Forget chicken sandwiches, Summer 2019 will forever go down as White Claw Summer. CNN reports that hard seltzer sales are now the highest they’ve ever been, thanks to a growing demographic of drinkers who want a low-calorie, low-sugar alternative to beers and traditional flavored malt beverages. According to the market research firm, Nielsen, White Claw sales account for over half of the total sales of hard seltzers and it was the top growth brand over the weekend of Fourth of July — a pivotal time in the alcohol market.
Currently, because demand is too high for the brand to meet, White Claw has limited their supply so that they can continue to serve all of their markets through a distribution method known as allocation. Rather than juice one region and leave others bare, very limited supplies of White Claw hit store shelves, sell out, and are restocked by the next scheduled shipment. This has led to an added thirst (metaphorical/literal ) for the brand — they’re hard enough to find to feel exclusive, but constantly in circulation so as not to be forgotten or force people into trying other brands.
White Claw has only been on the market for three years, but has managed to inspire bootleg merch, countless memes, and has cultivated a fan base so loyal that the brand has come to represent its own type of athleisure-y lifestyle.
couples that white claw together, stay together!! pic.twitter.com/etFhA0L9MD
— lups (@g_lupss) September 17, 2019
Fuck between the white claw shortage and the Juul ban I don’t know what I’m going to do to survive. Much to think about pic.twitter.com/bPpVI4WdBx
— hawaiianshirtdaddy 🌹 (@birkenstocksdad) September 15, 2019
at a brewery. asked the bartender if they had whiteclaw. they didnt. hurt and upset. pic.twitter.com/bnqnoco1zQ
— rob (@itsroblaw) September 11, 2019
If you’ve never had a White Claw, this frenzy might lead you to ask: the f*ck? What’s so great about this fruit-flavored hard seltzer, anyway?
Nothing, really. At least not technically. The reason that the drink is so popular is that the brand — as cringeworthy as it sounds — resonates with its targeted market of Gen Z and the last wave of Millennials. Owned by Mark Anthony Brands, which also own Mike’s Hard Lemonade, White Claw touts itself as a low-carb, 100 calorie, gluten-free, “naturally” flavored hard seltzer, with 5% alcohol by volume. It’s advertised with the tagline “Made Pure.” Now if that doesn’t sound like some Gen Z #brandspeak, what does?
As is often the case, the devil is in the details with all the “Made Pure” talk. The ingredients listed on the can include carbonated water, alcohol, citric acid (which is sometimes wholly chemical), and natural flavors. Natural Flavors, according to the FDA, can mean anything from plant-derived essential oils to any product resulting from roasting, heating, or enzymolysis (using an enzyme to extract flavor from a natural compound). As with La Croix, we don’t know how many black cherries went into your can of White Claw Black Cherry. In fact, the drink may not even contain anything derived from an actual cherry (apple and grape are often used to mimic other fruit flavors cheaply).