When I was younger, one of my favorite things to do was tell my little brother that, if he ate just one of the Luna Bars on the top shelf of our pantry, he would almost certainly turn into a girl.
My reasons for this were not intentionally nefarious. Refined sugar was a rarity in my family’s household, and, because of this, I felt compelled to hoard any sweets in the house–however lame they might be–for myself, using whatever methods I saw fit to do so. Besides, the Luna Bars almost made it too easy for me–right on the label, it said it was a nutrition bar for women. I read this aloud to my brother, and told him that I was going to be a woman one day, in theory, but, unless Michael wanted to turn into a girl against his will, he had better steer clear of them.
It worked. He stayed away from Luna Bars, and I got them all for myself. And what do I have to thank for this? The heteronormative gendering of food products, of course!
(Heteronormative gendering of food products)
Now, if you have ever taken a Women’s and Gender Studies class of any sort (which I have) (which I am also, as someone with a degree from a prestigious-ish-but-not-Ivy-League liberal arts university, contractually obligated to mention in writing at least once a week), you will know that food, as, like, a blanket item, already tends to be fairly gendered. Heavy, protein-stuffed foods (think hamburgers, chicken wings, chili fries) are traditionally thought of as masculine, while lighter, sweeter fare (like salads, smoothies, and chocolate) is considered feminine.
Food companies use these gender biases in their marketing–some subtly, others, uh, not so much–so, if you start comparing the advertisements that run during a football game with the ones that run during, say, The Bachelor, chances are good that you’ll notice some pretty big differences. So, in many ways, blatantly gendered foods are simply doubling down on a tried-and-true advertising tactic at the risk that some of their messaging may be lost in the event that their audience has to imply anything, rather than having it told to them.
Still, it’s an aggravating–and, if you think about it, fairly nonsensical–tactic overall. The messaging used to get the ideas across tend to exclude anyone with a non-binary gender identity. And, of course, nothing will happen to a human woman who one day opts for a “powerful” Greek yogurt instead of her usual Chobani, just as nothing will actually happen to a man who decides to grab a Luna Bar. (They are really good, for what it’s worth.)
Basically? All food is gendered. Some are just better at hiding it than others. So, check out these unnecessarily gendered food products that, uh, didn’t hide their intentions very well:
1. This intimidating lineup of male-exclusive “powerful” yogurt:
2. This sexy, studly gluten bomb:
this week in unnecessarily gendered products pic.twitter.com/miWpEOXL16
— bluebell? (@glumpeach) August 1, 2015
3. These, uh, cute marshmallow snacks:
4. This Pocky for men (????):
today in unnecessarily gendered products pic.twitter.com/Rt0FKMIVvg
— Michael Shillingburg (@heyshilly) February 12, 2017
5. Soup for princesses (girls) and firefighters (boys). Well, at least one of those is a viable career option!
6. These Goldfish for that special person in your life who identifies as either a crown or a pair of sunglasses:
7. Boy sprinkles and girl sprinkles, apparently:
unnecessarily gendered products: chocolate sprinkles pic.twitter.com/siUm0OHV1h
— larry (@sophikatt) February 14, 2017
8. Gendered steak?????
unnecessarily gendered food 2k15 pic.twitter.com/8xxz5A7Iyl
— sweet clown (@lilphobby) April 26, 2015
9. This cake for a cupcake (?) or a stud muffin (?????????), because there is nothing that straight people love more than sexualizing babies that literally have not even been born!
10. Here is some milk for, uh, “extreme” dudes. NOT girls!!!!
11. This dog food. For a male dog only, ok??
— walt whitman's muse (@mattxhunt) October 5, 2016
12. A bro…nut…….. (I’m so tired):
13. So, so tired:
Question: Why the HELL is this FOOD GENDERED?? TRAIL MIX!! pic.twitter.com/Ya1J7abOsS
— Might be Evan (@defnotevan) February 26, 2016
14. *shrieks into the void*
15. The “Lady” Parma:
— Adam Collins (@collinsadam) March 29, 2016
16. Are men…not washing their hands to the point in which they literally have to be told through a “how to stay manly in the kitchen” tip?
— Richie White (@therichiewhite) January 18, 2016
17. There’s…a lot to unpack here. Here’s some digestion assistance!
What do you think of these products? Which one *must* you have in your life, provided that you are the gender for which it was intended? Let us know in the comments!