part of us, but as industrialization and an appeal to “modern times” were indoctrinated, it seems we have long lost connection with food. Food as we know it has changed as well, blame mono-cropping, mass production to satisfy gargantuan demands derived from a culture of wastefulness, etc —most of the food we consume at times, is unfortunately mostly deprived of its nutrients usually lost during processes to preserve shelf life, etc. So we turn to other stimulants to help us mitigate that void —caffeine to help us energize, alcohol to help us unload ourselves from the stress we purposely intake, supplements of all kinds to balance out a “lack” —all stemming from a culture of productivity that has falsely made us believe our worth is tied to our output, stress became our biggest antagonist as a generation.

This is our decision to live fast and die young
We've got the vision, now let's have some fun
Yeah, it's overwhelming, but what else can we do?
“Time to Pretend” MGMT

We are constantly seeking to alter our states in some way or another, ironically at a time where “presence” and “awareness” have become so popular, though escapism isn’t new and it’s as old as civilization itself. It does seem that as a generation we are so disconnected from food and its inherent properties, that we are now being resold this knowledge at a premium, see the commodification of wellness and Goopification of traditions that are indigenous and native to so many cultures for millennia. We are now inundated with promises of Instagrammable health and it’s a reason why Snaxshot exists, as a way to help you and others navigate through this Brave New World and offer some guidance living in a hyper capitalistic society that leaves one feeling at times you’re always been preyed upon through gimmicky marketing or a fancy website. (Did you know you can always submit your experiences through our anonymous hotline?)

They say the devil's water, it ain't so sweet
You don't have to drink right now
But you can dip your feet
Every once in a little while.
—”When You Were Young” The Killers

We went from feeling like we had to be constantly wired, America Runs on Dunkin they preached and so we caffeinated to run alongside. Red Bull gives you wings and so we chugged down energy drinks to fly just as high. It’s Miller Time preached we had to intoxicate ourselves to have a good time and so we turned to this escapism in search of “relaxation” —but soon enough, as the consuming generation that we are, we realized how detrimental these were in excess. So our burnout selves began to search for “better for us” ways to take a load off, whilst seeking the same stimulation, state alteration of sorts, or at least a placebo effect.

The only thing that seems to make them feel alive
Is the struggle to survive
But the only thing that they request
Is something to numb the pain with
Until there's nothing human left
“Pure Comedy” —Father John Misty

Enter the rise of the sober curious movement, of the CBD x CPG trend, shroom boom, and adaptogenic everything. We are now trying to find a way to achieve balance, how can we exist in states simultaneously, without one overpowering the other?

Where the tree of good and evil still resides

Here’s what’s driving this shift in consumer demand:

As of 2019U.S. beer volumes were down 2.3% — fourth straight year of declines and for the first time in 25 years, wine sales declined as American drinkers are more focused on health and wellness

—Booming demand for functional beverages is propelling the non-alcoholic beverage market registering a CAGR of 4.7% (2019 - 2024)

—Alcohol/low abv category volume to grow by over 35% by 2023

—Alcohol-free beer is forecasted to grow 47% globally

—CBD infused beverages will be a $2.8 billion market by 2025 as consumers seek to foods with therapeutical properties

—Year-on-year sales of products containing medicinal mushrooms have risen 200-800% depending on the type of mushroom

—Sales of mood support products were up by about 9.6% year-on-year for the first seven months of 2020

—According to SPINS adaptogen sales were up double digits in 2020

—Overall adaptogens market is expected to be $23.4 billion by 2030

Welcome to the Jungle, We’ve Got Adaptogens

And so does everyone and everything else in 2021— there’s even adaptogenic deodorant, the word adaptogen is becoming devoid of meaning, similar to what “CBD” has gone through, and “organic” before it. There’s a reason why I use notanotherCBDproduct.com —where there’s demand there will be exploitation of these concepts, even as it becomes detrimental to an actual net positive movement, like the idea of reconnecting us with food and the concept of food as medicine. BigFood is not far behind, Mondelez (SnackDaddy) launched an adaptogenic butter this year, both Smart Water and Evian now have “functional beverages” and in a matter of time, we will probably see Starbucks launch an adaptogenic coffee blend.

They build fortunes poisoning their offspring
And hand out prizes when someone patents a cure

—“Pure Comedy” Father John Misty

Marketing around adaptogen products has unfortunately been grossly exaggerated, and worse when it’s just a crossover of buzzwords like “nootropic and adaptogenic” or “CBD and Nootropic” or “CBD and adaptogenic” — not that these ingredients don’t have validity around the functions they can aid in, but the fact that mass-producing these products can raise questions around the sourcing and how much of these actual ingredients are being diluted to make a profit. It’s valid to be skeptical as it seems that this has become the ultimate gold rush, heck there are even influencers pushing out psychedelic water, that in fact has no psychoactive, creating false expectations around a product —you get my point.

