Tara's Food Notebook

Gen X: We’re Still Here

“Looks like somebody forgot about us
Standin on the corner waitin for a bus…”

If you recognize that as a line from a Violent Femmes song, you might be in Generation X. If you listened to those words at Lollapalooza in 1991 while wearing a flannel shirt, Daisy Dukes and Doc Martens, you might be a GenXer. If you took your fashion cues from Cher Horowitz, if you had the Reality Bites soundtrack on a cassette tape, know where you were when Kurt Cobain died and can remember the times before texting…you’re in my generation.

As cool as we are, it seems like no one cares. Not marketers and consumer researchers, anyway. They’re totally obsessed with Generation Y, a.k.a. the millennials. Guess what—breaking news—millennials like to customize menu items. And they like transparency in brands and corporations. Oh, and get this: They like sustainability.

So what does that mean about us, about Generation X? That we just want the grossest possible processed foods from the sketchiest big corporation around that’s actively destroying the planet? Sheesh!

We’re working jobs, raising kids and spending money. But we’re “so often missing from stories about demographic, social and political change,” according to an article at pewresearch.org, which describes Generation X as America’s neglected “middle child,” bookended as we are between two much larger generations. We just don’t have the numbers. Millennials (ages 15 to 34) are 84 million strong, and there are 77 million baby boomers. Gen X (ages 35 to 49) only accounts for about 66 million.

Recently Nation’s Restaurant News writers Bret Thorn and Nancy Kruse addressed the elephant in the room where dining out is concerned: Are Restaurants Ignoring Generation X?

Maybe there’s more to it. When it comes to being marketed to, Gen X is cynical. “Our parents’ generation seems neither able nor interested in understanding how marketers exploit them. They take shopping at face value,” wrote Douglas Coupland in “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.”

I’m not really ranting and raving here, by the way, just observing. Just saying, “Hey, um…we’re still here…well, OK, whatever...”

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