The ’20s ‘Caviar Bump’ Is a Status Symbol for Millennials, Gen Z: NYT

  • Licking caviar off your hand is the latest trend among millennials and Gen Z, reports the NYT.
  • Caviar has become more affordable and accessible in recent years.
  • It’s the latest piece of the “old money” aesthetic that’s captivating young people.

Some Millennials and Gen Zers yearn for a hump – of fish eggs.

Alyson Krueger of The New York Times reports that millennials are ingesting a language full of the upper class status symbol. As Krueger describes it, the “bumps” are more like licking salt off your hand after taking a shot of tequila; no one snorts caviar.

At Temple Bar, an iconic NoHo cocktail bar, which closed in 2017 but was resurrected in October 2021 amid the city’s post-vaccine jubilee — caviar bumps have entered the menu fall 2021. Today one will set you back around $20, just a dollar less than their martinis.

“What’s going to happen is somebody’s going to say, ‘Do we have to do a caviar bump?’ and that’s kind of mean,” Samantha Casuga, the Temple’s head bartender, told The New York Times. “Then other people see it and want to do one too.”

It’s the latest iteration of the younger generations going back to the past 20s – the Roaring 20s, barely a century ago. There is, of course, many parallels with the conditions of 100 years ago: The country has emerged from a deadly pandemic into a demented spending boom and an impending sense of socio-economic doom.

Millennials and Gen Z have already embraced the roaring ’20s aesthetic, as Insider’s Hillary Hoffower previously reported. They leaned into preppy and old money vibes, from tennis skirts to tweed blazers and everything vintage. Even their party is old school, with a glamorous, luxe nighttime aesthetic ruled by crystals, martinis and oysters dominating outings – a stark contrast to the self-care and wellness messages that fill social media feeds.

It’s a direct rebuke to the now obsolete phase of the jeans-and-hoodie tech prodigy, or laid-back boss. It doesn’t hurt that many traditional activities — think golf or boating — are purposely happening away from others, which has likely boosted their popularity during the ongoing pandemic.

Caviar bumps, like fast-fashion iterations of old-fashioned outfits and the coastal granny aesthetic, are also typically millennial: they’re a cheaper version of the original.

As The New York Times reports, caviar has become more accessible and affordable as farming has become more efficient and widespread in several countries, especially China. This means the price is no longer intolerable – or, at the very least, restrictive for someone spending over $20 on a drink – and it can be consumed more casually.

In other words, while Millennials and Gen Z have found solace in a nostalgic aesthetic, they still can only afford a bump. Of course, they may never be able to afford a home – and face a stark choice between a job that keeps pace with rising prices or a job that helps tackle the looming climate crisis – but at less, they can ephemerally taste a luxury par excellence. Don’t Google what happened after the Roaring 20s.

James V. Hayes