Snaxshot #27: American Snaxboi

"I was returning some snacks"

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

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“There is an idea of a Snaxboi, but there is no real me, only an entity on an Erewhon run, and though I can hide my cold Recess and you can shake my hand and feel Snacklins dust gripping yours, maybe you can even sense our hard seltzer picks are comparable —I simply am not there.”

🔮 Peek into the future:

  • Food and Bev as Signalers

  • The Role of 90s Aesthetics

  • The Better For You Chasm

  • Enter the Snax Paradox

  • What’s New You Ask?

  • Spoonful of News

***DID YOU SEE WE MADE THE NEW YORKER?!***

Who Are We, What Do We Want?

I'm on the verge of tears by the time I arrive at Whole Foods, since I'm positive they won't have a decent selection. But they do, and relief washes over me in an awesome wave.

Listen, the mud soup and the charcoal arugula are outrageous here.

Millennials, we believe in taking care of ourselves as reflected in our purchases. The majority of us fill our baskets with products that promise Instagrammable health, but for the most part, this behavior stems out of seeing food and beverage brands as an extension of ourselves, yes we want better but we want it to signal affluence as well. Less than being a “yuppie” the snaxboi fits more the criteria that Web Smith defined a few years back, HENRY (High Earners, Not Rich Yet) —food after all, is more attainable on a daily basis, but in the same way we would signal walking down the airports in our overpriced carryons, we’ve made olive oil and spices the signalers of pantry shelves.

—Convenience is what 53% of Gen Z and 55% of millennial shoppers want most in a future grocery shopping experience, according to FMI report The Grocery Shopping Habits Of Gen Z And Millennials

—Even though our generation’s spending will increase over time, Millennials already spend more per trip than any other generation.

—58% of boomers and mature shoppers name a supermarket as their primary store for groceries, compared to just 43% of gen X and younger shoppers. Gen Xers turn to supercenters more often than any other generation, while younger generations (gen Z, millennials) look to limited assortment stores (such as Trader Joe's, Aldi) and online more often than boomers

—Millennials typically take their time to browse for particular products across brands—more often than settling on a product and purchasing it. Similarly, according to The Balance, Gen Zs prefer stores that make products accessible and easy to test. Grocery shopping becomes less of a rushed, stressful chore and more of a discovery-filled adventure for young shoppers. (WHAT HAVE I BEEN SAYING?!)

Cannot recall growing up with ketchup as something to brag about, but now we crave, at times in a manic manner, the ability to display our fermented Dark Horse organic umami ketchups in our bare pantry shelves —in its 2021 trend report, Pinterest noted that the area of the home that was getting the most makeovers was the kitchen, particularly the pantry shelf as well as cabinets. You know that cringe, cheug, saying “I want my money where I can see it, in my closet?” Well, we want our money where we can see and eat it, inside our pristine looking fridges and pantries. After all, the shelvie is the new selfie.

With this behavior in mind, the modern grocer as well as upcoming food and beverage brands, are shaping themselves to fit the criteria that would satisfy that urge to “signal” —if you’ve ever watched American Psycho, you could easily compare Erewhon to Dorsia and the infamous business card scene could be subbed by a bunch of snaxbois exchanging discoveries found at an overcrowded modern grocer beverage aisle, a sea of sameness, but not in their eyes of course. They can pick out the difference between “hemp” and “CBD” as well as “nootropic” and “caffeine” —but to the foreign eye, it would look and feel like, sheer insanity.

90s Cartoons Were Fucking Gross

In “Horny, Horny People” I laid the foundations for my theory as to where this behavior stems from in Millennials, relating to snacks being the original signaler for us, because it was the first parlay into “perceived value” as in, you knew that Dunkaroos and Lunchables were top tier trade, as opposed to your Mom’s PB&J, (no offense to anyone’s mom, but playgrounds in the 90s were brutal.) To better understand this, we have to go back in time, to where the majority of us grew up, (sorry geriatrics, I am NOT including you in this so kindly fuck off) —the 90s. If you’re like me, you probably filled your spare time as a kid devouring Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, etc. Remember “One Saturday Morning?”—regardless of what your channel of preference was, we can all agree that the cartoons we grew up with were garbage, and I mean LITERAL garbage. I present, for your consideration, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, it literally took place under a city dump and one of the main characters was a furry orange monster who carried its eyeballs in their hands and had an abnormal arm pit stench, the main female monster scared people by reaching inside her body and pulling her organs inside out, yooo this is the shit we grew up with, if you’ve suppressed this memory, perhaps this is a good place to stop reading.

