By Kate Carraway • New York Times News Service

Ease, comfort and pleasure are what millennials, those members of the high-anxiety “Doom Generation,” really want — and capitalism is into it. A new beverage called Recess is a case study in where those desires meet. Bubbles? Yes. CBD? Check. Sans-serif block font? Yeah!

Recess is a sparkling water infused with CBD, a nonintoxicating hemp extract that is said to act as a pain reliever, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory and chillifier. The drink contains adaptogens, ephemera from the neverland of is-it-food-or-not that are supposed to reduce stress and improve memory, focus and immunity. Their efficacy is without definitive evidence.

The company was founded and is owned by a millennial named Benjamin Witte, who previously worked in tech.

In the era before the commodified wellness movement, this kind of drink would have been tucked into the dimmest refrigerated corner of the spookiest health-food store, not in high demand at $29.99 for a six pack. The company has since caught up, but Recess says that a few weeks after its October start, it had 4,000 back orders.

Now, the mania for CBD means Recess has lit up the shifting aspirations of middle and upper class millennials.

First, you must speak millennial

“We canned a feeling,” breathes the copy on the Recess website.

The site uses phrases like “the unlikely friendship we’re here for” and, regarding a sample pack, “for those who fear commitment,” channeling the half-embarrassed self-aware sincerity that defines the millennial mood.

The site, social media and product all read, “Calm Cool Collected,” an apparent mantra and tagline that is all feeling, all affect, all in the soothing lexicon of self-improvement that proliferates on platforms like Instagram.

Recess offers a product that’s addressing the mid-afternoon dip otherwise fulfilled by a cigarette, a coffee or a cookie (or, actually getting high). This is all after it riffs on the childhood memory of a daily routine break.

Add carbonation

Alcohol-free, caffeine-free, sugar-free (or almost sugar-free) convenience drinks are, inexplicably, a rare commodity. A partial solve is in carbonated mineral water, sparkling water and seltzer. (They’re all different, but let’s keep it moving.)

Perrier has added orange and strawberry and other flavors to the usual lemon and lime. Spindrift has real fruit. It’s LaCroix that seems to be desired by millennials more cohesively and completely than anything else, including the toast spread with the fatty fruit of which we dare not speaketh.

Recess builds on LaCroix’s desirability, if not its accessibility. Its sales are largely driven by e-commerce, with limited IRL availability in New York, while LaCroix can be found in most major supermarkets and corner shops.

Both brands sell flavor, tribal identity and a pause. Their liquid-speedy opposites, the endless lineup of “energy” drinks, feel very Empire-era outdated in the context of ascendant millennial wellness.

Promise less anxiety (sigh)

Sparkling water may be an easier, more appealing way into wellness for the uninitiated than herbs, oils, pills and powders.

The effects of these substances are still being studied, so it’s worth reviewing with a medical professional before you try them.

The natural participants, however, are people in their 20s and 30s, who have never known the promise of life improving economic stability, or job security.

Their lives are ordered by debt so unwieldy as to be abstract; who, instead of aspiring toward power in its familiar forms, want relief — a general softening of life — and prefer sober dance parties, life-hacking podcasts and bullet journals.

A can of seltzer is just another opportunity to sell them a release from cares.

Do it for the likes

Recess’ website features the charms of vaporwave internet art and Lisa Frank-style nostalgia, while its Instagram account evokes the combined look of “Endless Summer” with “Floridian retiree” and the summer-camp psychedelia that has replaced “Lifestyle Lumberjack” as the default millennial style choice.

Is the brand in on the joke, spinning millennial nu-irony for likes and sales, or completely earnest? Definitely both.

The pastel-dream lifestyle is pitched sincerely (and received accordingly, by millennials who find comfort in fluffy-cloud aesthetics), but the product and marketing still exist within the general boundaries of detached and ironized millennial sentiment, where warmth is demanded and mocked.

The brand’s social-media marketing also features a series of nanoinfluencers — appropriately attractive and appealing unpaid friends or friends-of-friends of the founder, some of them reclining and unwinding, some doing their creative work and talking about it for the ‘gram.

Design but make it *cute*

The three available flavors — “peach ginger,” “pom hibiscus” and “blackberry chai” — roll on a continuum alongside the rose gold of an iPhone 6s Plus; now-washed “millennial pink,” the signature color of capitalized feminism (think #GIRLBOSS; think Thinx); this-very-moment’s power lavender; the diluted, creamy rose of Glossier-ed cheek and lip products; and Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year, “Living Coral,” a warm, gold-ish pink.

The colorway references the pastels that defined hip-hop fashion five years ago and the material culture of 1980s and 1990s, so, “youth” for millennials.

The brand’s minimalist typography is similarly familiar from and to the visual culture of startups and other (largely direct-to-consumer) brands like Outdoor Voices and Casper.

Recess uses a chummy script-style logo and an intentionally awkward sans-serif block type, affirming the current sensibility of young (or youngish: the oldest millennials are 38!) creative people and those who dress like them.

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