A tasty icon
Millions enjoy IKEA meatballs every year and some admirers report travelling for hours just to order it at an IKEA restaurant. But, the IKEA meatballs as we know them were created as a solution to a tough challenge back in 1985 – failing restaurants.
“Back then, guests in our restaurants were not served in a smooth and quick way and the quality was uneven,” explains Severin Sjöstedt, a Swedish chef who was asked to help out because of his passion for food and traditional Swedish cooking. “It was a serious problem because as Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA founder, put it: ‘It is tough to do business with hungry stomachs’”.
Severin threw himself into the job of creating the perfect meatball recipe, a challenge that involved long and passionate discussions with his team and Ingvar Kamprad. Even within Sweden, opinions vary greatly on how a meatball should taste. Between Ingvar hailing from the south, and Severin a couple of dialects north, there were deeply rooted disagreements about what a real Swedish meatball should taste like.
Over the course of 10 months, Severin hardly left the kitchen. He was totally engulfed and put his heart and soul into finding the right recipe. He not only had to create a meatball that tasted good, he had to create one that could be made in batches of more than 300 kg each.
More than 1 billion sold every year
Nearly a year after the project started, IKEA restaurants began serving the IKEA version of Swedish meatballs. Each time a new IKEA store opened, Severin could see thousands of people lining up to be served. “It warms my heart to know I had a small piece of doing something tasty for a lot of people. The meatball embodies so much of the IKEA culture: it’s convenient, it’s Swedish, and it’s for the many. And after so many years, it’s still on the menu at every IKEA store in the world.”