26 Amazing Facts About Millennials

iStock/PeopleImages
iStock/PeopleImages

Millennials are a favorite topic of magazine cover stories, psychological studies, marketing trend reports, and Baby Boomer complaints. The Millennial generation is often characterized as narcissistic, technology-obsessed, social media-driven, and, of course, student debt-burdened. But there's plenty to Millennials beyond what you see in the headlines. Here are 26 facts about the often-misunderstood generation.

  1. Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. While the definition of a Millennial varies, the Pew Research Center defines a Millennial as someone born between 1981 and 1996. That means that while "Millennial" is often used as a shorthand for "young person," the oldest members of the cohort are now in their late 30s.
  1. The term Millennial was coined in 1991 by historians Neil Howe and William Strauss in their book Generations. They decided on the label based on the fact that older Millennials would be graduating high school in 2000.
  1. Millennials love to read. In 2016, they read an average of five books per year, compared to the four books the general population, on average, reads. Millennials are also more likely to visit public libraries than other generations, and despite their tech-obsessed reputation, they're more likely to read print books than e-books.
  1. Millennials often get blamed for "killing" certain industries (though that may be due to their status as the "brokest generation"). For better or for worse, the Millennial generation has been accused of killing mayonnaise, shopping malls, paper napkins, the McDonald's Big Mac, and much more. The generation has also been blamed for falling birth rates and homeownership rates. It's not all bad news, though: Millennials have also been cited as the demographic behind America's falling divorce rate.
  1. Millennials are already prepping for retirement. A Bank of America Merrill Lynch report found that 82 percent of Millennials contribute to their employer-sponsored 401(k) plan—a higher rate than either their Gen X or Baby Boomer counterparts.
  1. But Millennials have less wealth than older generations did at the same age. The median net worth of a Millennial-headed household in 2016 was only $12,500, while Gen X households had a median net worth of $15,100 when that cohort was in the 20- to 35-year-old age range.
  1. Many Millennials still receive financial support from their parents. According to a 2019 Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey, seven out of 10 adults between the ages of 18 and 34 still rely on their parents for some kind of financial support. High levels of student and credit card debt play a role; a 2018 survey of 600 Millennials found that the average debt load was $42,000. Millennials are also more likely to live at home with their parents than previous generations did at the same age.
  1. Millennials love self improvement. A 2015 study found that 94 percent of Millennials made personal improvement-related New Year's resolutions (like saving money), which was higher than any other age group. And 76 percent said they had kept their resolutions from the previous year.
  1. Millennials think they are self-centered. Research presented in 2016 found that Millennials believe that their generation is more narcissistic than generations past. (Those surveyed from older generations rated Millennials as being more narcissistic, too.)
  1. Millennials are better-educated than past generations. Approximately 40 percent of Millennials have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to about 30 percent of Gen Xers when they were the same age.
  1. More Millennials are voting than ever. Between 2014 and 2018, election turnouts for U.S. Millennials almost doubled, going from 22 percent of eligible voters turning up at the polls to 42 percent. Millennials cast 26.1 million votes in the 2018 midterm elections.
  1. As of 2019, there were 26 Millennials serving in U.S. Congress, compared to just five in January 2017.
  1. According to the American Psychological Association's 2018 Stress in America report, U.S. Millennials report the highest stress levels of any generation. On average, Millennial respondents rated their stress level a 5.7 on a scale of 1 to 10, compared to 5.0 for Boomers and 4.1 for older Americans.
  1. Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce. As of 2017, there were 56 million Millennials working or searching for a job, compared to 53 million Gen Xers and 41 million Baby Boomers.
