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The History of the Ikea Meatball

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Image via <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/ikea-meatballs-horse-meat-find-1730396">The Mirror UK</a>.
Image via The Mirror UK.

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This year, Ikea estimates that it will sell 150 million Swedish meatballs. That's a stunning quantity for what, at first, was an afterthought. As revealed in this morning's Wall Street Journal, the hot plate was the brainchild of Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, who worried that customers would get hungry while browsing his massive warehouses. He tasked then store-manager Sören Hullberg to come up with a brief menu for a food department that would be in line with Ikea's cost-cutting strategies. It had to be cheap, and it had to be really, really Swedish. Meatballs were the answer, along with salmon, roast beef and smoked reindeer steak (the menu has evolved since its conception).

When Hullberg took the meatball idea to a Swedish food manufacturer, they laughed at him, asking "What do you mean IKEA? Why do you want meatballs?' Now, of course, the meatballs—barely tarnished by their horse-meat scandal—are a critical and beloved part of the Ikea shopping experience, and the retailer even sells frozen bags of them for customers to take home.
· IKEA's Path to Selling 150 Million Meatballs [WSJ]
· Ikea Breakthrough Lets You Test Furniture Before You Buy [Racked]
· Horse Meat Found in Ikea Meatballs: Sales, Appetites Killed [Racked]