Two years ago, as I stumbled through a chaotic and increasingly desperate real estate market, I formulated a plot: I could buy an Airstream instead, give up my apartment and hit the road with my dog and my laptop.
I had said goodbye to my life in New York, which at that point didn’t include much except working from home, walking in the park, and trying like hell to avoid the plague. I was far from alone. #Vanlife exploded on social media. RV sales have exploded. People who could afford to travel found a way to get out and try something new.
With gas prices hovering just above two dollars, there were few barriers to the fantasy of being free.
But even though the national average hovers around $5 a gallon — more than double what it was in 2020 — Americans don’t seem to be falling in love with the road.
Unlike some other pandemic-era beneficiaries like Zoom and Peloton, whose fortunes have risen and fallen with the pace of Covid-19, the VR industry is a pandemic winner who, somewhat surprisingly, continues to thrive:
- RV production in North America hit an all-time high in 2021, with more than 600,000 vehicles produced, according to the RV Industry Association. 2022 will be its second-best production year yet.
- Thor Industries, which owns Airstream and Jayco, said sales were up about 35% in the past three months compared to the same period last year.
- Thor still has nearly $14 billion in pending VR orders.
So how are road citizens doing?
Shorter journeys, for starters.
And then cough up triple digits when it’s time to refuel. A couple Matt spoke to said it could cost them almost $900 to fill their 150 gallon diesel tank.
Even with high gas prices, RVShare, an Airbnb-like rental site, had its biggest day of bookings this year.
Travelers may be more willing to accept the extra fuel costs because, well, everything is more expensive, including plane tickets and house prices. Fueling up right now can be painful, but we can cross our fingers that the days of $2 gas can return. Meanwhile, there are mountains to see and wifi hotspots to search for.
(As for the dog and I, we put the #vanlife fantasies on hold. The rest of this story can wait for my memoirs…)
When the food news breaks, Nightcap’s ever-hungry crew is everywhere. Welcome to tea time, America.
First up: Kellogg splits
- The 116-year-old cereal and snack giant splits into three different companies that I’ve decided to call The Cereal One, The Snacks One and The Veg One (or what the company has called a “pure- plant-based play” operation, anchored by its MorningStar Farms brand).
- The real new names for the spin-offs are TBA.
- Kellogg’s shares jumped more than 2% on Tuesday because, in theory at least, the spin-off maneuver should allow each of the new companies to grow at their own pace.
- The tent pole of the trio will by far be The Snacks One, which includes Pop-Tarts, Nutri-Grain, Pringles and Cheez-It. This sector accounts for 60% of Kellogg’s sales, writes my colleague Jordan Valinsky.
- Bigger trend: It’s the building breakdown technique that we see a lot these days in the corporate world (and in many gyms). See also: Johnson & Johnson, Toshiba and GE, which have announced similar plans.
Speaking of snacks…
- Mondelez, the grocery giant with many other Oreos and Triscuits in its portfolio, is buying Clif Bar for $3 billion.
- This brings the Clif and Luna brands, beloved by endurance athletes around the world (Carrot Cake Clif for the win), under one big name corporate umbrella for the first time since its inception in 1992. As Clif puts it, the bar was born at the end of a grueling bike ride when the founder could no longer stifle the athlete-focused bars that were on the market at the time.
- For Mondelez, the move expands its presence in the ever-competitive snack bar industry.
- In the grand tradition of taking one food and mashing it into another food, Krispy Kreme takes its signature sweet pastry down a new path with Glazed Donut Ice Cream.
- Rarely do I feel so completely neutral about two foods that I love. Donuts? Perfect. Ice cream? Zero rating. Glazed donut ice cream? I don’t know…was that combination of flavors really missing in my life? Probably not. But, as Krispy Kreme well knows, we people love a weird mashup that’s also not particularly risky – new enough to pique our interest but so unimportant that it can’t really harm the brand itself. if it is an absolute disaster.