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Does the phrase "yuppie food" mean anything to you?

FoodPopulist Feb 23, 2012 12:03 AM

There's a joke that "yuppie food stamps" are defined as $20 bills dispensed by an ATM.

If I were a food writer, one of my ideas for a book would be one bashing yuppie food and using it as a lens for a much wider criticism of culture. Which is probably self-defeating because people who eat yuppie food are the most likely to buy books in that genre.

So, what does the phrase "yuppie food" mean to you? I might use it refer to food that I believe is over-priced because of an excessive demand for superficial trendiness. Is this a good definition? A bad one? Should we be using the term more often to label the kind of food I criticize?

Does anyone want to stand up for yuppies and their food?

  1. h
    Harters Feb 25, 2012 05:56 AM


    I don't do 1980s so, no, it means nothing to me.

    1. HillJ Feb 25, 2012 05:02 AM

      I really couldn't criticize the food or eating habits of any age group without including myself. Funny, how the tendency leans towards it being about the other guy/girl and not ourselves. Gosh, I've always spent $$$ on food at every age with tremendous passionn and glee...yes, even yuppie labeled food. So what's the point? First time I read yuppie food stamps was in a coffee table book sold @ Urban Outfitters. I couldn't honestly bash any food "culture" because I've enjoyed them.

      1. goodhealthgourmet Feb 24, 2012 07:01 PM

        i feel compelled to chime in here with a note about semantics (let the eye rolling commence). the term "Yuppie food stamps" doesn't have quite the same meaning/usage as it's been given in this thread. it doesn't mean that $20 bills are the currency used to buy "Yuppie food," it means that they're what Yuppies use to buy food. *any* food. the difference is subtle, but it's there.

        and yes, i understand that one could then go on to say that Yuppies might use said "food stamps" to purchase a characteristic/stereotypical range of foods popular among or common to Yuppies...i just thought i'd point out that this particular slang really wasn't intended as a food phrase, rather as a socioeconomic observation.

        and to answer your original question, i'm going to agree that sushi was/is the original and ultimate Yuppie food, and if we're including beverages, add Perrier and Starbucks coffee to the list. though as Chinon00 pointed out, it's not so much about the food itself as it is conspicuous consumption - eating something expensive (or exclusive) because of its price or cachet, not because of how it tastes.

        1. RUK Feb 24, 2012 11:36 AM

          Around here in NJ, "Yuppy food" meant Fusion Cuisine, smaller portions for more money ( having your waistline in mind of course) stuff drizzled tastefully over said small, just so arranged portions and Ottmar Liebert recordings playing in the background. At least that is how I saw it in the nineties.....

          1. MGZ Feb 24, 2012 06:52 AM

            Somehow, reading about the launch of the "Skinnygirl" wines reminded me of this thread. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-orlin/skinnygirl-wines-bad-idea_b_1293582.html?ref=food

            Also, this other thread from our own site seems to dovetail nicely:

            Edit: Well, it seems much of the related content on the linked Chowhound thread has been excised.

            1. g
              gembellina Feb 24, 2012 06:21 AM

              Agree with everyone who has pointed out that yuppie is waaay out of date. To me, yuppie food in the 80s would have been nouvelle cuisine, Patrick Bateman convincing an ill-fated girl that one trendy restaurant was another, trendier, restaurant, and no way to tell the difference because the food wasn't the point.

              Conspicuous consumption was the critical point, and restaurants might have boasted that a particular luxury item had been flown in from the other side of the world on a private jet just that morning. Nowadays I'd say the reverse is true, that those who like to show off about food will boast about how local and sustainable something is, which is of course a good thing unless it's used as a put-down to people who can't afford to eat that way.

              Not that there isn't still a scene of conspicuous consumption, a la Kardashians/Made in Essex etc, but of course they're missing the "p" from yuppy.

              1. babette feasts Feb 23, 2012 08:39 PM

                Wasn't 'upwardly mobile' a key element of being a yuppie? Is anyone upwardly mobile these days?

                Hipsters do not need to be professionals or even have jobs, they just need to be cooler than you.