  1. Millennials think about work a lot. A 2016 user study by Happify, a website aimed at improving mental health, found that 25- to 34-year-olds thought about and valued work more than older users.
  1. Millennials don't take very many vacations, either. In one 2016 survey, 48 percent of Millennial employees said they wanted their boss to view them as a "work martyr" and often feel guilty for using paid time off. A 2018 study by LinkedIn found that 16 percent of Millennials surveyed said they don't request days off work because they are too nervous to ask.
  1. But Millennials love to travel. A 2019 global survey by Deloitte found that 57 percent of Millennials put seeing the world at the top of their list of aspirations, ahead of owning a home or having children.
  1. Many Millennials are going meat-free. According to The Economist, 25 percent of adults aged 25 to 34 years old report being vegan or vegetarian.
  1. The Millennial generation is less healthy than previous generations were at their age, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield. Conditions like major depression and type 2 diabetes increased in prevalence between 2014 and 2017 by double digits among Millennials: there has been a 31 percent increase in the prevalence of major depression and a 22 percent increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. That tracks with other studies, which have found that Millennials experience high rates of depression compared to older people.
  1. Millennials are very anxious. One survey conducted on behalf of Quartz in 2018 found that Millennial (and some Gen Z) employees between 18 to 34 years old experience work-disrupting anxiety and depression at almost double the rate of older workers. The authors of a 2018 policy brief on Millennials from the Berkeley Institute for the Future of Young Americans put it like this: "As the first generation raised on the internet and social media, as a generation that came of age in the wake of the worst recessions in modern history, and as a generation still grappling with increased economic uncertainty and worsening financial prospects, Millennials are experiencing anxiety like no other generation" [PDF].
  1. Millennials are perfectionists. One 2019 study of more than 41,000 American, Canadian, and British college students surveyed between 1989 and 2016 found that rates of perfectionism among young people have increased significantly over the last few decades. According to the researchers, "recent generations of young people perceive that others are more demanding of them, are more demanding of others, and are more demanding of themselves."
  1. Millennials love the internet. The Pew Research Center reports that 73 percent of online Millennials say that the internet has had a net positive impact on society—the highest percentage of any age group polled. The same report found that 97 percent of Millennials use the internet, and almost a third of them exclusively use it on their phones.
  1. Millennials love their smartphones. According to the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of Millennials carry smartphones, compared to 85 percent of Gen Xers. And they use them a lot: Some 25 percent of Millennials report looking at their phone more than 100 times a day, according to one international survey of 2600 people, and 50 percent spend more than three hours a day using their phones.
  1. There are a ton of Millennials in China. While a lot of the Millennial surveys we read exclusively discuss the habits and trends of American Millennials, there are more Millennials living in China than there are people in the U.S.—period. China is home to 351 million Millennials (25 percent of the country's population, compared to 22 percent in the U.S.), according to the Financial Times, while the U.S. population overall is just 329 million.
  1. Many American Millennials are moving to the western U.S. According to a recent SmartAsset report based on 2016 Census data, more Millennials are moving to Washington than any other U.S. state, followed closely by Texas and Colorado. The Seattle area (home of tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft) alone gained 7300 Millennials in 2016.
  1. The U.S. Millennial population is expected to reach 73 million in 2019, but Millennials will soon be outnumbered. According to Bloomberg, Generation Z will outnumber Millennials worldwide starting in late 2019, edging up to around 32 percent of the world population compared to Millennials's 31.5 percent.

