"Avocado toast is why millennials can't afford to buy houses." That was the 2017 headline from The Washington Post. Being a millennial isn't just defined by having been alive at the turn of the millennium. We've all seen the Emma Stone gif that quotes, "What better way to share my private thoughts than to broadcast them on the internet?" Everyone is already be identifying with the millennial persona. Millennials are a generation who actually get mad when their iCloud storage gets full. Having an Uber cancel on us already ranks as a top #problem. Alongside dedicating actual chunks of our days to choosing Instagram filters, turning vegan because "dunno," and replacing words with emojis, millennials are doing a lot of generation-specific things. The biggest one of all? Food.
Everyone should take a look at the dishes they're creating, choosing, or perfecting for that social media post. Then take a closer look. They might have their personal preferences (if they never could stand tofu, they're unlikely to start liking it), but they're fitting a trend. Millennials have changed the way coffees are served, fruits are smashed, and exactly how far we'll go to decorate a donut-topped milkshake. If whoever reading this is a millennial, they'll identify with these from the get-go. Here are 25 foods that all millennials will, for real, identify with. FYI, BTW, and IRL being a given here, of course...
25 MILLENNIALS ARE ALL ABOUT THE AVOCADO SMASHING
Something about being a 20- or 30-something just isn't complete without smashed avocado on toast. We're looking at kids who grew up on Cheerios and sausage biscuits, but that's gone out the window. Avocado toast has become the biggest generation Y symbol, although it's been a dish since 1885. The Washington Post defined it as "[defining] what makes food trends this decade: it's healthy and yet ever-so-slightly indulgent."
In 2017, a millionaire property developer said that millennial avocado on toast is the reason they will "never own homes."
24 SALTED CARAMEL ANYTHING
In 2008, food channels predicted that salted caramel would become "a thing." For once, a prediction that actually came true. This sweet and salty flavor explosion has become a literal explosion, and millennials are filling their mouths with whatever "salted caramel" food item they can find. Salted caramel is made by sprinkling sea salt into the sweet flavor for a taste-enhancing twist. From salted caramel brownies, cupcakes, and ice cream to a new PB&J addition, this is a food trend millennials have yet to get over.
23 FLAT WHITES ARE DOMINATING COFFEE ORDERS
Ordering coffee with hot milk? Don't you dare. Flat whites are the millennial's answer to coffee culture, even if hipsters have developed their own flat white economy – spot the bearded techie getting paid to code with flat whites. As #latteart takes over social media, it's official. Flat whites are a millennial food. Somewhat similar to the French café au lait, flat whites are espresso shots with 65-71 degree steamed milk. Flat whites are popular in the way that had The Irish Times reporting Starbucks considering "phasing out the cappuccino."
22 FREAKSHAKES ARE A THING
Milkshakes used to be a perfectly satisfactory treat as they were. You'd have three choices: vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry, and you'd generally be happy with one of the three. Enter the "freakshake." Oversized, larger-than-life shakes served in mason jars are where it's at, and millennials are happy to spend up to $15 for one. They are elaborately layered, red velvet cake-topped, and drizzled, complete with Oreo, graham cracker, or S'mores decor.
The Boston Burger Company's "freakshakes" are estimated to contain over 2000 calories. Definitely a splurge food.
21 ACAI BOWLS ARE THE WAY TO START YOUR DAY
Remember when breakfast stress was something you tried to avoid? Genius foods like instant oats and breakfast bars seemed to be the solution, but no – slaving over perfecting that acai bowl for Instagram is the only acceptable way for a millennial to start the day. Acai bowls are smoothie (or fruit) bowls with acai berries as an ingredient. Typical additions include chopped bananas, berries, coconut flakes, and a very colorful form of yogurt. Acai berries have risen in popularity due to their superfood status. The bowl? It's a status symbol.
20 ANYTHING WITH A #STREET FOOD
Many moons ago, street food was something you'd avoid – well, unless you wanted a seriously upset stomach. The underdog has risen, though. It's even turned gourmet. Millennials are now basing entire vacations on where and when they can get street food paella or hand-pulled noodles, and the craze has gone global. Our take is that it's all good. Street food is a fun, sociable, and often affordable way to taste your way around the globe. How else could you sample Turkish, Vietnamese, Moroccan, and Jewish food all within six feet of each other?
19 RAINBOW BAGELS
Normal bagels, but psychedelic. Yes, millennials are all about exploring – destinations, concepts, filters, and definitely color. When New York's multi-colored snack arrived in London, it was a big enough deal for The Guardian to run a story on it. Rainbow bagels became a thing after Kim Kardashian's foodie best friend Jonathan Cheban shared Snapchat pics of himself with one. The color comes from up to seven types of colored dough mixes which are flattened, then layered. You get a super-sweet flavor, and, if you're lucky, multi-colored frosting or sprinkles.