                3 Replies
                1. re: babette feasts
                  emmekin Feb 23, 2012 09:08 PM

                  Like I said earlier, the modern "yuppie" (at least in my very urban chic neighborhood/area) is an amalgamation of the two...both upwardly mobile/sucessful AND cooler than you.
                  Perhaps our OP should research in Portland or Austin or Ithaca... heheh

                  1. re: emmekin
                    wyogal Feb 24, 2012 05:13 AM

                    Key word, research.

                  2. re: babette feasts
                    sueatmo Feb 24, 2012 06:00 PM

                    Hey--great definition!

                  3. w
                    wyogal Feb 23, 2012 06:11 PM

                    condos for sale.......

                    1. r
                      ratgirlagogo Feb 23, 2012 05:59 PM

                      Definitely a dated term - in the present economy it would have to be an aspirational term, if anything. The 80's economy collapsed on itself. "Yuppie" is also an oddity in that unlike "hippie" and "hipster" it was not a word that was ever used in a positive or neutral way. People did and do describe themselves as being hippies or hipsters, even though others may dislike hippies or hipsters. Nobody but nobody, on the other hand, EVER called themselves a yuppie. It was always intended as an insulting, abusive term.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ratgirlagogo
                        meatn3 Feb 23, 2012 09:58 PM

                        Very good - The only person I ever came across who used the term in a semi-positive way was a real estate agent who was trying to flatter my SO and myself towards looking at homes near a golf course. We were appalled and realized that she had not heard a word we had said when discussing what we were looking for - acreage within commuting range or a city bungalow fixer-upper. Golf course mini mansion was not of interest...

                        The phrase has always seemed to be the first media generated tag designed to create a buzz about a group which was more of a demographic designation than an actual movement.

                      2. dave_c Feb 23, 2012 04:57 PM

                        Yuppie is out-of-date. It has no real meaning.

                        In 2012, the pendulum has swung the other way and the current in-thing is being a "hipster".

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: dave_c
                          sueatmo Feb 23, 2012 05:34 PM

                          And, a "hipster" does not have to be a young, urban professional, right? I'm asking how you view the term, because it isn't as clear to me as "yuppie."

                          1. re: sueatmo
                            dave_c Feb 24, 2012 09:03 AM

                            Hipsters are generally young, in their 20's, have smart phones, may work, wear plaid shirts, jeans or second hand clothing.

                            I remember during the yuppie era. Clothing was dressy. It was common to see women in business attire wearing Reeboks. Yuppies dressed up and went clubbing.

                            Hipster food - energy drinks, cheap beer (usually PBR) and taco trucks.

                            Yuppie food - ???

                            1. re: dave_c
                              huiray Feb 24, 2012 09:08 AM

                              Hmm. To me, "hipster" has a whiff of pretentious wannabe cooldom-seeking-holier-than-thou odors. Oh, I'm sure there are folks who would strenuously dispute my impressions.

                        2. a
                          AdamD Feb 23, 2012 11:34 AM

                          80s restaurants where being at the restaurant was more important than the food and every plate was finished/garnished with something that came out of a squirt bottle.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: AdamD
                            FoodPopulist Feb 23, 2012 01:35 PM

                            With the rise of celebrity chefs, I can see where you're eating rising in importance relative to what you're eating.

                          2. i
                            Isolda Feb 23, 2012 08:30 AM

                            It says the person using the term is probably not very interested in food as a hobby.

                            1. twyst Feb 23, 2012 07:59 AM

                              Hipster food would be a more current topic.

                              1. t
                                travelmad478 Feb 23, 2012 07:48 AM

                                Quiche. And yes, served in a fern bar.

                                1. s
                                  sueatmo Feb 23, 2012 07:47 AM

                                  I basically agree with the other posters. I remember the term yuppie, which was usually, but perhaps not always, a derogatory term.

                                  Boomers have aged, and are now in the position of being the elders of our culture. Our tastes probably are irrelevant to almost everyone, except for ourselves. I am not sure how "yuppie food" would be an insightful term for a lens through which to view popular culture. One thing the age of boomers did, was to tip the culture balance toward youth, and there it stands today. Gen Y is probably the cultural driver now, with some assist from the older Gen X.

