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Steak-umm Exploits Millennial Angst to Sell Frozen Cheesesteak Filling

The freezer aisle brand aims for “woke” status, while employing the same tired tactics as its competitors

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Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Millennials get blamed for a lot of things, and quite honestly, it’s exhausting to be society’s endless scapegoat. Finally though, one brand seems to really get that angst — or at least it’s pretending to. Meet Steak-umm: a Pennsylvania-based frozen, sliced steak company that’s coming to the defense of justifiably angsty millennials one tweet at a time. Just look at this thread:

Could it be that the person at the helm of Steak-umm’s social media accounts is a sad millennial, or is this merely a tactic to sell more steak and swag? Definitely the latter. This is not Steak-umm’s first thirsty attempt at internet relevance. Last year, it #hashtag campaigned heavily to get verified on Twitter and now sells t-shirts, hoodies, and mugs commemorating its blue checkmark. The freezer aisle brand’s social media presence is usually a meme generator merged into a hypebeast, with a style somewhere in between the absurdist MoonPie, the goadingly confident Wendy’s, and the parody Twitter account Nihilist Arby’s, whose humor works by combining an existentially bleak point of view with an “Eat Arby’s” exclamation point at the end of each tweet.

The joke of Nihilist Arby’s, of course, is that either all advertising is meaningless or that all life is meaningless; and that brands don’t care about the difference as long as someone’s out there consuming their product. The Steak-umm tweetstorm, in its effort to go viral, lifts the veil on that reality as frankly as a re-heatable meat brand can (while still still trying to have it both ways and get consumers to like and share its content): Wednesday’s Steak-umm Twitter rant touched on the many real-life woes of young people, but because it feels more “real” to be openly cynical, the tweets made sure to work the word “meat” in there; it reminded viewers that Steak-umm was in on the joke like some kind of brand Inception. It takes the faux millennial Twitter strategy to a new level. For its efforts, Steak-umm has gone viral, something that’s predictable and yet still deeply depressing.

It’s perhaps made even more bleak that the tweetstorm is part of a longer game: an ongoing story arc that suggests Steak-umm’s is planning to run for president in 2020. That joke appears to stretch back to a November 2017 Twitter exchange between the steak brand and Bacon 4 President. The run was formally announced in April with the slogan, “Bring Beef Back to America.” Put that slogan together with the tell-it-like-it-is style of the frozen steak candidate, and it should begin to remind people of a certain style of politics that’s emerged in recent elections: politicians demonize the strategies of the opposition while transparently pretending they aren’t guilty of the exact same tactics.

Despite Steak-umm’s efforts to stay hip in 2018, it’s not really the kind of product that millennials generally are looking for in the frozen food section. A recent survey found that shoppers tend to favor items that are antibiotic-free, hormone-free, all-natural, sustainable, and low sodium. Steak-umm is decidedly none of these things. As its inventor lovingly described it, Steak-umm is really just a brick of “homogenized meat” designed to appeal to senior citizens and children who have trouble chewing tough slices of beef in regular Philly cheesesteaks. A 2012 lawsuit revealed the contents of a Steak-umm package in more depth:

[C]hopped and formed emulsified meat product that is comprised of beef trimmings left over after an animal is slaughtered and all of the primary cuts, such as tenderloin, filet, and ribeye, are removed … The emulsified meat is pressed into a loaf and sliced, frozen and packaged.

As if millennials haven’t already suffered enough.

Update, 4:06 p.m.: Steak-umm’s social media manager Nathan Allebach Tweets that he is indeed a “sad millennial,” so when it comes to Steak-umm’s, at least we know the pain is real.

Steak-umm Has a Beef With Twitter [Philly News]
A Juicy History of Steak-Umm [Mental Floss]
New Lawsuit Reveals the World’s Grossest Meat Product Is Probably Steak-umms [Grubstreet]
All Stunts Coverage [E]