The History Behind 10 Thanksgiving Dishes

VeselovaElena/iStock via Getty Images
VeselovaElena/iStock via Getty Images

Halloween is for candy comas, and on Independence Day we grill, but no holiday is as completely defined by its cuisine as Thanksgiving. No matter what part of the country you're in, it's a safe bet that at least a few of the below dishes will be making an appearance on your table this week. But what makes these specific entrees and side dishes so emblematic of Thanksgiving? Read on to discover the sometimes-surprising history behind your favorite fall comfort foods.

1. Turkey

A roasted turkey on a platter.
612645812/iStock.com

Turkey has become so synonymous with Thanksgiving that most of us probably imagine the pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans chowing down on a roast bird in 1621. Although we don't know the exact menu of that first Plymouth Colony feast, a first-person account of the year's harvest from governor William Bradford does reference "a great store of wild turkeys," and another first-person account, from colonist Edward Winslow, confirms that the settlers "killed as much fowl as … served the company almost a week." However, culinary historian Kathleen Wall believes that, although turkeys were available, it's likely that duck, goose, or even passenger pigeons were the more prominent poultry options at the first Thanksgiving. Given their proximity to the Atlantic, local seafood like oysters and lobsters were likely on the menu as well.

As the holiday grew in popularity, however, turkey became the main course for reasons more practical than symbolic. English settlers were accustomed to eating fowl on holidays, but for early Americans, chickens were more valued for their eggs than their meat, and rooster was tough and unappetizing. Meanwhile, turkeys were easy to keep, big enough to feed a whole family, and cheaper than ducks or geese. Even before Thanksgiving was recognized as a national holiday, Alexander Hamilton himself remarked that "No citizen of the U.S. shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day." The country followed his advice: according to the National Turkey Federation, 88 percent of Americans will eat turkey in some form on Thanksgiving Day—an estimated 44 million birds!

2. Stuffing

Pan of breaded stuffing.
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Stuffing would have been a familiar concept to those early settlers as well, although their version was likely quite different from what we're used to. We know that the first Plymouth colonists didn't have access to white flour or butter, so traditional bread stuffing wouldn't have been possible yet. Instead, according to Wall, they may have used chestnuts, herbs, and chunks of onion to flavor the birds, all of which were already part of the local fare. Centuries later, we're still stuffing turkeys as a way to keep the bird moist through the roasting process and add extra flavor.

3. Cranberries

Dish of cranberry sauce.
bhofack2/iStock.com

Like turkeys, cranberries were widely available in the area, but cranberry sauce almost certainly did not make an appearance at the first Thanksgiving. Why not? The sugar reserves the colonists would have had were almost completely depleted after their long sea journey, and thus they didn't have the means to sweeten the terrifically tart berries.

So how did cranberries become such an autumnal staple? For starters, they're a truly American food, as one of only a few fruits—along with Concord grapes, blueberries, and pawpaws—that originated in North America. They grow in such abundance in the northeast that colonists quickly began incorporating cranberries into various dishes, such as pemmican, which mixed mashed cranberries with lard and dried venison. By the Civil War, they were such a holiday staple that General Ulysses S. Grant famously demanded his soldiers be provided cranberries for their Thanksgiving Day meal.

4. Mashed Potatoes

Bowl of mashed potatoes.
bhofack2/iStock.com

Potatoes weren't yet available in 17th-century Plymouth, so how did mashed potatoes become another Thanksgiving superstar? The answer lies in the history of the holiday itself. In America’s earliest years, it was common for the sitting president to declare a "national day of thanks," but these were sporadic and irregular. In 1817, New York became the first state to officially adopt the holiday, and others soon followed suit, but Thanksgiving wasn't a national day of celebration until Abraham Lincoln declared it so in 1863.

Why did Lincoln—hands full with an ongoing war—take up the cause? Largely due to a 36-year campaign from Sarah Josepha Hale, a prolific novelist, poet, and editor, who saw in Thanksgiving a moral benefit for families and communities. In addition to her frequent appeals to officials and presidents, Hale wrote compellingly about the holiday in her 1827 novel Northwood, as well as in the womens' magazine she edited, Godey's Lady's Book. Her writing included recipes and descriptions of idealized Thanksgiving meals, which often featured—you guessed it—mashed potatoes.

5. Gravy

Plate of turkey and potatoes covered in gravy.
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Despite a dearth of potatoes, it's likely that some type of gravy accompanied the turkey or venison at the earliest Thanksgiving gatherings. The concept of cooking meat in sauce dates back hundreds of years, and the word "gravy" itself can be found in a cookbook from 1390. Because that first celebration extended over three days, Wall speculates: "I have no doubt whatsoever that birds that are roasted one day, the remains of them are all thrown in a pot and boiled up to make broth the next day." That broth would then be thickened with grains to create a gravy to liven day-old meat. And, if Wall's correct, that broth sounds suspiciously like the beginning of another great Thanksgiving tradition: leftovers!

