Don't mess with millennials' avocado toast: The internet fires back at a millionaire

Avocado toast is a pricey brunch item that millennials are often willing to spend money on.
Avocado toast is a pricey brunch item that millennials are often willing to spend money on. PHOTO: GORAN KOSANOVIC FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - They may have graduated during the Great Recession with poor job prospects and outrageous student loans, but that does not matter. There is one explanation for why millennials have been slow to buy homes: avocado toast.

At least that is what Australian millionaire and property mogul Tim Gurner told his country's "60 Minutes," in comments that are being widely mocked around the internet."When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn't buying smashed avocado for A$19 (S$19.70) and four coffees at A$4 each," Gurner said.

Now, avocado toast has come to mean many things. For some people, the trendy-in-2014 brunch staple is ambrosia, the food of the gods. It inspires rhapsodic recipes, and slide shows of what avocado toast looks like around the world (Answer: Like avocado, on toast). To other people, avocado toast is everything that is wrong with our Instagram-obsessed society, and according to one BuzzFeed writer, it "tastes like butt." It usually costs less than A$19, but considering it takes next-to-no skill to make, it could be considered an affordable luxury - like any other brunch item.

It is true that the price of avocados is rising quickly. But regardless of which side of the great avocado toast divide you fall on, we should all be able to agree on one thing: Gurner's hot take on both food and finances is garbage.

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It is not the first time that a trendy food has been invoked as an attention-grabbing, but flawed, financial strategy. In the early Aughts, as Starbucks was expanding at light speed, lattes were the reason that Americans were penniless failures. One personal finance guru, David Bach, even built an entire brand around it: You can use his Latte Factor calculator to see how much money you could save if only you could forgo the daily coffee habit.

Except: "There was only one thing wrong with the latte factor. It wasn't true. It didn't work mathematically," wrote Slate's Helaine Olen in an article a year ago: "Collectively, they fed into the American streak of can-do-ism, our Calvinist sense that money comes to those who have earned it and treated it with respect. A penny saved is a penny earned, after all," she wrote.

Lattes are not very cool anymore - everyone is drinking cold brew these days. So it looks like the financial world needed a new culinary scapegoat (why could it not have been Unicorn Frappuccinos, instead?).

But avocado toast-as-financial-hindrance is not even original. An Australian columnist made the same parallel in an October 2016 column, writing: "I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at A$22 a pop and more. I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family. But how can young people afford to eat like this? Shouldn't they be economising by eating at home? How often are they eating out? Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house." (Man, they must really hate millennials and avocados in Australia.) So, eat that avocado toast, millennials, and enjoy it. Because, let us face it: you are never going to be able to buy a house anyway.