                                  In terms of food loved by yuppies, the earlier posters mentioned fern bars. I would mention the influence of Alice Waters and others like her. They had/have influence. Deborah Madison had/has influence on vegetarians. I do think that the emphasis on natural and/or humanely raised foods comes from a larger movement initiated by Boomers, but not necessarily yuppie Boomers.

                                  Perhaps Yuppies influenced the proliferation of local micro breweries and wineries, at least as avid consumers?

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: sueatmo
                                    HDinCentralME Feb 23, 2012 07:56 AM

                                    Aside from the artists/bohemian true urban pioneers, Young Urban Professionals (before Yuppie became a perjorative term) were also at the forefront of "gentrification" of decayed/dying urban neighborhoods. New restaurants, many of which were of the New American/Local sourced variety, were part of this trend.

                                    1. re: HDinCentralME
                                      huiray Feb 23, 2012 09:56 AM

                                      TY to sueatmo & HD.
                                      I don't think the term "yuppie" is not meaningful nowadays. Not at all. As for those to whom the term is meaningless, your youth is showing. ;-)

                                      1. re: huiray
                                        sueatmo Feb 23, 2012 05:33 PM

                                        to huiray: I am pretty old, and I do know what the term Yuppie signifies. I doubt that Gen X or Gen Y have as clear a picture. I do think the term is dated.

                                        1. re: sueatmo
                                          huiray Feb 23, 2012 05:47 PM

                                          I know you did; and I believe I knew before now that you had some years behind you. Yes, the term may be dated but it still has meaning. I thanked you for not dismissing it out of hand as others seem to, but instead discussing briefly some of the context in which the term has meaning. :-)

                                          1. re: sueatmo
                                            Chinon00 Feb 23, 2012 06:34 PM

                                            " I doubt that Gen X or Gen Y have as clear a picture."

                                            Gen X-ers better have a clearer picture, we all were in high school and college during the 80s;]

                                            1. re: Chinon00
                                              MGZ Feb 24, 2012 05:06 AM

                                              Agreed. Gen X arguably had the best vantage point of all, including a chance to aspire to yuppiedom or wear flannel and move away from it. That's sort of the point many in this thread seem to be missing. Yuppie is a stale term, but some of the foul practices they embraced that fueled the pejorative have found a home in the hearts of people today. Elevating style over substance is never a good ethic.

                                              1. re: MGZ
                                                Chinon00 Feb 24, 2012 06:31 AM

                                                I agree that "style over substance" will always exist and that some people living as "yuppies" exist today. However the particular way that yuppies express(ed) this isn't culturally relevant today as it was then. Think of how Donald Trump presents himself. He's anachronistic.

                                              2. re: Chinon00
                                                sueatmo Feb 24, 2012 06:02 PM

                                                Ah--of course.

                                          2. re: HDinCentralME
                                            Chinon00 Feb 23, 2012 10:28 AM

                                            See I really disagree w/ your gentrification point. It's my inderstanding that FIRST artists moved into depressed areas of cities and that their presence provided an "urban chic" to the area which then attracted developers who sold apartments, etc in these areas at high prices to those who can afford them (yuppies). Also as I stated above "yuppie" carries a particularly 80s decadent resonance w/ me. For example the food for them wasn't mostly about the pleasure of it but about announcing how much you spent and that you got into some exclusive place.

                                            1. re: Chinon00
                                              HDinCentralME Feb 23, 2012 01:01 PM

                                              I agree (and said above) that the artists came first. This is a dynamic that continues (even here in Maine where some beautiful old, abandoned mills are being repurposed).

                                              But Young Urban Professionals was first a demographic term to denote those who eschewed the suburban/"white flight" lifestyle of their parents. Living in "the city" was cool again.

                                              It then became the perjorative term with the meaning you assign to it.

                                              1. re: Chinon00
                                                HillJ Feb 25, 2012 04:54 AM

                                                The one and only Jerry Brown comes to mind here. I wonder what he considers yuppie food now?

