White Claw, a spiked seltzer, launched in 2016 as the drink of sorority girls, gay men and calorie-counting twentysomethings. But over the past few months, straight men — the group who once looked down upon us for our beloved sparkling beverage — have made White Claws the drink of Hot Boy Summer. Through a heteronormative rejiggering to make the drink appeal more masculine, the Claw bros are reinforcing a tired trope that drinks must be gendered. According to Business Insider, “Claw is the law for American bros.”
“Throw a dart at my fraternity composite, and you’ll find a guy who’s into hard seltzer,” one anonymous frat boy told BI. These Claw bros came to power in June after YouTuber Trevor Wallace posted a viral video titled “*drinks White Claw once*.” He satirized Hawaiian-shirt-wearing, spiky-haired dudes saying shit like, “Ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws, baby!” and “I only drink White Claws on days that end in -y. That’s all of them, Margaret!”
The Claw bros have one powerful weapon in their arsenal: memes.
White Claw Memes Are Everywhere Now
But you’re wrong if you think bro culture is the reason White Claw is so popular. What’s happening to hard seltzer’s online image is a theft colder than a Claw straight out the cooler.
All Credit to the Claw Queens
Liana, a 24-year-old data scientist in Seattle, is the name that should be on all of our lips. She and her college friends created the hilarious White Claw Gang Instagram and Twitter accounts in October 2018. And rightfully, she would like the respect she’s due.
It was inevitable that the bros appropriated White Claw culture, Liana says. They “realized how much girls liked White Claw and how funny White Claw memes are, so they needed to jump on the bandwagon, thinking it’ll make girls relate to them and want to talk to them more.”
I previously spoke with Liana in November on why college students ditched beer for hard seltzers. White Claws originated as the go-to pregame drink for sorority girls and gay guys looking for alternatives to heavy beers or high-alcohol-content shots.
At the time, Vivian Wong was a senior at the University of Connecticut and a new devotee to hard seltzer. “I don’t think I’ve ever blacked out on any seltzer drinks,” she told me last fall. “With spiked seltzers, I can definitely control and know how much I’m drinking and how much I really need to get drunk.”
Now months later, Wong is still happily watching her alcohol intake with hard seltzer, but she’s started noticing bros stealing from her six-pack cases. “Guys be like, ‘You’re drinking a White Claw? That’s so basic, dude. … Yo, but can I have one?’” she says.
White Claw Is the New ‘Bitch Beer’
In the late 1990s, semi-sweet, carbonated alcoholic beverages like Zima and Mike’s Hard Lemonade became known by the misogynistic nickname “bitch beer.” For the past few years, White Claw has reigned as the effeminate drink du jour.
Andrea Anders, a 28-year-old from Denver, Colorado, says she and her girlfriends were teased for drinking Mike’s Hard in high school. The same goes for White Claw, of which she’s been a fan since 2016. “If women really enjoy something, it’s ‘basic’ or ‘dumb,’ something to be looked down on.” But then the bros realize it’s “fuckin’ delicious” — and they have to “reverse all the grief they gave women for it.”
Enter the bros’ new, hypermasculine slogan: “Claw is the law.” And now the Claw bros are taking the drink mainstream.
Just last month, I bonded with my 48-year-old uncle Dave over White Claws. He likes them because they lessen his hangovers and don’t make him feel bloated.
“I’ve got to lose my beer belly, and low carbs help me do that,” he tells me over text. “They don’t fill me up. They also keep me light on my feet.” But don’t call Dave a Claw bro. “To be honest, Truly is my brand,” he says. And we as a family are grateful for his seltzer sanity.
Just look at Google Trends for the phrase “White Claw.” The phrase skyrocketed in searches on June 1st, right in time for summer. It hit a new high on June 30th, days after Trevor Wallace posted his White Claw video on YouTube.
Want proof of White Claw’s mainstream popularity? The drink itself is capitalizing off the Claw bros. Yes, White Claw is the latest brand to board the corporate-meme train.