Were 90s cartoons just a permeation of grunge? Grunge was an alternate movement, a pushback that rose out of the yuppie era, and it can be reflected in our childhood television. I mean, who could forget the show Creepy Crawlers that was filled with green slime (and can we just talk about our obsession with this? SLIME TIME LIVE!) and a literal commando of grotesque, mutant, insects. Like sewage was a main theme in several cartoons not to mention even just the eerie and scary disproportions of 90s cartoons, take Ren and Stimpy for example, not only was Ren’s angry face top most disturbing thing I’ve seen as a kid, but there’s so many bizarre scenes that to this day, can’t believed grazed our screens.

Sorry but what the actual fuck?

Before digressing too much, let’s bring this back to the original theme of, why are we so obsessed with aesthetically pleasing things in the first place? Was the blanding of brands that we experienced in the 2010s just a refraction as we entered adulthood were we bended what we grew up with into something that was more soothing to our gazes, as a counter to the horrid visions of younger days? Is this the reason why we are so obsessed with that sleek, matte apothecary bottle look that has permeated from everything to olive oil, aperitifs and alcohol? The same reason I think JNCOS and bedazzled Ed Hardy hats have led today’s fashionistas to opt for Aimé Leon Dore that screams yuppie athleisure.

I am here to theorize, that this is the case. Pleasurable pastels were a way to undo the goo from our past, but fuck, who can blame us?

Crossing the Better For You Chasm

When did we start to see this suppressed trauma yield fruit? As soon as Millennials came of age, what I call the Better-For-You Chasm it’s when our pull as a generation got stronger, you saw the rise of the “better brands” that saw an unfulfilled niche, who is catering to the needs of the snaxboi? Think of what Sir Kensington was able to do, become such a threat to the BigFood establishment that Unilever had to buy it because it couldn’t compete, all on the premise of better ketchup, Halo Top has a similar story. By the mid 2010s, we saw something that hadn’t happen in decades, water sales outpacing soda that sparked the seltzer wars, beer and wine losing market share to… hard seltzer? (In 2019, the sale of bottles of wine declined for the first time in 25 years!)

By 2020, we have crossed the better for you chasm and Snaxbois have become apex consumer. The same way Dorsia is the hot spot in American Psycho, so has Erewhon become the watering hole for the snaxboi persona, consider this piece in New York Times detailing this very behavior. Trickled down to mainstream, we see these concepts popping up in every major city, as well as 2-tier cities, all catering to the American snaxboi. The LA Mag recently spoke on the “rise of neighborhood grocer” the truth is this is what millennials want, groceries with a side of aesthetics. If I can’t post a photo of my pristine metallic basket that serves as a perfect backdrop to Recess cans, Boon sauce and Hot Sloth—bruh, I don’t want it.

BigMoney knows this too, to cater to the ever hungry snaxboi, we see the likes of Foxtrot Market raise large amounts of capital to expand their store print, with a coming soon-to a city-near you, type of scale. See, we are done with the “better for you” options, we are now into perpetual discovery phase, entering these stores that are built with the snaxboi in mind, versus crowded with irrelevant brands just because they can afford more slots (sorry BigFood) —it’s like pressing a button that says, “fuck me up fam” an endless Eden that offers pleasantries in the form of refreshing Ruby, Aurora Elixirs, dreamy Dram cans, indulgent ice creams that are non-dairy, mushroom jerky and more. Enter the rise of “functional unwinding"rise of sober curious" “shroom boom” “CBD x CPG” “brave new alt-world” etc, we are now in an explorative phase that is going to define what the modern pantry looks like, possibly without the existence of any legacy brands in tow.

