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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 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 US, 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 XII 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 US 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.

Admit it: You've pretended to need another BILLY bookcase for the sole purpose of loading up on some Swedish meatballs.

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The Truth About The IKEA Food Court

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    HsiangLanLee posted on 2021/12/24
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