Dick Wolfise: Putting it all together

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Dick Wolfsie

Mary Ellen and I live about two miles from an IKEA. We went there when they first opened, just to look around. I was mostly looking for the exit because the place was so massive, we were afraid we’d get lost. That would have been okay, since there were tiny bedrooms all over the store where we could have hung out for a nice, relaxing evening. Food would not have been an issue, either. As you surely know, there is a huge bistro located in the center of the store. No need to ask for directions or follow floor markings: just walk toward the smell of Swedish meatballs.

IKEA recently decided to capitalize on the popularity of their iconic dish. They are spearheading a new promotional campaign to celebrate their company and its customers. It features the Huvudroll Meatball scented candle, part of the Swedish furniture company’s “Store in a Box” gift, orchestrated to bring the sights, sounds and smells of their hallowed halls inside a surprise package. The candle is just one item in an assortment of merchandise that will be offered to exactly 986 customers on a lottery basis. Why 986? No clue, but the number does look the same if you turn it upside down, just like the nightstand I bought at IKEA.

As of this writing, the marketing people have not decided what else to include in the box, or even how big the box will be. Said one executive: “We still haven’t put it all together, so we are not sure what it will finally look like.” This sounds vaguely like what I said after I tried to assemble my first IKEA bookshelf.

The meatballs are tasty, but they haven’t been without controversy. Several years ago, IKEA was required to “withdraw” some of their food from supermarkets in Sweden because health officials discovered traces of horse meat in the product. In racing terminology, horses are not “withdrawn,” they’re scratched. But no shopper wants to hear the phrase, “Effective immediately, we are scratching our Swedish meatballs.”

Meatballs have always been popular, especially at weddings, and now, with that dash of equine flavor, they became a big hit at bridle showers, as well. I’m warning you: that will not be the last horrible pun in this article. People tweeted about the horsey issue. Here were my favorites:

Tried both beef tacos and horse tacos. Horse wins by a nose.

My friend ate it and was hospitalized. Condition: Stable.

Ate too much. Gave me the trots.

My roommate suggested we eat meatballs for lunch. I said WHOA, not so fast.

By the way, why was horse meat added to some of their products? Is it cheaper than beef? Aren’t horses harder to catch? I could see why rabbit would be expensive. They should give turtle soup away. On cooking websites, there are hundreds of recipes for dishes that feature horse meat. A noted food critic who has sampled them all, says: “Most of the dishes are winners.” Seems like the winners would have a better chance of not being on the menu.

By the way, I like IKEA’s pulled-pork sandwich. I’m just not sure where they pulled the pork from.

Meanwhile, I look forward to learning what else will be put in that IKEA box. If I’m one of the winners, I hope whatever is in there does not require assembly.