Millennials are breeding, we are literally morphing Gen Alpha into mini-mes, as seen around these trendy grocers, these tiny beings surrounding themselves with these beautiful products, and who knows, maybe they too will grow to reject them, and the cycle continues.

Beware Snax Paradox

It’s also necessary to mention, that snaxbois are top tier, and if 2020 taught us anything, is that when the shit hits the roof, we resort back to what is familiar to us. That is why BigFood, despite being our nemesis, became our biggest snackpiece— after ghosting them for years….“You up?” we asked. This is why I have been preaching for a year now, the need for curation, the utility-first mindset, what the fuck is this product actually a replacement of? If not, the average consumer will retreat to what its familiar with, the snax paradox details this behavior, people can be turned off by “adaptogenic cookie dough” —why would it necessitate that?

As someone who is consumer centric, and keeps finger on pulse of a more mainstream audience, as oppossed to an Erewhon shelf, I’ve had many conversations on the vagueness and buzzword-filled frenzy that is seen online, in shelfs, etc. Did you see Dole launched “functional” beverages, when does the madness end? Similar to American Psycho, when he literally sees signs on the ATM that say “feed me a stray cat” —that’s exactly what the current situation feels like. Take for example this brand that is asking you to “hydrate your coffee” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! Also isn’t the purpose of these products to be more of a complement, and not like more fucking work on our end? Or like powdered kombucha, why the fuck was this necessary, I can just, you know buy it when I want it? The idea of carrying around powdered kombucha sticks stresses me out.

Let’s be real, if you want to capture mass audiences, you have to meet people in the middle, like the secondary characters surrounding Patrick Bateman, you can’t trust the perception of the American snaxboi, you gotta do a double take, ground yourself in reality a lot more.

What’s New You Ask?

Here’s a curated section of new brands to feed your inner snaxboi.

Noodie: Make way for a new better for you ramen, female founded and promising a more nutritious slurp. Launching soon so be on the look out, you heard it here first!

Inner Atlas: Beautiful brand from Australia, that is another brand of mushroom blends, that adapts to parts of your day, falls into “functional unwinding” category.

Lilk: Move over Oatly, the time for the blends is now! This beautiful milk cartons offer a combination of oats, rice, quinoa and others.

Soso: For all the talk of hard seltzer frenzy dying down, this is one of the several sake RTD brands I’ve seen pop out, sake seltzer, for your consideration, super kawaii branding too.

De ELLA: Newly launched, this absolutely stunning mezcal bottle would make any snaxboi bar cart happy.

Corner Store: Featuring both cocktails and mocktails, this beautifully branded, vintage looking cans are launching soon.

Frost: Guilt-free, protein, frosting?! Ok, can you please respond to this email telling me what you think about this concept? Do you dig it? Are you turned off, are you confused?!

Liquid Light: Further proving my point that gel pen aesthetics are back, these beautiful wine bottles would make the perfect gift for any host.

Starla: Fuck low abv bruh, the future is alcohol removed wines, particularly when they are this beautiful.

Calirosa: Motherfucker can celebrities STOP LAUNCHING TEQUILA BRANDS?! Please respond with your take on Adam Levine’s Calirosa.

Casa Lú: Leave it to Miami to give us RUM BASED SELTZER AND RUM SELTZER KEGS?!

Chilcuage: This beautiful agave contains the actual chilcuage which translates to “golden root” —snaxboi approved?

Sanacore: Based in Italy, this pastry shop created these stunning bottles of limoncello and mandarino liqueur have won me over, BRB buying flight.

pét project: It’s pét nat brah, but with effervescence, super minimalist bottle too.

Spoonful of News 🥄

  • One of our favorite LatAm alts, NotCo raised at $1.5 B valuation, making it the 2nd ever unicorn from Chile (earlier Cornershop became the first)

  • Everyone lost their minds over Pizza Hut dropping streetwear but fast food and merch has always been a thing.

  • NoBell raises from the likes of Bill Gates to create an alt-cheese that has better consistency, which is something that has lacked in the past and has kept consumers out of switching.

  • Want more for your snacks? The snack that texts back, check out textaisle.com

Snax Concierge 🛎️

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