Millennials are the creators of foodie culture: they were the first to start food pages to share pics of their trending avocado toast, rolled ice cream, rainbow bagels, and latte art. For years, when YPulse has asked whether they’d rather go to a food festival or a musical festival, they’ve chosen food every time. This foodie generation might be alone in their habits, though; as Gen Z gets older, they’re just not buying into the same food and restaurant trends, or making it a staple on their socials. But, it’s not that Gen Z aren’t into food, just foodie culture—the way it looks right now, that is. YPulse’s trend report, The End of Foodie Culture (As We Know It) dives into what exactly is driving them toward a new look to being a foodie, if they consider themselves one at all.
Though YPulse looks at Gen Z and Millennials’ Cooking and Diet habits yearly, our trend report gives a fuller look at what exactly food culture means to them. Because foodie culture is not just about food, it’s about trying (or better yet, finding) the new viral item or recipe, or getting the perfect pic of your perfect meal. But for Gen Z, being a foodie isn’t so involved, and maybe it’s enough to just enjoy what they eat. These three stats show just how different these gens are when it comes to being, or not being, foodies:
While 54% of Gen Z do consider themselves foodies, it doesn’t quite measure up to the 66% of Millennials who say the same. And, as a gauge of just how invested they are in food culture, YPulse asked young people how passionate they are about it. The most enthusiastic, 39% of Millennials choose “I’m a total foodie and I’m passionate about foodie culture,” but only 29% of Gen Z said the same. On the other end, completely disinterested, 26% of Gen Z chose “I’m not a foodie and I don’t pay attention to foodie culture,” compared to only 16% of Millennials who say the same.
When YPulse asked what food means to them (in a list of 10 options), both gens are most likely describe food as something they look forward to, but Millennials are more united in that answer: 51% of Millennials say so, versus 40% of Gen Z. Gen Z were also significantly less likely to name food as a passion or a hobby. They’re just not making it a personality trait the way they’ve seen Millennials do—in fact, 64% of Gen Z who call themselves foodies agree that being a foodie is not that serious, and even more (85%) agree you can be one without posting about it.
For Millennials, social media is a main part of being a foodie, hence their “phone eats first” mentality. This spurred the boom of “Instagrammable” food and restaurants (think garden walls and clever neon signs) trying to win the favor of the more aesthetic interested Millennial foodies. These same efforts aren’t as likely to win Gen Z, though, as far less are making content of their food. So, while 57% of Gen Z have posted a photo or video of food / a beverage on social media, it pales in comparison to the 71% of Millennials who have. Naturally, Millennials are more likely to have posted nearly every kind of food content from home cooked meals to a pic taking a bite.
When YPulse asked young people who haven’t posted any food content why they haven’t, Gen Z largely agreed it’s because they just want to eat. For them, food is not about telling everyone where they’ve been and how amazing it tasted, but being in the moment. And, more than a quarter said it’s because they find it cringey—Gen Z are just not seeing the draw in posing and filtering their food the way Millennials do.
It makes sense then, that Gen Z are also less likely to enjoy seeing other people’s food content: only 38% of Gen Z say they like / love it when someone posts photos of something they’re eating or drinking on social media, versus nearly half of Millennials. Millennials are significantly more interested in seeing food content overall, except in the way of a few niche food content categories Gen Z is fueling. On TikTok, Gen Z’s go-to social media platform, trends like “what I eat in a day” and oddly satisfying content are more likely to catch their attention than Millennial-favored meal prep and restaurant reviews.
Though a majority (60%) of Gen Z consider themselves adventurous eaters, far more Millennials say so at 80%. The older gen is more likely to describe the food they eat as “exotic” and “gourmet,” where Gen Z prefers traits like “fun” and “basic.” But basic is not a bad thing; YPulse data shows the majority of Gen Z are choosing fast food or fast casual dining when they go out to eat, and not just because of the price. In fact, their top reason for picking fast food is because they like the food. So when restaurants want to impress Gen Z, it’s time to ditch the complicated plating and go back to the delicious basics.
Gen Z does, however, have an interest in trying fine dining restaurants, and would go if price didn’t matter, showing that they do have interest in more high-end experiences. But, more than one third also say they would still choose to eat out at fast food restaurants if price were not a factor. YPulse recently told you that with inflation continuing to impact young people, and a potential recession on their mind, dining out would be the first thing cut from their budget if it came down to it. But, fast food restaurants can likely anticipate young people remaining customers even if they need to scale back, because the quality for price will meet all the young consumers’ needs, and provide the familiar basics they’re looking for anyway.