                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                  wyogal Feb 25, 2012 05:58 AM


                                          3. Chinon00 Feb 23, 2012 07:44 AM

                                            IIRC the term YUP-pie (young urban professional) started during the 80s and was meant to describe a person who embraced or pursued the excesses which defined much of that time. So sure cocaine and Armani suits and $500 lunches were mainstream themes and images during that time (SEE Bret Easton Ellis). There is no mainstream equivalent of that today.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Chinon00
                                              Savour Feb 23, 2012 10:32 AM

                                              Hipster, perhaps? Or my favorite neologism, "yupster". Of course, yupster food culture is pretty much indistinguishable from a lot of restaurant culture, and is probably distinguished by the buzzwords "local, sustainable, farm-to-table."

                                              1. re: Savour
                                                Chinon00 Feb 23, 2012 11:23 AM

                                                A hipster I think values knowing more than you whereas a yuppie valued having more than you.

                                                1. re: Chinon00
                                                  emmekin Feb 23, 2012 11:37 AM

                                                  And a yupster is someone who values (and feels they are/have) both!

                                                2. re: Savour
                                                  wyogal Feb 23, 2012 06:07 PM

                                                  Personally, I like the term, hippie-yuppie-cowboy. We have them here in the west.

                                              2. carolinadawg Feb 23, 2012 07:18 AM

                                                Not only does the phrase "yuppie food" not mean anything to me, the term "yuppie" doesn't mean anything to me.

                                                1. w
                                                  wyogal Feb 23, 2012 06:15 AM

                                                  Yuppie food is what they are serving at "the home" these days.... hahaha! Yuppies are aging. Yes, an outdated term.
                                                  and kind of a mean and negative premise for a book. As a food writer, I would dwell on other aspects than just "bashing."
                                                  I would rather see artwork, or some other expression of one's attitude towards the subject matter rather than just a bi*#@ session about the culture.

                                                  1. MGZ Feb 23, 2012 02:11 AM

                                                    I agree with Tripeler that "yuppie" is a pretty stale term. Is that the point? Use an archaic phase to employ a bit of irony? Or are you seriously going to make fun of the trendy, urban foods of the 1980s? Back then sushi would have been the clear synonym for "yuppie food."

                                                    Personally, I say leave the food alone. If you'd like to satirize, criticize, or otherwise comment on or bitch about certain members of, or trends in, society then just do so. If you intend to use a particular food item or two in metaphorical ways, that's fine too. Hell, I'm even ok with you questioning whether the fiction of "supply and demand" truly exists. But, for the sake of a few of us old 'hounds, don't pick on the food.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: MGZ
                                                      Karl S Feb 23, 2012 05:38 AM


                                                      "Yuppie" now is as antiquated a term as "Flapper" was when I was in high school in the late 1970s.

                                                    2. Tripeler Feb 23, 2012 12:51 AM

                                                      Anything to do with Yuppies seems so late 20th century to me. For some reason, I don't think it is contemporary term any more.

                                                      35 Replies
                                                      1. re: Tripeler
                                                        small h Feb 23, 2012 07:03 AM

                                                        Yuppie food is served at fern bars. Do fern bars still exist?

                                                        1. re: small h
                                                          Karl S Feb 23, 2012 07:07 AM

                                                          Fern bars are a decade older than yuppies, IIRC.

                                                          1. re: Karl S
                                                            small h Feb 23, 2012 07:14 AM

                                                            I thought the terms were used during the same era, but I could be misremembering. It's high time for someone to open a retro fern bar. I'd go. I like ferns.

                                                            1. re: small h
                                                              MGZ Feb 23, 2012 07:20 AM

                                                              Yeah, I'd probably go too. I have a madras plaid blazer I bought in '86 that I haven't had an excuse to wear in twenty-odd years.

                                                              1. re: MGZ
                                                                wyogal Feb 23, 2012 07:22 AM

                                                                and order a Lemon Drop

                                                                1. re: wyogal
                                                                  small h Feb 23, 2012 07:35 AM

                                                                  And sing along to "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me."

                                                                2. re: MGZ
                                                                  huiray Feb 23, 2012 09:51 AM

                                                                  It still fits?

