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The Marketability of Little Treats

Are you a burnt-out, hard-working babe?. Well then, dive into Holly Mitchell’s exploration of little treat culture and the psychology behind treating yo’ self!



If you’re a relative, or friend, or have ever served me at a Chatime, you will be well aware of my love of a little treat! I cannot help myself. I see a little treat, I froth at the mouth. It really does not help that the Central Courtyard is packed to the brim with potential little treats. As we students know, Macquarie University also neighbours Macquarie Centre (a pure hub for little treats… looking at you YoChi). Great for more little treats, but not so great for my declining savings. 


A little treat is exactly as it sounds. Though it gained its proper name via social media earlier this year, the concept has always existed. Getting a little treat simply means purchasing something small (e.g. an overpriced beverage, or a fancy lunch you could have easily prepared for yourself at home) to reimburse yourself for one of the following scenarios: (a) finishing a particularly hard day of work, (b) getting through a difficult class, or (c) finishing one sentence of your 1500 word essay. Of course, the purchasing of a little treat is not limited to these scenarios, but they are seemingly what the devil on my shoulder answers to best. 



Tracey Llanera, a Professor of Philosophy from the University of Connecticut, explored why so many of us might feel the urge to grab a little treat. She argues that in a post-pandemic culture, it is a way for individuals to make time for life’s simple pleasures: “There’s a guarantee that this small little ritual that you have every week will at least satiate something in you”.[1] Well, rightio Tracey, explain to me why as a child, I had to be bribed with a Barbie in Mermaidia doll to attend my weekly swimming lessons to ensure I would never be in a, most literal, sink or swim situation?! 


Perhaps I’ve just always been a bit of a materialistic little diva. I definitely need to have a chat with my parents about this.


Or is it possible that despite only recently finding its name, we have had ‘little treat’ culture shoved down our throats for years? I recall a 2021 Menulog advertisement campaign that used to bother me, as it would play during every ad break between my re-binging of Dance Moms. It wasn’t as catchy as Snoop Dogg or Katy Perry’s respective Menulog melodies, but it began to catch my attention:


“Wash the cat? Treat Yo’ Self! Gotta wash the bathroom after washing the cat? Treat Yo’ Self! Whatever, whenever. Treat Yo’ Self with Menulog!”[2]



The then-unnamed ‘little treat’ culture was utilised to encourage Menulog customers to fish from their savings to have takeout for the night. Especially if it was a particularly rough day they had endured, and no one in the household could, quite frankly, be fucked to cook. That being said, I can remember countless occasions as a child when I had won an award at school and batted my eyelids at Mum and Dad until they purchased a little treat for me. A token of their daughter’s brilliance! I didn’t think it was too much to ask for. 9 times out of 10, it ended up being an M&M McFlurry. I was never upset with this result. 


I recently visited the Crunch Café (located next to the MQ gym) with my boyfriend. He knows better than most my constant need for a little treat, lest I get twitchy and am unable to function for the remainder of the day. Glancing up at this café’s letterboard, I notice the subheading of my dreams: ‘TREATS’. I chuckled and nudged him to confirm that my eye is in fact drawn to anything involving a little treat. The ‘treats’ listed were chicken nuggets (yum), potato wedges (yum), and shoestring fries (yum). Thankfully it was barely 10:30am, and breakfast was still in my system. Little treat-o’clock would strike later. 


It did, however, verify that the little treat marketing apocalypse has well and truly reached us here at uni! There is no escape! 


This marketability of grabbing a little treat has become facilitated by any form of store you walk into. Ever head to the checkouts, and you see all the little easy-to-grab little treats lined up? You most likely do, since it is featured in every store you walk into. At Woolies, they have rows of chocolates and gum lined up, while at Mecca, it’s the travel-sized variations of expensive makeup brands. A glorified tester product, really. This is known as the ‘queue line stock’ where I work, and the trick is to encourage customers to grab small, seemingly cheap items (i.e. a chocolate bar) on their way out to purchase the items they were already initially grabbing. A real form of modern-day evil genius. 


There also exists the issue of economic privilege attached to this little treat culture. It is no secret that little treats rack up a hefty bill, meaning that you can only really be addicted to this culture if you have the financial leeway to do so. Otherwise, it is purely packed snacks and a bottle of water to fuel yourself throughout the day. Nothing is wrong with that, but it loses the spontaneity and excitement of selecting a little treat to purchase. 


Aren’t we all just simple little people who want a simple little treat at the end of the day? Unfortunately, companies have picked up on this, and have capitalised on this fun little online gimmick. They have a real knack for that. Finished reading this article? Treat Yo’ Self! 



ENDNOTES


[1] Carmel, Julia. “Yes, You Do Deserve a Little Treat”, The New York Times, 1 Apr. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/01/style/yes-you-do-deserve-a-little-treat.html 


[2] Alexander Bremner, Dale. “Menulog - Treat Yo’ Self”, Vimeo, 18 Oct. 2021, https://vimeo.com/634995228 

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