18 SRIRACHA ON EVERYTHING
When Time listed the ten items millennials buy far more often than anyone else, Sriracha hot sauce ranked third. Spicing up potato chips, cooked dishes, croutons, and even pizza toppings at Pizza Hut, this condiment has become the go-to addition for millennial plates. "Millennials like hot, spicy foods because of their experience with more ethnic foods," the senior consumer research manager at Technomic said.
More than half of American households have hot sauce in their homes, and 9% specifically stock Sriracha.
17 UNICORN FRAPPUCCINOS ARE OFFICIALLY TRENDING
"People are freaking out over Starbucks' Unicorn Frappuccino." That's how USA Today chose to title their story on the coffee chain's latest addition to its ever-popular Frappuccino menu. The bright pink beverage is loved for its sweet-yet-sour undertones, Instagrammable look, and Disney-esque name. With its 80,000 possible combinations, the Frappuccino has become part of many millennials' identity, but nutritionists aren't happy. A grande Unicorn Frappuccino has 410 calories and 16g fat. If you're a regular consumer, bear in mind that non-fat, no-whip is available.
16 GLUTEN-FREE PANCAKES
To be fair, that could easily be "gluten-free anything," but for some reason, pancakes are finding themselves hardest hit. Alternative health trends basically define millennials – from the dairy-free milk trends to wheat or gluten-free foods. Doctors remain skeptical on some of these trends (particularly ones that deplete the body of nutrition unless compensatory foods are consumed), but there isn't much harm in having the odd gluten-free pancake. The rise of all gluten-free foods has definitely been welcomed by those who are actually intolerant.
15 SUSHI BURRITOS ARE A MILLENNIAL INVENTION
Millennials have a lot to be proud of. For all the flack we get for spending our lives behind our phones, we've proven that we can be innovative, from fashion to food. Sushi was all good this time ten years ago. So were burritos. It was just a matter of time before the two coincided to form the latest food trend – sushi burritos. Fusing Mexican food with Japanese cuisine isn't something the over 50's can wing, so this one's on us. Plus, they're generally nice and healthy.
14 GRANOLA IS NOW ON THE FOOD PYRAMID
Have you noticed how the grocery store breakfast aisle is selling fewer and fewer traditional cereals? Seriously. It's more like 20% Frosted Flakes and Cheerios, and 80% super-healthy rolled oats. Granola burst onto the scene in the 2010s as the wholesome way for millennials to start their day. Granola bars, bowls, cookies, ice cream, and smoothies are how we're dictated to take this slow-release carb. What's often less visible, though, is how sugar-packed some of them are. If you're going for granola, check the labels before you make it your daily staple. The natural ones are fantastically healthy.
13 CLOUD EGGS ARE A THING
No, they aren't eggs that you can save to your iPhone. Cloud eggs really took force in 2017 as the fluffy, Gram-worthy take on eggs that are giving millennials a new way to brunch. Separated egg yolks vigorously beaten until they're stiff are the start – adding salt, pepper, and grated cheese before spreading onto bread and baking in the oven is the other half.
Cloud eggs are popular for their Instagram potential, but they're also lower in calories than traditional methods.
Make sure you leave a hole in the bread for adding your yolk at the end.
12 JACKFRUIT PULLED PORK FOR THE VEGANS
Burger mania is officially upon us. If it isn't Kendall Jenner posing outside In-N-Out in her Corvette, it's Kaley Cuoco chowing down on a cheeseburger before the Emmy's. Pulled pork has climbed the ranks to top the street food trend, and we can't get enough of it. In particular, jackfruit pulled pork. Why? Because it's the vegan take on traditional pulled pork (and it's yummy). Jackfruit cooks beautifully as a meat substitute. As soon as you stick it in a burger with a metric tonne of sauce, the millennials are happy.
11 JUICE IS ONLY ACCEPTABLE WHEN COLD-PRESSED
Millennials are fussy. They're also the most health-conscious generation known to date. Cold-pressed juice refers to the hydraulic process used to extract juice from fruits and vegetables – basically, the cold juice is bottled, sealed, and placed in a water-filled chamber that adds a ton of pressure. You're also paying a lot of money for the resulting product, but admit it – all that shiny packaging and "healthy feel" is worth it. Juice bars are the "in" place to hit pre or post-gym, and a cold-pressed juice is what you want to be seen carrying.
10 DECONSTRUCTED ANYTHING
Fashion is deconstructing things one asymmetric shirt at a time. Why not food? Millennials are more than happy to explore new food types, but they're just as stoked about breaking it down. Instead of complicating things, deconstructed food is a new way of presenting dishes that involves pulling apart the ingredients and making them visible. Think chicken parm that's chicken with a very separate parmesan section, plus some fancy salad decor. Deconstructed food started out giving the chef some aesthetic pleasure, but diners are loving it.