6. Corn

Plate of corn.
PeopleImages/iStock

Corn is a natural symbol of harvest season—even if you're not serving it as a side dish, you might have a few colorful ears as a table centerpiece. We know that corn was a staple of the Native American diet and would have been nearly as plentiful in the 17th century as today. But according to the History Channel, their version would have been prepared quite differently: corn was either made into a cornmeal bread or mashed and boiled into a thick porridge-like consistency, and perhaps sweetened with molasses. Today, we eat corn in part to remember those Wampanoag hosts, who famously taught the newcomers how to cultivate crops in the unfamiliar American soil.

7. Sweet Potatoes

Bowl of mashed sweet potatoes.
bhofack2/iStock

In the midst of so many New England traditions, the sweet potatoes on your table represent a dash of African-American culture. The tasty taters originally became popular in the south—while pumpkins grew well in the north, sweet potatoes (and the pies they could make) became a standard in southern homes and with enslaved plantation workers, who used them as a substitution for the yams they'd loved in their homeland. Sweet potato pie was also lovingly described in Hale's various Thanksgiving epistles, solidifying the regional favorite as a holiday go-to. More recently, some families further sweeten the dish by adding toasted marshmallows, a love-it-or-hate-it suggestion that dates to a 1917 recipe booklet published by the Cracker Jack company.

8. Green Bean Casserole

Plate of green bean casserole.
DreamBigPhotos/iStock.com

Beans have been cultivated since ancient times, but green bean casserole is a decidedly modern contribution to the classic Thanksgiving canon. The recipe you probably know was whipped up in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly, a home economist working in the Campbell's Soup Company test kitchens in Camden, New Jersey. Reilly's job was to create limited-ingredient recipes that housewives could quickly replicate (using Campbell's products, of course). Her original recipe (still available at Campbells.com), contains just six ingredients: Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup, green beans, milk, soy sauce, pepper, and French's French Fried Onions. Her recipe was featured in a 1955 Associated Press feature about Thanksgiving, and the association has proven surprisingly durable—Campbell’s now estimates that 30 percent of their Cream of Mushroom soup is bought specifically for use in a green bean casserole.

9. Pumpkin Pie

Slice of pumpkin pie.
bhofack2/iStock.com

Like cranberries, pumpkin pie does have ties to the original Thanksgiving, albeit in a much different format. The colonists certainly knew how to make pie pastry, but couldn't have replicated it without wheat flour, and might have been a bit perplexed by pumpkins, which were bigger than the gourds they knew in Europe. According to Eating in America: A History, however, Native Americans were already using the orange treats as a dessert meal: "Both squash and pumpkin were baked, usually by being placed whole in the ashes or embers of a dying fire and they were moistened afterwards with some form of animal fat, or maple syrup, or honey." It's likely that Hale was inspired by those stories when pumpkin pie appeared in her culinary descriptions.

10. Wine

Two glasses of wine.
Moncherie/iStock.com

Chances are good that a few glasses of wine will be clinked around your table this November, but did the pilgrims share a tipsy toast with their new friends? Kathleen Wall thinks that water was probably the beverage of choice, considering that the small amount of wine the settlers had brought with them was likely long gone. Beer was a possibility, but since barley hadn't been cultivated yet, the pilgrims had to make do with a concoction that included pumpkins and parsnips. Considering the availability of apples in what would become Massachusetts, however, other historians think it's possible that hard apple cider was on hand for the revelers to enjoy. Whether or not the original feast was a boozy affair, cider rapidly became the drink of choice for English settlers in the area, along with applejack, apple brandy, and other fruit-based spirits. New England cider thus indirectly led to a less-beloved Thanksgiving tradition: your drunk uncle's annual political rant. Bottoms up!

8 Festive Facts About Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies

The holiday season means gifts, lavish meals, stocking stuffers, and what appear to be literally hundreds of holiday-themed movies running in perpetuity on the Hallmark Channel, which has come to replace footage of a crackling fireplace as the background noise of choice for cozy evenings indoors. Last year, roughly 70 million people watched Hallmark's holiday scheduling block. If you’re curious how the network manages to assemble films like Check Inn to Christmas, Christmas at Graceland: Home for the Holidays, and Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen with such efficiency—a total of 40 new films will debut this season on the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, and Hallmark Movies Now—keep reading.

