Two years ago, as I stumbled through a chaotic, increasingly hopeless housing market, I formulated a plot: I could buy an Airstream instead, ditch my apartment and hit the road with my dog and my laptop.
I’d bid adieu to my New York life, which, at that moment, didn’t include much besides 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 went through the roof. People who had the means to travel found a way to get out and try something new.
With gas prices hovering a little over two bucks, there was little getting in the way of the fantasy of being untethered.
But even as the national average hovers around $5 a gallon — more than double what it was in 2020 — Americans don’t appear to be falling out of love with the road.
Unlike some other pandemic-era beneficiaries like Zoom and Peloton, whose fortunes have waxed and waned in lock step with Covid-19, the RV industry is a pandemic winner that is, a bit surprisingly, still thriving:
- 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 year of production ever.
- Thor Industries, which owns Airstream and Jayco, said sales were up around 35% in the past three months compared with the same period last year.
- Thor still has nearly $14 billion worth of backlogged RV orders.
So, how are road-bound citizens coping?
Shorter trips, for starters.
And then coughing up three figures when it’s time to fill up. One couple whom Matt spoke to said it can cost them close to $900 to fill their 150-gallon diesel tank.
Even with the high gas prices, RVShare, an Airbnb-like rental site, had its biggest day of bookings this year.
Travelers may be eating the extra fuel costs more willingly because, well, everything is more expensive, including airfare and home prices. Filling up right now may be painful, but we can cross our fingers that the days of $2 gas could come around again. Meanwhile, there are mountains to see and wifi hot spots to seek out.
(As for the hound and me, we put #vanlife fantasies on hold. The rest of that story can wait for my memoir…)
When food news breaks, Nightcap’s always-hungry team is all over it. Welcome to snacktime, America.
First up: Kellogg is breaking up
- The 116-year-old cereal and snack giant is splitting into three different companies which I’ve decided to call The Cereal One, The Snacks One, and The Veg One (or what the company called a “pure-play plant-based” operation, anchored by its MorningStar Farms brand).
- The real new names for the spin-offs are TBA.
- Kellogg shares jumped more than 2% Tuesday because, in theory at least, the spinoff maneuver should let each of the new companies grow at their own pace.
- The tent pole of the trio by far will be The Snacks One, which includes Pop-Tarts, Nutri-Grain, Pringles and Cheez-It. That sector accounts for a full 60% of Kellogg’s sales, my colleague Jordan Valinsky writes.
- Bigger trend: It’s the break-down-to-build-up technique we’re seeing a lot of these days in the corporate world (and any number of gyms). See also: Johnson & Johnson, Toshiba and GE, which have announced similar plans.
Speaking of snacks…
- Mondelez, the food giant that counts Oreo and Triscuits among many others in its portfolio, is buying Clif Bar for $3 billion.
- That brings the Clif and Luna brands, beloved by endurance athletes the world over (Carrot Cake Clif for the win), under a big-name corporate umbrella for the first time since it was founded in 1992. As Clif tells it, the bar was born at the end of a grueling bike ride when the founder could no longer choke down 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 business.
Time for dessert…
- In the grand tradition of taking one food and smashing it into another food, Krispy Kreme is taking its signature sugary pastry down a new path with glazed doughnut ice cream.
- It’s rare for me to feel so completely neutral about two foods I adore. Doughnuts? Perfect. Ice cream? Zero notes. Glazed doughnut ice cream? I dunno… was that flavor combo really missing from my life? Probably not. But, as Krispy Kreme well knows, we the people love a weird mashup that’s also not particularly risky — novel enough to pique our interest but so low-stakes it can’t really hurt the brand even if it’s an unmitigated disaster.