White Claw Is What Happens When Being Cool Becomes Exhausting

Last week, the local police department in Portland, Maine, delivered a reminder to its community via Twitter: There are, in fact, laws when you’re drinking Claws. A few days later, cops in Kenosha, Wisconsin, did the same on Facebook. Authorities in Bath Township, Michigan, then took the warning one step further, eliciting more than 1,000 Facebook comments on a post that reminded people there are indeed consequences to getting “white girl wasted” on the popular brand of boozy seltzer.

In each instance, police were referring to a viral joke about the hard-seltzer brand White Claw: “Ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws.” The phrase, often accompanied by a doctored version of the brand’s wave logo, has been emblazoned on shirts, koozies, and flags since it emerged from YouTube a couple of months ago. And it’s only the most popular in a litany of White Claw–centric memes that have popped up all over the internet, as Claws themselves have made their way into the hands of beachgoers and cookout attendees across America. Even summer itself has become a White Claw meme. Instead of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl Summer,” seltzer acolytes have renamed the season “White Claw Summer.”

If all this enthusiasm for getting absolutely twisted on a lightly flavored, low-alcohol grocery-store beverage sounds sort of lame to you, you’re not wrong. But you’ve missed the point. Tweeting or Instagramming about spiking your already spiked seltzer with a little (gasp) vodka or the rapturous joy of a buy-one-get-one-free sale on Claws is about as basic as lining up at your local Starbucks on the first day of pumpkin-spice-latte season. That’s also why it’s fun.

Americans under 40 are wary of the calories and carbs associated with beers and sugary concoctions. These concerns have contributed to a decline of nearly 3 percent in the American beer market since 2015 and a general stagnation in the country’s alcohol sales. But ready-to-drink canned beverages have become a beacon of hope for American booze brands. The sales of distilled-liquor cocktails, flavored malt beverages, and hard seltzers have skyrocketed in the past year. White Claw, which has more than half of hard seltzer’s U.S. market share, has been especially buoyant. Through May, sales of the brand’s assorted-flavor multipacks alone surged 320 percent over the same period last year.

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