Maybe you’ll start your day with a pink smoothie bowl, full of chia seeds and raspberries and other pink fruits. On your way to work, you’ll pick up a pink drink – a “crisp, Strawberry Acai Refreshers Beverage, with . . . accents of passion fruit” and an Instagram cult following.
For lunch? A bowl of pink beet hummus, maybe garnished with some suddenly everywhere watermelon radish, the perfect shade of fuchsia. Wash it down with a rose-coloured can of La Croix.
Dessert? An array of pink macaroons.
For happy hour, the choices are abundant: pink cans of rosé, pink gin, pink tequila, bottles of wine with such names as Summer Water and Pretty Young Thing, or frozen rosé (frosé).
And at the end of the day, if all this pink food is inspiring a sudden queasiness, you can wash it all down with pink Gaviscon.
Food is fashion, and fashion is food, and that’s why pink food became gradually, then suddenly, a thing. First, Pantone named Rose Quartz – a muted, dusty pink with the slightest hint of orange – one of its 2016 colours of the year, when it had already been popping up in clothing and accessories.
It was more sophisticated than Barbie pink, more cynical than magenta. Brands like Thinx, an underwear company, and Acne jeans used the colour in their marketing. The colour took on a new name, thanks to the demographic that was most attracted to it: millennial pink. It expanded to include a wider range of shades, from a classic, warmer pink to peachy-beige to salmon.
But one of the real drivers of the trend was the transformation of rosé from a slightly tacky punchline wine to a mark of affordable sophistication, a “lifestyle bevvie” and an expression of female sisterhood. #roséallday!
The colour pairs particularly well with tiny cans – giving us about a dozen nearly identical choices.
As rosés started to sell swiftly, everyone wanted a piece of the pie. The Internet went agog over an attractively bottled pink gin (Wölffer Estate Vineyard makes it with rosé). Tequila brand Código 1530’s chairman Ron Snyder, the former chief executive of Crocs, says he didn’t set out to take advantage of the trend by selling a pink tequila, but when his tequila maker showed him the technique of aging it in barrels of fine red wine, he realized he had an instant hit. Pink gin is also major trend in South Africa, thanks to Musgrave Gin.
“Rosés are prob the hottest drink this summer, so we said, ‘This is going to be a very popular tequila for men, women, whomever,’ ” Snyder said. “Everyone’s making pink drinks out of it. They add some grapefruit. . . . When we get all of our tequilas into a bar or store, you’re drawn to the pink.”
But it’s not just about alcohol. The colour itself came to take on the qualities we associated with rosé – which were, in part, assigned by marketers.
Free-spiritedness, casual luxury, youth, popularity: These are all qualities brands would like to associate with their products. They’re also inherently Instagrammable: Just look at the more than 23,000 photos with the millennial pink hashtag on Instagram.
And then there’s the list of “12 Foods To Satisfy Your Millennial Pink Tooth” by Refinery 29 (pink marshmallows, strawberry mochi ice cream and Belvoir Fruit FarmsElderflower and Rose Pressé – a brand that is on its way to La Croix-level cool-girl status). The cover of “Sweetbitter,” the coming-of-age novel about the New York restaurant scene. The 2016 launch of Le Creuset’s millennial pink “hibiscus” collection of cookware. The Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino, which was absolutely revolting, but sold out anyway.
So it became obvious, very quickly: Make something pink and make money. You may think you just love pink – and maybe you do! – but also, you’re just susceptible to a pervasive marketing trend. “The colour keeps on selling product,” New York Magazine wrote in its extensive history of millennial pink. And every time you take a photo of a pink drink, you’re helping them do it.
It seems to make food needlessly gendered, too. Many words have been spent explaining that part of the appeal of millennial pink in fashion is that it is androgynous, but that’s not how it has played out in the food world.
Rosé consumed by men needed its own name, brosé, to give it a harder edge, a distinction that wouldn’t be needed if we were truly, as GQ asserts, in an “egalitarian world of gender-fluid beverage consumption.”
But most pink foods and beverages are unambiguously marketed toward women.
Is all any of this pink stuff as good as it looks? That’s in the eye, and taste buds, of the beholder, of course. But pink food fatigue is setting in: “While no one can deny that rosé rhymes with #allday and #yesway and s’il vous plait, for me, the truly telling coincidence is that it rhymes with okay,” wrote Sarah Miller in a recent Eater essay. Okay, as in: meh. But pink is here to stay, at least until another colour knocks it off its peppermint-coloured pedestal.
“This is a trend right now, and every trend leaves and there’s another trend,” Pietro Quaglia of New York’s Pietro Nolita, said. But pink, he believes, is eternal. “This millennial concept, I don’t really get it. Yes, it’s cool now, but . . . pink has been around longer than that.”
The Washington Post.