1. The Hallmark Channel Christmas movie tradition started with ABC.

The idea of unspooling a continuous run of holiday films started in the 1990s, when ABC offshoot network ABC Family started a "25 Days of Christmas" programming promotion that would go on to feature the likes of Joey Lawrence and Mario Lopez. The Hallmark Channel, which launched in 2001, didn’t fully embrace the concept until 2011, when ABC Family moved away from the concept in an effort to appeal to teen viewers.

2. Most Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are shot in Canada.

To maximize their $2 million budget, most Hallmark Channel holiday features are shot in Canada, where tax breaks can stretch the dollar. Wintry Vancouver is a popular destination, though films have also been shot in Montreal and Toronto. One film, 2018's Christmas at the Palace, was shot in Romania to take advantage of the country's castles.

3. Each Hallmark Channel Christmas movie only takes a couple of weeks to film.

If you’re wondering why a holiday movie on basic cable can regularly attract—and keep—a list of talent ranging from Candace Cameron Bure to Lacey Chabert, the answer is partly scheduling. Most Hallmark holiday movies take just two to three weeks to shoot, meaning actors don’t have to commit months out of the year to a project. Actors like Rachael Leigh Cook, who stars in this year's A Blue Ridge Mountain Christmas, have also complimented the channel on giving them opportunities to be with their families while on location: Cook said that the production schedule allowed her time to FaceTime with family back home.

4. Hallmark Channel Christmas movies use a variety of tricks to create snow.

Even more pervasive than Dean Cain in the Hallmark Channel Christmas line-up is snow. Because some of the films shoot in the summer, it’s not always possible to achieve that powder naturally. Producers use a variety of tricks to simulate snowfall, including snow blankets that mimic the real thing when laid out; foam; commercial replica snow; crushed limestone; and ice shavings. Actors might also get covered with soapy bubbles for close-ups. The typical budget for snow per movie is around $50,000.

5. There’s a psychological reason why Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are so addictive.

Like a drug, Hallmark Channel Christmas movies provide a neurological reward. Speaking with CNBC in 2019, Pamela Rutledge, behavioral scientist, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, and a faculty member in the Media Psychology department at Fielding Graduate University, explained that the formulaic plots and predictability of the films is rewarding, especially when viewers are trying to unwind from the stress of the holiday season. “The lack of reality at all levels, from plot to production, signals that the movies are meant to be escapism entertainment,” Rutledge said. “The genre is well-defined, and our expectations follow. This enables us to suspend disbelief.”

6. Hallmark Channel Christmas movie fans now have their own convention.

Call it the Comic-Con of holiday cheer. This year, fans of Hallmark Channel’s Christmas programming got to attend ChristmasCon, a celebration of all things Hallmark in Edison, New Jersey. Throngs of people gathered to attend panels with movie actors and writers, scoop up merchandise, and vie for prizes during an ugly sweater competition. The first wave of $50 admission tickets sold out instantly. Hallmark Channel USA was the official sponsor.

7. Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are helping keep cable afloat.

Actors Brooke D'Orsay and Marc Blucas are pictured in a publicity still from the 2017 Hallmark Channel original movie 'Miss Christmas'
Brooke D'Orsay and Marc Blucas in Miss Christmas (2017).
Hallmark Channel

In an era of cord-cutting and streaming apps, more and more people are turning away from cable television, preferring to queue up programming when they want it. But viewers of Hallmark Channel’s holiday offerings often tune in as the movie is airing. In 2016, 4 million viewers watched the line-up “live.” One reason might be the communal nature of the films. People tend to watch holiday-oriented programming in groups, tuning in as they air. The result? For the fourth quarter of 2018, the Hallmark Channel was the most-watched cable network among women 18 to 49 and 25 to 54, even outpacing broadcast network programming on Saturday nights.

8. You can get paid to watch Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.

If you think you have the constitution to make it through 24 Hallmark Channel holiday films in 12 days, you might want to consider applying for the Hallmark Movie Dream Job contest, which is sponsored by Internet Service Partners and will pay $1000 to the winning entrant who seems most capable of binging the two dozen films and making wry comments about them on social media. You can enter though December 6 here.

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