There are however those who are putting in the work and are being transparent of their sourcing, providing educational resources to inform consumers around what these doses actually can do, and setting consumer expectations correctly.

Functional Unwinding

I’ve been a fan of Recess ever since their IRL pop-up shop in 2019, an Instagrammable, pastel oasis that led to an impulsive purchase of one ginger peach can, by now my favorite flavor. The whole experience was novel to someone who had never had a drink that promised a relaxed feeling that wasn’t something alcoholic, it tasted good, and it didn’t make me feel dizzy or nauseous, it just made me feel in a present state, an odd feeling walking down the busy streets of New York. Since then, I’ve tried all their different flavors and have been preaching its goodness for a while, I may have even started a cult unintentionally.

The appeal of Recess as a brand is that they don’t ever seem to be riding on a coat tail of a trend everyone seems to be so thirsty for (pun intended) —they seemed to shy away from it altogether, for starters not labeling themselves as CBD infused, but also building out their brand intentionally, focused around the solution they were offering, a promise of relaxation that wouldn’t inhibit you, it’s what I now call, functional unwinding.

Ben Witte’s vision of it is inspiring, we’ve had many prior conversations about what Recess is building towards, more approachable functional products, that don’t push for “better for you” because in his words that means “less bad” —instead, seeking to connect us to the old adage, food as medicine, as complementary to our constant flows of state, aiding our functions and not inhibiting them or altering them in a detrimental way. How can one beverage drink accomplish that? Enter Recess Mood.

“Calm the mind, lift the mood.” is the promise of this new lineup that uses magnesium L-threonate, the only form of magnesium that is shown to enter the brain (vs other types) and promotes improved mood and stress reduction. Did you know that nearly half the US population is deficient in this, is it any wonder we are deemed a “burnout” generation? Functional unwinding is about getting your body to be simultaneously de-stressed but able to still be able to go about your day without having to feel like you can’t do anything else because you’ve committed to this eased state, instead it allows for your moods and states to coexist peacefully.

I’m excited for this new stage for Recess, they are creating and leading the whole “relaxation” movement and have been paving the way for others to do the same, see their efforts in CBD overall. Though often used as an example of millennial branding, it’s not their aesthetics that make up what Recess is, it’s their intentional building that focuses on delivering a specific experience, not overpromising, not under-delivering, but staying true to their vision that is to help our generation functionally unwind. They are leading the great reset of consumer products, one Recess at a time.

Moods, They Are A-Changing

Here’s a curation of more state-of-being, complements from around the world, for every time of day.

Breakfast

PICNIK: Oat milk stans will probably be happy to give this adaptogenic creamer a try, even if turns out to be just pretty packaging. It contains lions mane, cordyceps, eleuthero, and ashwagandha, functional amino acids like l-tyrosine and l-theanine, it’s supposed to be a creamy way to alertness, there’s only one way to find out…

Crave Natural: Need to focus? Low on energy? There’s an oat dish for that, or at least according to this brand. Nothing says mindfulness like adaptogenic breakfast stew, amirite?

mindright: Nothing is more appealing than the colorful outline of a brain on the packaging of a snack bar, brains over beauty EVERY DAY, ok? This snack bar calls their combination of adaptogens, “brain blend” and I’m unsure whether it’s genius or cringe, either way, they are not just brain food, they are, in their own words, “Good Food Superfood” —I will let you be the judge.

Off Limits: We’ve featured them before in our cereal issue but would be remiss if we didn’t include their Zombie cereal as they contain adaptogens and I love the juxtaposition of the name, if you’ve got some time to spare, definitely spend time in their toy store!

Taika: Based in San Francisco, apart from being just, really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking cans, (in my best Zoolander voice) they are an adaptogenic coffee brand that promises energy without the jitters. They’ve raised around $2.7 M in seed funding so far.

Good Ritual: Also featured before in our New Year’s resolution issue, but included again because it’s the first, specialty instant coffee with l-theanine. My favorite part of this, is that apparently, Australians are coffee snobs because it’s founded by two and they “approve” so I guess that’s a seal of quality of sorts?

Alchemyze: Look, it is what it is, adaptogenic chai. LOL

Renude: Ugh, detest that they have “Gwyneth Paltrow puts this in her coffee” as if that’s any kind of good signaler? Re: Goopification, but included here because I’ve talked about chaggacinos in previous Snaxshot rooms and well, this is what it’s about.