9 FANCY DONUTS
In 2016, Forbes reported that upscale donuts had become "a food craze." For anyone who likes to start their day with a simple coffee and a donut, here's a newsflash. You need to up your game. Gourmet donuts are increasingly in demand, and the likes of Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts are feeling the competition. When Forbes spoke to Voodoo Donut's owners, the mentions included pineapple iced donuts and choux buttermilk.
Voodoo Donut in Portland, Oregon was voted the US' most upscale donut shop. Maple bacon donut bars are "in vogue."
8 GOURMET TACOS
Move over, Taco Bell. Gourmet tacos are where it's at for millennial foodies. It's about 50/50 whether we'll opt to dine out for these or make our own– a pretty neat trend among millennials is finally making a return to cooking in our own kitchens. The gourmet part can be seen from the kind of flour used to make the tortilla, right through to fancy or unusual fillings. Cheap supermarket cheese and frozen beef is a big "no-no." More like prime chorizo, lime mayo, and blackened shrimp.
7 PROTEIN IS NOW SERVED IN BALLS
Instagram foodies and healthy eating moms around the world are digging this food right now. Alongside anything "no-bake," protein balls have enjoyed a boost. As healthy eating trends become fully fledged lifestyle choices, the focus on protein is bigger than ever. In the 2000s, we were downing shakes. Before that, protein came in very standard meat, fish, eggs, or cheese formats. Now that you can bake protein into a peanut butter, chocolate, or cookie dough-flavored treat, fitness desserts are the new way to get your quota.
6 UNICORN TOAST FOR A PASTEL BREAKFAST
When something goes viral, it goes viral. In 2017, social media platforms found themselves inundated with #UnicornToast – a breakfast concept that definitely pushed the boundaries of traditional toast breakfasts. Unicorn toast involves giving regular toast a little sprinkle of fairy dust, mostly in the form of dyed cream cheeses and sugary sprinkles. The trend definitely leans towards pastel pinks, blues, and whites, although every shade of purple is equally out there. Miami-based food stylist and photographer Adeline Waugh started the trend.
5 POKE BOWLS ARE GAINING HASHTAGS
Colorful, raw, seafood-filled, and fresh, poke bowls are where millennials are at. The Hawaiian dish takes chunks of raw fish, salt, candlenuts, and seaweed to give sushi a refreshing twist. It's definitely a fun word to say, but millennials are tapping "poke bowl" into their phones enough to have Hawaiian restaurants popping up all over the place. Of course, it helps that the Kardashians love them.
Maybe we just like saying "poke?" You know, like ahi ahi tuna. Hawaiian Poke restaurants doubled on Foursquare between 2014 and 2016.
4 OVERNIGHT OATS ARE DOMINATING MORNING FEEDS
And we're not talking about feeding ourselves. Waking up to social media feeds is the first way most millennials nourish themselves, although breakfast does come next. Overnight oats may sound like a novel invention, but they're actually the American name for the traditional Swiss Bircher Muesli. Super-healthy, this slow-release breakfast consists of rolled oats soaked overnight in fruits and yogurt. It's always healthiest when you make it yourself, but if you're grabbing breakfast out, overnight oats are definitely healthier than the bacon and pancakes.
3 PROPER RAMEN IS TRUMPING THE PACKAGED STUFF
Remember ramen as the broke college kid's food? Students would stockpile these 9-cents-a-pack snacks for late-night cramming (of food and knowledge). Now that millennials are all about tasting the authentic thing, quality ramen has hit the West with full force. The noodles are still there, but they're attractively presented in gourmet broths with chicken, shrimp, beef, pork, or vegetables. Of course, that signature egg completes the dish. Posting your ramen dish to social media is a way of earmarking your millennial status with a #Yum.
2 ROLL-UP ICE CREAM IS THE EDIBLE YOGA MAT
Amazingly, roll-up ice-cream didn't originate from some West Hollywood foodie. The Thai trend started making international waves in Colombia, Spain, Brazil, and the UK. Now it's reached America. Ice cream parlors across the country are joining the fold by taking this frozen treat and folding it – literally. The go-to format is to dress it up with extras like toasted marshmallows, gummy bears, coconut, and the most popular one of all: hot fudge. You can expect to pay up to $7 for a serving, but if you're going to treat yourself, do it with quality.
1 MILLENNIALS MADE MATCHA LATTES HAPPEN
Lattes have met their match – literally. Millennials are intent on infusing everything they eat and drink with that latest health trend. For the matcha latte, it came in the form of matcha powder. This Japan-imported green tea is praised for its "superfood" status, and it's a huge deal in the wellness world. Matcha tea is an antioxidant-rich tea with a cultural focus on meditation and spirituality.
There are 566,902 "MatchaLatte" hashtags on Instagram. Lattes have officially met their match.
Don't deny it – 90% of your Facebook friends are probably millennials. Even more of them will completely identify with this list. If you've got a 20 or 30-something friend, hit share. If you've got one with a sense of humor, hit it twice as fast. Your grandma? Probably not.