If there’s one thing that unites Boomers and Zoomers, it’s stanning Dutch ovens.
French cookware company Le Creuset, which makes cast-iron cookware in colorful, glossy shades, is a longtime staple of Nancy Meyers movies and Williams Sonoma outlets. They’re collectors’ items like American Girl dolls or Nike Air Force 1s, but for well-off, domestic adults.
In 2020’s latest twist, Le Creuset Dutch ovens have made their way to Gen Z. As chili season dawns, Zoomers are singing Le Creuset’s praises on TikTok. Here you’ll find Dutch ovens ranked by size and color (the mini cocotte is a favorite), Le Creuset pots paired with color-coded kitchens straight out of a Wes Anderson flick, and photos of softboi king Harry Styles as chic pots.
Le Creuset TikTok is just one of the many nesting dolls that make up the larger world of cottagecore. With Hozier’s “From Eden” on the Crosley for Urban Outfitters record player and Simple Mills banana bread mix in the oven, you can almost achieve a simple wood-nymph life. Promising this dream are brands that decorate capitalist ideals in an alternative, pseudo-rustic aesthetic.
Most teens admit the Le Creuset sets they’re fawning over aren’t their own. Yuting Shi, an 18-year-old from the Bay Area, posts Le Creuset drips with her parents’ collection, including the kitschy white heart-shaped Dutch and pink flower-shaped cocotte.
While most high school seniors are saving up to buy a car or concert tickets, Shi bought her own ocean-colored Dutch oven. “I love it with all my heart,” she says. “I feel like it’s worth it to spend my own money because I can use it until I’m like 100.”
Still, coveting a Le Creuset in Marseille blue doesn’t mean you’re turning into Julia Child. The appeal isn’t to actually make a hearty vegetable stew — it’s to evoke the cozy aura of a home-cooked, wholesome lifestyle. “Most people coveting these pots don’t actually cook,” says Avery Abelhouzen, a 20-year-old who calls herself “the Le Creuset girl” of TikTok.
Some millennials on Twitter seem befuddled by the Zoomer interest in expensive domestic products. Shouldn’t the generation supposedly obsessed with tearing down capitalism — the kids disillusioned with frivolous signifiers of wealth — want nothing to do with $400 pots?
In theory, yes. But political nihilism and an interest in the beautiful things in life can go hand-in-hand when there’s no ethical way to fully remove yourself from capitalism’s iron grasp. Like millennials who fawn over HGTV house flips while trapped in 400-foot Brooklyn studios, Zoomers’ obsession with Le Creuset imagines the world they could live in if they weren’t forced to be a piece in the American machine.
“In a society where owning homes is less and less likely with each generation, getting to fantasize about your dream kitchen is really nice,” Abelhouzen says.
We Zoomers are the generation that grew up on minimalist home decor “advancements.” We go to high schools and universities tearing down 200-year-old brick buildings to build glass-and-metal classrooms that look like hospitals. This sterile vibe was once a symbol of success: There were no portraits on textured walls or burgundy lived-in carpets to distract you from hustling.
Now, though, minimalism can be a reminder of the soul-suck of capitalism. A stark aesthetic is the opposite of desirable when your bedroom suddenly looks like a confinement room — or, worse, exactly like your office.
Le Creuset products, then, are the right vibe at the right time. They’re meant to be used and lived in, their insides stained brown. Call it Ina Garten chic: That queen has built a lasting career by showing us how to cook decadent boeuf bourguignon — with real butter — in a darkened Le Creuset.
Khloé Kardashian once critiqued her sister Kourtney for having a big-ass house but no Wi-Fi — an aspirational image that lacked functionality. “You’re going to die anyway,” Khloé said. “You understand that, right? Die with a good Snapchat going through.”
The same mindset goes for Zoomers. They’re increasingly aware that their world is burning, so why not simp a sturdy, colorful pot that brings them nourishment and warmth? David Greenbaum, 17, from Western Massachusetts, who posted his mom’s Le Creuset collection to TikTok, sums it up: “It’s the fantasy of [being] at peace with your Dutch oven. You’re just living life, and it’s all good.”