Maybe you’ve seen the latest in my favourite internet genre, Industries the Millennials are Killing, a frankly bananas screed about mayonnaise, political correctness, the greatest generation, and the “Taylor Swift of condiments” all sprinkled with anachronistic young people speak from a Baby Boomer refusing to go gentle into that good night. Instead she is raging, raging against the dying of the light (of mayo-based salads).
The piece, in brief, argues that millennials are killing mayonnaise based on the fact that the author’s mayonnaise-laden dishes are no longer favoured at family picnics. This is the basis of her entire piece and yet the very foundation of her argument–that millennials aren’t buying mayo–is refuted near the end of the piece where she cites consumer research showing that millennials are the largest consumers of mayo (this is, somehow, negated by the fact that the Association for Dressings and Sauces which commissioned the research had, at some point, changed it’s name from the Mayonnaise Products Manufacturers Association. This is, clearly, due to snowflake liberals who require, I don’t know, mayonnaise trigger warnings? [Honestly, I once had an avocado maki roll that had unexpected mayonnaise and I could have used the fucking content warning. Yikes.])
On the topic of snowflake liberals, we have one of the most bizarre leaps in logic couched in a clear love of her precious little mayo-loving boy and intense dislike of her bitch of a daughter who, as a women’s and gender studies major, naturally loathes mayonnaise.
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.
In one of my favourite paragraphs, the author introduces multiple (well, two) theories for the dislike of mayo from unnamed experts and then swiftly dismisses them all in favour of her own pet theory: “The only reason for this raging mayophobia is a generation’s gut-level renouncement of the Greatest Generation’s condiment of choice.”
(As an aside, she also introduces one of the worst sentences I have ever read in my life: My mom made a dynamite one with black cherry Jell-O, walnuts, olives, canned cherries and small balls of cream cheese.)
*Pause for gagging to cease*
It’s this (the Greatest Generation bit, not the vomit-inducing “gelled salad”) that starts to get at what, I think, is actually the heart of the piece, which is missed in her fervent and unsubstantiated focus on mayo:
Just because something is old and white doesn’t mean it’s obsolete. Look at Shakespeare. Look at me.
It is only in the last fifth of the article that we actually get to the heart of the piece: Hingston feels overlooked, obsolete, and invisible. This is an interesting and challenging phenomenon that has devastating consequences (say, one Donald J Trump getting elected, or, more recently in Canada, Doug Ford getting elected premier of Ontario on a regressive and hateful platform).
And exploring these feelings that are gendered and raced and classed through a lens of changing food norms and tastes (which are themselves gendered and raced and classed– as is the labour that goes into making and producing food) could be fascinating and nuanced and important.
But instead we got a Boomer using Millennial slang, making leaps in logic worthy of a gold medal, and bizarrely pitting her precious computer programmer son against her feminist, mayo-hating daughter.
Glad I won’t be going to their Labour Day picnic.