Sixty-six million years ago, ancient giant ground sloths consumed avocados whole, traveled long distances, and, ahem, fertilized and dispersed the seed. Today, we still have avocados—and an affordable housing crisis that only seems to be getting worse.
There’s a lot that can happen in 66 million years, but surely the prehistoric giant ground sloths would have never dreamed that these two seemingly separate entities—avocados and real estate—could be as intrinsically tied as they are today. So how did we get here?
One year ago today, Australian millionaire developer Tim Gurner sat down for an interview with 60 Minutes Australia. For context, Gurner hails from Melbourne, the fifth-least-affordable housing market in the world, according to the 14th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.
In Melbourne, people pay up to almost 10 times their annual income to purchase a home. And in neighboring Sydney, the second-least-affordable housing market in the world, it’s up to almost 13 times the annual income.
In a world always hungry for clickbaity blanket answers to deeply complicated problems, Gurner produced one of the tastiest sound bites we were blessed with in 2017.
“When I was trying to buy my first home, I wasn’t buying smashed avocados for $19 and four coffees at $4 each,” Gurner said in his interview.
Naturally, the internet had some feelings about this
There’s the kind of receipts you get when you pay for your restaurant bill and the kind that Kim Kardashian had on a certain country-turned-pop artist’s baseless lyric claims.
In this case, folks on the internet took the arithmetic from the former and the thesis from the latter to create some of the best tweet responses to the Australian millionaire’s dubious hot take.
Monthly expenses— Murtaza Mohammad Hussain (@MazMHussain) May 15, 2017
Avocado toast: $35,000
Someone good at the economy please help me budget this
Alright, I did the math. If I stopped eating avocado toast every day, I would be able to afford a bad house in Los Angeles in 642 years. pic.twitter.com/nqhiqnQ07E— Kaleb Horton (@kalebhorton) May 15, 2017
Should I buy 2 avocados for $5 or a house pic.twitter.com/b54afXeWq2— Erika W. Smith (@erikawynn) May 15, 2017
There were also some people who were just angry.
OH SO AVOCADOS ARE WHY I CANT AFFORD A HOUSE— NOT A WOLF (@SICKOFWOLVES) May 16, 2017
I THOUGHT IT WAS BECAUSE OUR COUNTRY IS A CORPORATE RUN TRASH FIRE
WHAT A RELIEF
And others who decided to do a little digging into Tim Gurner’s, um, self-proclaimed expertise in millennials being able to afford homes.
Millennials who want to be homeowners should STOP buying avocados and START receiving $34,000 from their grandfather to start their careers pic.twitter.com/q2KXNhE9T1— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) May 15, 2017
And Australians online had some mixed feelings on how one of their very own had managed to create such a nerve-striking meme that took on a life of its own.
tfw the rest of the world learns Australia's housing affordability convo centres on brunch pic.twitter.com/5aYwi0tEhN— Lane Sainty (@lanesainty) May 15, 2017
And because there’s no such thing as a slow news day, we can’t forget that on the fateful day of May 15, 2017, this meme was bubbling up in the midst of a Kickstarter for man rompers and the U.S. president giving Russia classified intelligence.
Twitter outrage, 5/17:— dan solomon (@dansolomon) May 15, 2017
11am: avocado toast
2pm: rompers for dudes
4pm: the president spilled nat. security secrets to impress the Russians
So, why did it stick around?
In August 2017, the three-month-old meme bounced back as a related meme took off: “Hold my avocado”, a brilliant riff-off of the “hold my beer” meme, was dubbed “the viral catchphrase millennials have been looking for” by Time.
Millennial: your generation got houses and jobs— Ken Norton (@kennethn) August 8, 2017
Boomer: yes but we lived with constant fear of nuclear winter
Millennial: hold my avocado
Some rallied behind Time’s classification of this tweet.
"Hold my avocado" is gonna be the revolution's rallying cry.— Jack Worthing (@SonMcGillicuddy) August 10, 2017
While others served some hot takes of their own.
Time: "Hold my avocado... the catchphrase Millennials have been looking for."— Chris (@MixingChris) August 10, 2017
Millennials: "Oh, that magazine from the dentist in the 90s."
Meanwhile, the avocado continued to manifest itself in meme-worthy ways.
Take Avocado Rat, where the poster herself pointed out the fruit’s unshakable association with its toasty counterpart.
And in December 2017, these uncomfortable-looking seedless avocados were introduced by British retail chain Marks & Spencer.
A month later, there was the Donald Trump’s “paying for the wall by hiking prices on avocados” incident, a whole different rabbit hole that our friends over at Vox have explained in full detail.
And this past February, we all got mad again about avocado marriage proposals.
Then in May, the BBC political debate show Question Time tweeted out this innocent question.
And the internet did its thing and pulled up once more with the stat by stat breakdown.
Average London flat: £429,372— Gavin Maclean (@gavmaclean) May 3, 2018
Rough avocado price: £2
Rough coffee price: £3
A avocado & coffee a day a year: £1,825
Projected length of this avocado coffee mortgage: 235 years
My parents bought their flat for about £7,000, and then sold that to part-fund buying a house for £32,000. They still live in that. The last house to sell on their street went for £510,000. But sure, avocado toast and coffee is the problem.— Martin Belam (@MartinBelam) May 8, 2018
As you can see, the meme just keeps evolving in amusing and strange ways—who knows what will come next?
For those who can’t help but be intrigued by all things avocado toast and homeownership, follow along at our Instagram account The Avocado Dream, where we calculate how many avocado toasts it costs to buy some delectable houses, and then some.