Have you heard about "girl dinners?"
The New York Times describes it this way:
"It’s 90 degrees outside, and you’re too hot and exhausted from a long day of work to cobble together a proper meal. Luckily you’re home by yourself — no kids, no roommates, no partners — and therefore can eat whatever you want for dinner, without having to consider the food preferences or nutrition needs of others. You grab a bag of popcorn, a glass of wine, some bread, some cheese and a hunk of chocolate, and settle into the couch for a night of snacking and watching TV. Is there anything more glorious? Welcome to 'girl dinner.'
"According to TikTok, where the trend has more than 30 million views, girl dinner is akin to an aesthetically pleasing Lunchable: an artfully arranged pile of snacks that, when consumed in high enough volume, constitutes a meal. Or so the thinking goes.
"Typical girl dinners may include some kind of fruit, a block of cheddar, sliced salami, a sleeve of fancy crackers and a dish of olives. Girl dinner is 'both chaotic and filling,' as one TikTok commenter put it, requiring none of the forethought, cooking or plating demanded by an actual meal. As another commenter observed: It’s 'no preparation just vibes'."
And if there is such a thing as the "girl dinner," naturally there has to be an opposite number. GQ describes it as the "husband meal:"
"Husband Meal, the go-to dinner a man eats when his spouse or significant other is away and he’s home alone, is not this. You’re never going to see a photograph of it on your feeds. In fact, Husband Meal is about as spiritually removed from Girl Dinner as you can get."
Examples include "a grocery store rotisserie chicken over the sink" or "wings, or enough Chinese food that they put in two to three place settings.”
"To be clear, Husband Meal is not the result of a helpless, 1950s-era man left to his own devices," GQ writes. "It’s 2023: men know how to cook and regularly do so at home. They care about restaurants. They still watch Top Chef and have opinions on single origin spices. By the time they’ve reached their 30s and 40s, they’ve had to develop taste in all aspects of their lives … Husband Meal is, essentially, a culinary expression of the shadow self. It’s the result of having to feed yourself without taking your significant other's preferences into account. Often it’s not merely incidental, but planned and anticipated with relish. At the same time, it’s usually not going to require a ton of effort or precise plating. After all, you’re the only one seeing it. And if nobody’s watching you eat it, well, however sloppy you get is between you and God."
- KC's View:
Let's start with one observation: It is not entirely clear to me why in this equation females are described as "girls" and males are described as "husbands." Is this meant to diminish females by not describing them as "women?" On the other hand, "husband" implies a person who is in a relationship, which "girl" does not - so maybe in this construct men are simply being seen as accessories, not independent.
But I digress.
There's part of me that thinks this is all kind of silly. But, upon consideration, they may be onto something. When I'm traveling, Mrs. Content Guy takes a minimalist approach to meals - there's nothing she likes better than just eating a couple of artichokes, or maybe a spinach salad. On those rare evenings when I'm home alone at dinnertime, I go in the opposite direction. Maybe I'll make a nice seafood risotto, or pasta al tonno. (I lean toward both seafood and pasta dishes when I am cooking for myself, but would never even consider chicken eaten over the sink or Chinese food.). And there's always wine.
But, that said, I wonder how many supermarkets around the country are taking advantage of this moment to market "girl dinners" and "husband meals" to their shoppers. They can change the appellation, of course, and maybe go with "women dinners" and "man meals."
But creating sections that target these specific meal occasions and people might be a really smart thing to do. Maybe rotate selections every couple of days. The offerings would have to be marketed and promoted, of course, but this is a moment in which retailers can build on a cultural trend that clearly is taking place, and try to generate sales while establishing relevance.
Let's be clear. This is a moment, and it may only be a moment. The opportunity could pass quickly. But a nuanced and relevant approach to marketing should be made up of many moments, and retailers ought to be opportunistic about finding and using them.