Nowadays, whenever Jules Zucker has a case to make, she throws a candy bar from Reese’s Fast Break into her bag.
“We live in a time where security and ‘the great joys’, if you will, are not guaranteed at all,” she said. “So all we have to fall back on are small amenities. It’s almost like a poor man’s hedonism. “
“It’s about giving ourselves small gains,” she added. “As a small symbol of resistance to systems that suck us dry and then tell us we are failing.”
Zucker, a 26-year-old music coordinator living in Brooklyn, is just one of many people who have changed their lives to include more small pleasures after two years of canceled plans and lowered expectations throughout the pandemic.
Tracy Llanera, 35, a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut who studies nihilism, said that this approach is a way for people to regain some of the freedom and stability that has been lost since the beginning of 2020.
“In the Covid pandemic, what confirms that you suffer from existential nihilism is the lack of control,” Llanera said.
In the midst of these feelings of ongoing helplessness and grief, she said, people are trying to find consistent and reliable pleasures.
“Something about candy culture is that you will always get the treat regularly,” she added. “You can at least trust it. There’s a guarantee that this little ritual you have every week will at least satisfy you.”
Candy is not a new concept; they had a particularly big moment in 2011, when “Parks and Recreation” popularized the phrase “Treat Yo ‘Self” – a saying that accompanied an annual day of (you guessed it) treats for two of the program’s characters – and introduced it to the collective consciousness .
But Treat Yo’s Self Day is particularly centered around capitalism. As one character says, it’s about buying clothes, fragrances, massages, mimosas and fine leather goods, among other things.
And although the pandemic has changed people’s spending and savings habits, it has also encouraged people to redefine what a treat means to themselves more often and more creatively. Daily walks, for example, have become a coping mechanism for many workers who no longer commute to the office.
In January, when Zucker posted a tweet about well-deserved treats, more than a quarter of a million people agreed with the feeling.
But when the tweet went viral, Zucker was wary of people interpreting it as supporting capitalism.
“It was a tweet posted by many brands, which I found a little annoying,” she said. “First, they did not pay me. And second, I thought, ‘No, this is not for you.’ Like, get out of here! I’m not trying to help you sell products.”
“I think a treat can be something you make for yourself,” she added, “not just something you buy for yourself.”
Greyson Imm, a 16-year-old student in the Kansas City area, was one of hundreds of people who responded to Zucker’s tweet, which wrote that “the industrial complex” as a pleasure … “has ruined his budget and validated his icy chai habit.
“It has grown to a constant in my life, which is why I formulated it as ‘the industrial complex as a treat,'” Mr. Imm. Said. a good way to either pick me up or celebrate something good. “
This shift towards candy culture means that outside of big ticket purchases – and outside of the multi-billion dollar self-care industry – people are finding small and big ways to get brighter every day.
Madison Butler, a 30-year-old vice president of a glass company, said the pandemic has encouraged her to pamper herself with bigger treats.
“A treat is not always a big ticket for me, sometimes it’s just like ‘I want crab brangoon’ or ‘I should go for an hour and just sit quietly by the water,'” she said. “But I’m a big proponent of black women deserving of luxury.”
After having a tough first week in March, for example, she extended her work trip to New York City by an extra day to stop by Louis Vuitton (where she swapped a “non-functional” bag for sandals with straps), Balenciaga (where she found a pair of yellow, pink and green floral Crocs), Balmain (where she got a pink bag to match her new Crocs) and Dior (where she got a green bag) before heading to a show of ” Wicked “.
Although luxury shopping is not always how she chooses to treat herself, Butler said the pandemic encouraged her to rethink her daily life.
“I shared my time between Austin and Rhode Island, which was part of treating myself,” Butler said, describing one of the many ways her life has changed since the pandemic began. “The ultimate experience is to be in a place that is good for my mental health.”
Gretchen Rubin, a 56-year-old writer and podcaster who studies happiness and habit formation, said that goodies have always appeared in her work, but the pandemic has given them a new sense of urgency.
“Many people justify things:” in view of all that is happening; given what has been required of me; considering all that I have been deprived of; I need it. I deserve treatment “, said Rubin.
But not all goodies are created equal. Moderation, said Rubin, is what makes the goodies feel healthy and special.
“Crossword puzzles are my husband’s candy, and he does not regret it,” Rubin said. “But if he did it seven hours a day, he might regret it.”
Recognizing the moment as something special is crucial, Rubin suggests.
“You have to say it’s a pleasure; you have to know that it is a pleasure, ”she said. “If you just do it in passing, and you do not celebrate it as a pleasure, then you will not benefit from it.”
Mr. Imm said that the mentality is what makes his usual goodies – buying iced chais and visiting record stores – feel special.
You can reward yourself by doing this as you normally would, but if you frame it by saying ‘it’s a pleasure’ or ‘it’s a reward’, it makes it more rewarding and more satisfying, says Imm.
Bettina Makalintal, a 29-year-old reporter at Eater, said she has always been craving sweets, but working from home has made it easier for her to take the time and space to take care of herself.
“A big change in this idea of candy is to approach everyday, everyday tasks and see it in a way that makes it feel like a pleasure,” she said.
“If I’m going for a walk to get coffee, it’s not just a walk; it’s an excursion, ”added Ms. Makalintal. “Like just changing how I see everything so that it feels like something I do will to do as opposed to something I do have to do.”