                                                                  1. re: huiray
                                                                    MGZ Feb 23, 2012 10:17 AM

                                                                    Yep (though there were a couple years where it probably wouldn't have). That's the only reason I'd be willing to wear it out in public.

                                                          2. re: Tripeler
                                                            HillJ Feb 24, 2012 07:39 AM

                                                            Because Yuppies, once Hippies, are now Boomers! And Boomers with $$$ for great eats don't care one bit about what others write, think or do about them. 21st Century I earned it-dom. God help me, I know first hand :)

                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                              wyogal Feb 24, 2012 10:26 AM

                                                              read upthread or maybe downthread.... Boomers have nothing to do with lifestyle, it's about the baby boom that happened after WWII and Korea, when the soldiers came home.

                                                              1. re: wyogal
                                                                HillJ Feb 24, 2012 10:28 AM

                                                                Oh I so respectfully disagree. Have you read AARP and lifestyle mags directed at baby boomers? They come to my house (ha!). It's a much about lifestyle as any yuppie/hippie LABEL is.

                                                                1. re: HillJ
                                                                  wyogal Feb 24, 2012 10:32 AM

                                                                  and I respectfully disagree. It's simply about the baby boom. If folks in that age want to aspire to be pretentious, then they can have the other labels, too.
                                                                  And no, I don't read AARP, it is a political, money making organization, and I disagree with some of their views.
                                                                  (kinda like rectangles and squares, not all rectangles are squares)

                                                                  1. re: wyogal
                                                                    huiray Feb 24, 2012 10:53 AM

                                                                    wyogal, you seem to be very young. Why are you so dismissive of folks older than you?

                                                                    1. re: huiray
                                                                      wyogal Feb 24, 2012 10:56 AM

                                                                      hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! I am a grandmother. And I'm not dismissive of folks older than me at all. I just disagree with the use of the term boomer to equate with a lifestyle. I AM a boomer.

                                                                      1. re: wyogal
                                                                        HillJ Feb 24, 2012 11:00 AM

                                                                        wyogal, I knew that already. But I'm delighted we can disagree and still laugh!

                                                                        Considering the amount of mail and sales pitches I receive the boomer lifestyle is not my imagination : http://www.hartman-group.com/hartbeat...

                                                                        1. re: HillJ
                                                                          wyogal Feb 24, 2012 11:01 AM


                                                                        2. re: wyogal
                                                                          huiray Feb 24, 2012 11:00 AM

                                                                          I see!! Then maybe there is something about "wanting to be young", which appears to be a fault (IMO) of the Murcan Experience. Maybe not you specifically. ;-)

                                                                          1. re: huiray
                                                                            wyogal Feb 24, 2012 11:03 AM

                                                                            No, thank-you. I am very happy with my age and wouldn't go back for anything. I am not striving to be young.

                                                                    2. re: HillJ
                                                                      Chinon00 Feb 24, 2012 10:47 AM

                                                                      "Boomer" is much more of a generational term. It defines for example young people who protested and well those who fought in Vietnam. Politically they were diametrically opposed to one another but are all boomers.
                                                                      It's a very broad term that defines no particular lifestyle, other than retirement;]

                                                                      1. re: Chinon00
                                                                        HillJ Feb 24, 2012 10:56 AM

                                                                        Oh this is funny. Well my dears I am a boomer so I'll keep my version to myself. But I'll say this much, from hippie to yuppie to bommer describes just about all of the people in my world and we love it.

                                                                        1. re: HillJ
                                                                          Chinon00 Feb 24, 2012 10:59 AM

                                                                          How are your boomer friends different from your yuppie friends?


                                                                          What makes you a boomer today but not a boomer say 30 years ago?

                                                                          1. re: HillJ
                                                                            Jay F Feb 24, 2012 02:38 PM

                                                                            HillJ: <<from hippie to yuppie to bommer describes just about all of the people in my world>>

                                                                            I was a boomer even when I was a hippie, and also when I was a yuppie. I'm still a boomer, though I am no longer either of the other things.

                                                                            As for "yuppie food," if I were planning a yuppie/80s party, I'd use Martha Stewart's ENTERTAINING (1982) as my menu planning guide, decorating my trays with flowers (making sure none is toxic).

