This might have been the year that restaurants had us eating like “fancy little bitches” (martinis, caviar “bumps,” etc.), but clearly that tendency has extended into our homes as well. Case in point: Suddenly, all over TikTok, “caviar snack” is all the rage. This is what we might expect from a New Year’s Eve party, but this caviar snack is decidedly more chill, with the black spheres appearing with creme fraiche on a cracker or on a potato chip; on top of tinned mussels on a Dorito; on a thick piece of butter on the whole-grain brick branded as Fitness Bread.
Caviar on potato chips has long been the epitome of highbrow-lowbrow snacking, signaling a specific food world familiarity. “That garage band, irreverent mindset that many chefs have adapted has allowed us to put a bowl of potato chips, a tin of caviar, and some creme fraiche on a table, and to serve it with a Miller High Life — and that’s a good thing,” Alinea’s Grant Achatz told the Robb Report back in 2017. This freeness with caviar extends into innovative combinations like a recent caviar on crab rangoon from Boston’s EBO & Company Grocery.
But famous chefs aside, the current caviar snack trend is generally because #daniellemademedoit, with the Danielle in question being influencer Danielle Matzon. A video of hers uploaded in November — in which she puts caviar onto Fitness Bread — has over seven million views as of this writing; another, of caviar on mussels on a cracker, has over 1.4 million. Matzon’s caviar surplus makes total sense: Her family runs the company Marky’s Caviar. Accordingly, her videos skirt the line between the vibe of a chill “what I ate in a day” and brand-forward promotion; either way, viewers want to eat how she’s eating.
Just as Emily Mariko went from niche success to influencing how seemingly everyone on FoodTok was eating, so too has Matzon, now known mononymously on the platform. Recently, she helped kick off the Joe & the Juice Tunacado sandwich trend, and has gotten plenty of TikTok users to try tinned mussels. (Though tinned fish swept other social media platforms a while back, it only hit its stride on TikTok this year, owing a chunk of its popularity to chef Ali Hooke’s “tin fish date night” series.) The caviar snack is basically synonymous with the “Danielle snack” now: When Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel recently posted a video of herself putting the big orange salmon roe known as ikura on potato chips, she was flooded with comments like “Danielle?” And as with Emily Mariko’s salmon bowl, to make your own version is to also briefly emulate the desirable lifestyle of an influencer whose videos you like watching.
The concept of caviar (luxurious) as a snack (functional) is a practice in contradictions, especially in light of food inflation. Naturally, some TikTok users — including Frankel herself, who described her video as an “affordable caviar deep dive” — portray their takes as budget-friendly options; one person describes themself shopping at Whole Foods, inspired by Matzon, despite “knowing damn well [they] belong at Aldi’s.” In a recent piece about caviar martinis, writer Maggie Hennessy points to cosmetics chairman Leonard Lauder’s idea of the lipstick index: that in times of economic distress, women still buy little luxuries like lipstick.
With the Wall Street Journal claiming last month that the lipstick index is back, maybe that’s exactly why the caviar snack is clicking, even if the cheapest can of sturgeon caviar goes for $41 an ounce at Whole Foods. It says, even at home: You can have a little luxury, as a treat.