Goldmine: Amongst the myriad of powder adaptogens out there, I vibe with Goldmine’s aesthetics and honest-as-fuck, background, “built by burnout millennials”—yo, I’m with ya!

Hydrate

Droplet: Featured before in our New Year issue, sparkling, stress-balancing, adaptogen drink made with whole fruit juices, and superfoods.

HOP WTR: They deem themselves the healthy alternative to beer. A non-alcoholic, hop-filled, sparkling water brewed with adaptogens and nootropics

Free Rain: This sparkling water said it was created because it wanted more sparkling water with more function, as in, in addition to keeping you hydrated.

Adapt: This Australian brand is targeted specifically towards women who need help “adapting to stress” —still trying to figure out if this is why they made their water pink.

Kite: Based in Canada, the founders started with herbs, mason jars, and a soda stream and since then it’s been quite the upgrade for them, love their can design!

Recovery

Unlit: They are recovery drinks, here to make your hangover less miserable through the power of adaptogens?

Pantry

Wander: Your condiments needed an additional function as well, so this company creates hand-crafted, functional adaptogenic chili oil, umami sprinkles, and maca syrup.

Mycro: Another adaptogenic honey —they offer a vitality, calm, and immunity option.

Groovy: Mentioned them in the previous issue of spreads, but in case you missed them, they are a 70s inspired brand of adaptogenic nut butters hailing from NYC.

Rainbo: Very in love with this Canadian brand’s minimalist aesthetic (why I’ve featured them before) but perhaps what I love most is their “forest juice” or adaptogenic maple syrup.

Rooted Life: Look if your nut butters don’t serve a function besides being chewy or smooth, what are they really doing? Rooted life offers an array of adaptogenic nut butter.

Social

Peak: They are based in the UK, contain both adaptogens AND nootropics, these social tonics and “elixirs” will continue to be the rage no matter the format, especially after the year we’ve been through, these beautiful cans will do great in summer!

Reishi Kombucha: Super niche and still in beta, based in Vancouver, this brand has a beautiful butterfly pea flower and rose flavor.

FUNGTN: Born in the UK, featured them way back (pre-launch) in our mushroom issue but they have officially launched since then. They deem themselves the world’s first adaptogenic, non-alcoholic beer and are available in England, Scotland and Wales.

KFR: Based in the UK, but unsure where this classifies under, it claims that they are mood-boosting kefir water, and again, it’s pink!

Curious Elixirs: Featured them way back in our first issue but bringing it back again because it’s a non-alcoholic, adaptogenic drink for those “sober curious” —their tagline is great “shaken, not slurred”

Three Spirit Drinks: Hailing from the UK but available in stores in the US as well, these are elixirs crafted to complement a different social setting —livener, social elixir, and their nightcap. Would highly recommend the livener for its flavor.

Dessert

Sonhab: These chocolates, more than just adaptogenic bars are literal works of art. Beautifully handcrafted and the execution is flawless, see for yourself.

Eat Gold Organics: These adaptogenic chocolate bites serve different functions, not just a mood complement but maybe even inducing a literal orgasm??

Sunscoop: Adaptogenic ice cream, their flavor combination sound insanely good and their overall aesthetics are great! More than just a function of indulgence, it’s also allergen friendly.

Brainbow: Also based in Canada, these bonbons contain 1000mg of adaptogens and I’m very into their minimalist look.

Vehicle Chocolates: They are not just a chocolate bar with adaptogens but they also have a great origin story, founding during 2020, and also are part of 1% planet.

Non Verbal: A beautiful adaptogenic chocolate, founder Bobby Asplund and his partner created these using Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs. They are mood complementers for calm, energy, focus, etc.

Sleep

Driftwell: Pepsi’s version of that meme “How do you do fellow kids” dipping their toes in aesthetically pleasing, DTC waters but had to include in this list as it’s supposed to be a sleep aid beverage.

Elements: Another adaptogenic beverage, particularly listed here because they also have a beverage that is supposedly a sleep aid. They boast that they have “clinically effective” adaptogen blends.

Remrise: Powder adaptogenic sleep aids, they recently went through a whole rebrand and promise “emotional regulation” through better sleep.

FX Chocolate: I enjoyed going through this brand so much, because it’s like their functional chocolates are named “thrive” “dream” “defend” et others, and I’m like yes, nothing I like more than chocolate as a defense mechanism.

Pup-friendly

Botanical Bones: Adaptogenic dog treats, YOU READ THIS RIGHT.

Spoonful of News 🥄

See you again next week, in a different future, same place.

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