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The meatballs at IKEA have successfully halted the downward spiral of more than one rapidly-declining
shopping trip.
But is this a function of the quality of the meatballs themselves, or are there other psychological
factors in play?
These are the reasons why IKEA's meatballs are so delicious.
Ikea sells about one billion meatballs worldwide, each and every year.
"When you say IKEA most people think of probably a piece of furniture, or our Swedish meatballs."
Because of the insane volume of meatball sales, we wouldn't blame you for assuming that they're
also loaded with all sorts of weird additives, preservatives, and laboratory-grade chemicals.
But amazingly, IKEA delivers a billion of these babies to hungry shoppers each year,
using all-natural ingredients.
The Ikea website lists the contents of their meatballs, and the rundown is surprisingly
simple: A combination of pork and beef, onion, breadcrumbs, egg, water, salt, and pepper.
This gentle seasoning allows the flavor of the meat to shine through, and makes IKEA
meatballs one of those rare quick-service meals that's actually made of real food.
"Wow, you have some beautiful balls."
But the beef and pork variety isn't the only option!
In addition to the classic, IKEA offers three more meatball options in the U.S.: A chicken-based
version, a vegetarian meatball, and believe it or not, a meatball formed from fish, made
from ASC-certified salmon with the addition of MSC-certified cod, and then seasoned with
seaweed and lemongrass.
The new "salmon balls" are sold as part of a meal for $5.99, in some locations, and come
with two sides: fennel and cabbage, and mashed potatoes.
If there's one thing that's a little unnerving about the nutritional makeup of IKEA's legendary
meatballs, it lurks a little deeper in the nutritional information.
According to the company's website, the 12-meatball plate packs a pretty serious amount of salt,
to the tune of 1,520 milligrams.
This puts you more than halfway toward the recommended daily allowance for adults, according
to the Center for Disease Control, with just one sit-down snack.
"Oh my God."
So what's the link between saltiness and deliciousness?
According to Fine Cooking, some people think salt is delicious because of our biological
need for sodium chloride.
But there's more to salt's appeal than simple biology.
Salt can enhance sweetness, help block bitter flavors, and can help make meats juicier.
Let's talk for a minute about the concept of "manufactured scarcity."
Basically, the idea is that by artificially denying access to something, customers will
crave it much more than they ordinarily would.
"Oh no, oh not now."
"What's the matter?"
"McRib is back."
Want an example?
Look at McDonald's "McRib" sandwich, which has had several "farewell" tours and is constantly
rumored to be discontinued, but which still gets trotted out once or twice a year.
Every time, fans go crazy for the McRib, not because it's an excellent sandwich, but because
of its limited availability.
So, the same concept probably applies to your love of IKEA meatballs.
If you ate them every single day of your life, you probably wouldn't enjoy them so much.
But on the special occasion that you've successfully braved the crowds at IKEA?
"Let's go."
Though most of us don't know our lingonberries from our snozzberries, we can all agree that
the sharp tartness of that jam pairs perfectly with those wondrous meatballs.
"What do the American kids say?
Jelly."
According to Tasting Table, there are two main reasons why you may enjoy a slice of
cheddar cheese with your apple pie, dipping french fries into your Frosty, or dabbing
your salty meatballs in a swipe of sweet-and-tart lingonberry jam.
First, the salt in the meatballs makes sweet foods appear to taste even sweeter.
The second reason, is biology: Our bodies need both salt and sweets, since we tend to
think that sweet foods are the most energy-rich, and sticking both things in our mouth at the
same time makes us think we've hit the evolutionary survival jackpot.
Have you ever noticed that during prolonged periods of stress or anxiety, or after walking
several miles like a rat in a maze made of tiny fully-furnished apartments, guided only
by light-up arrows projected onto the floor to keep you from losing your way, you tend
to get ravenously hungry?
That's never more true than after an afternoon shopping at IKEA.
"I'm a mess, and I'm starving."
By the time you stumble upon the IKEA cafeteria, not-so-accidentally located in the center
of the store, you've probably developed a serious pit in your empty stomach.
That's when a plate of IKEA meatballs is there, right at the exact moment you need them most.
"Mmm.
Well that's lunch done.
Now back to work."
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This Is Why IKEA's Meatballs Are So Delicious

224 Folder Collection
Winnie Liao published on April 18, 2019
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