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Admit it: You've pretended to need another BILLY bookcase for the sole purpose of loading up on some Swedish meatballs.
As it turns out, that was all part of IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad's master plan, way back when the first store opened in 1958.
He figured well-fed customers would increase sales - and boy, was he was right.
Even today, the meatballs are referred to as "the best sofa-seller."
But what makes this furniture-store-turned-foodie-favorite tick?
Here's the untold truth of the IKEA food court.
Affordable snacking.
It's hard to beat the food prices at IKEA and those dirt cheap meals are all part of the design.
Gerd Diewald who runs IKEA's food operations in the U.S., told Fast Company, "When you feed [customers], they stay longer, they can talk about their [potential] purchases, and they make a decision without leaving the store."
And this theory works.
650 million hungry furniture shoppers are spending almost $2 billion a year in IKEA's food court.
Not exactly Swedish.
Spoiler alert: those "Swedish" meatballs aren't actually Swedish.
In April 2018, the country of Sweden came clean, tweeting: "Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles the twelfth brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century. Let's stick to the facts!"
While some fans lamented that their "whole life had been a lie," others wanted to know about those lingonberries.
The official word?
"They don't grow in Sweden exclusively. But lingonberry jam accompanying meatballs is damn near as Swedish as it gets!"
The rest of the menu is about 50 percent Scandinavian, according to Fast Company, with items tailored to specific markets.
Not your grandma's hamburger.
Over the years, IKEA has listened to customers' desires for more plant-based options.
In 2015 they introduced a vegan version of their iconic meatballs, and in early 2019 they'll be rolling out vegan hot dogs in the U.S. stores.
But they have some other truly innovative items in the works.
Space10, IKEA's external innovation lab, is setting out to create sustainable "fast food of the future."
And among that futuristic food is the Bug Burger, made of ground mealworm, parsnip, beetroot, and potato; the Dogless Hotdog, made of veggies and nestled in a green spirulina bun; and the Neatball - another chance to get your mealworm protein fix.
Unfortunately, you might have to wait a while to try these tasty treats.
A Space10 rep told Esquire, "This project is limited to culinary research, and there are no current plans to put these dishes on IKEA's menu."
Meatball pop-up?
A staggering 30 percent of IKEA customers come to the store just for the food.
And seeing an opportunity to reach more dining-only customers, in 2017 the company tested several stand-alone pop-up restaurants in major cities where a traditional store just wouldn't work.
Michael La Cour, IKEA Food's managing director, told Fast Company, "I firmly believe there is potential. I hope in a few years our customers will be saying, 'IKEA is a great place to eat - and, by the way, they also sell some furniture.'"
As of 2018, IKEA has no solid plans for a restaurant roll-out.
But here's hoping we don't have to assemble our own take-out containers when it finally happens.
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The Truth About The IKEA Food Court

26463 Folder Collection
HsiangLanLee published on October 1, 2018    HsiangLanLee translated    Evangeline reviewed
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