                                                                    3. re: HillJ
                                                                      sueatmo Feb 24, 2012 05:57 PM

                                                                      The Baby Boomers existed long before hippies. Boomers are a generation, as are Gen X or Gen Y. Birth dates 1946 - 1960, although some dispute the last date.

                                                                      Protesters were not all as young as boomers. I am sure that all hippies were not as young as boomers, either. However as I understand it, Yuppies would most likely have been boomers; but most boomers were not yuppies. In other words, yuppies do not equate to boomers.

                                                                      1. re: sueatmo
                                                                        HillJ Feb 24, 2012 06:45 PM

                                                                        ROFL you would be what the fifth person to take the time to educate me. Am I suppose to pick a generation? What I'm trying to say is I've been a "term" hippie in the 60's, a yuppie thru the 80's and 90's and came out a happy baby boomer today. Ha!

                                                                        1. re: HillJ
                                                                          HillJ Feb 24, 2012 06:50 PM

                                                                          back on topic tho, yuppie food meant coffee was enjoyed at a cafe; not in the kitchen. The word gourmet was seen everywhere. Whole Foods and Trader Joe's opened for the first time in my area and specialty shops became the new grocery market. Being spotted at any of these places frequently placed you in yup food dom.

                                                                          1. re: HillJ
                                                                            Chinon00 Feb 24, 2012 07:48 PM

                                                                            I'll try one last time. Everyone of your generation is a boomer. Not all boomers however were hippies. Not all boomers were yuppies either. My uncle born in '47 was a black militant during the 60s (not a hippie) and an inner city school teacher during the 70s and 80s (so he couldn't afford to be a yuppie).
                                                                            Hippies, Yuppies, Black Panthers, Vietnam Vets are subgroups of the boomer generation. So you could have been a hippie then a yuppie but all the time you were a boomer.

                                                                            1. re: Chinon00
                                                                              HillJ Feb 25, 2012 04:23 AM

                                                                              So you could have been a hippie then a yuppie but all the time you were a boomer.


                                                                              Ding, ding, ding! The only difference in my (clearly hard head with all the corrections from my dear CH friends here) preference is to think of it as (finally) arriving at the baby boomer age. I know what you are all saying and referring to and it's HillJ giving you a very hard time...but thank you Chinon00.

                                                                              Yes, what you have taken the time to write out is how I understand it but not how I prefer to refer to my age group. That is what I meant.

                                                                              1. re: HillJ
                                                                                wyogal Feb 25, 2012 05:57 AM

                                                                                (psst.... boomers were boomers the moment they were born)

                                                                                1. re: wyogal
                                                                                  HillJ Feb 25, 2012 06:12 AM

                                                                                  wyogal, let me be :)

                                                                                  1. re: HillJ
                                                                                    wyogal Feb 25, 2012 06:13 AM

                                                                                    let it be, let it be, let it be..... oh wait, got caught up in my boomer music.... haha!

                                                                                    1. re: wyogal
                                                                                      HillJ Feb 25, 2012 06:14 AM

                                                                                      touche! now that's more like it!

                                                                                      1. re: HillJ
                                                                                        wyogal Feb 25, 2012 06:15 AM

                                                                                        I think I need some coffee..................... or should I make capuccinno? Now, would that be the yuppie in me? ha! I think I'll go for coffee, with foam.

                                                                                        1. re: wyogal
                                                                                          wyogal Feb 25, 2012 06:23 AM

                                                                                          but wait, I'm not young, and certainly not upwardly mobile (I quit a job several years ago, destroyed my retirement$, and am lucky to bring home half of what I was making before, but am happy..... is that the hippie in me?)
                                                                                          I decided on the cappuccino. (and looked up how to spell it on google, is that the nerd in me?)

                                                                                          1. re: wyogal
                                                                                            HillJ Feb 25, 2012 06:35 AM

                                                                                            Sounds like all of you! Hence the multi generational mind speak.

                                                                                            1. re: HillJ
                                                                                              wyogal Feb 25, 2012 06:38 AM


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