SEARCH:  
Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Friday 4th March 2005

IKEA Canteen


I have to confess, the thought of going to Ikea for the food was a bit daunting. Presumably, after picking out the meal I wanted to eat in the showroom, I'd then be directed to a warehouse where I'd have to roam up and down the aisles for several hours trying to locate the raw ingredients. After that, I'd take them home, unpack them in my living room and then sit there, scratching my head, wondering how on earth I was supposed to turn them into a three-course meal using nothing more sophisticated than elbow grease and an allen key.

Needless to say, the reality was far, far worse.

My wife and I didn't want to risk being crushed to death by a mob of Chavs on a home-improvement binge, so we decided to visit our nearest Ikea in Brent Park on a Wednesday lunchtime. All I can say is, if it's any more crowded than this on a Saturday afternoon, Ikea is a Hilsborough waiting to happen. When Britain's largest branch threw open its doors in Edmonton last month, five people ended up in hospital, but that seems like a lucky escape in retrospect. Last year, 33 million Britons visited an Ikea store and it's estimated that one in ten Europeans were conceived in an Ikea bed. The founder of the chain, Ingvar Kamprad, is now the world's richest man, with a personal fortune of $53 million. By my calculations, that means he can now afford some decent furniture.

The queue for the canteen snaked all the way back to the showroom, with an alarmingly high number of Homer Simpson look-a-likes salivating at the prospect of all those Swedish meatballs. (No, I'm not talking about the serving staff.) After standing in line for fifteen minutes, my wife and I finally found ourselves opposite a refrigerated sandwich unit which, you won't be surprised to learn, was completely empty. I was tempted to ask when the stock was likely to be replenished, but I knew from experience that the herring sandwich I was after would have to be ordered from another branch and then picked up from the Brent Park collection point in 10 days time.

In the end, I bowed to the inevitable and ordered a plate of meatballs. I was asked if I wanted "sauce" with them and, possibly unwisely, said yes. Some biscuit-coloured gunk was then ladled on to my plate, accompanied by some chips and peas. What flavour was it supposed to be? Indeed, what animals had been slaughtered to create the meatballs? Tasting both provided no clue, but for anyone forced to eat at their local branch of Ikea I'd advise against the sauce. It had begun to congeal before I'd even made it through the checkout. When I said I'd need an allen key to get through my meal I thought I was joking, but apparently not.

So what accounts for the Ikea phenomenon? Is it just the fact that it offers incredible value for money? That must be part of the explanation, but it can't be the whole of the story since you can also buy cheap furniture at Courts, MFI and Bedrooms Direct. The conventional wisdom is that, by offering Scandanavian home furnishings at knock down prices, it appeals to the aspirational working class. In other words, what Sir Terence Conran did for the middle classes, Ingvar Kamprad has done for the masses.

But I'm not sure this is right. My theory is that Ikea's popularity is due to its classlessness. It appeals to everyone, from the SUV-driving yummy mummy who's building a playroom for Freddie and Leticia to the fitness instructor who's just bought a flat in Romford, and the reason is precisely because it's not associated with any particular demographic. The very fact that it's so European makes it's impossible to classify. The food may be no better than a bog standard motorway service station, but what do you expect from the Volkswagen of the furniture world? The meatballs, like the furniture, might lose their universal appeal if they were any less flat.

[ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Twitter @NiranjanAjit @tgemiles @NickJTimothy No, but the first to contrast somewheres with nowheres. I took it to be a rif… link  (4 hours ago)

BEST OF THE WEB

The Warlock Hunt by Claire Berlinski - the-american-interest.com
Is classical liberalism conservative? by Yarom Hazony - jerusalemletters.com
The Implosion of Western Liberalism by Patrick Lee Miller - quillette.com
The Eton of the East End - Daily Mail
The reactionary temptation by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
The book that scandalised New York intellectuals by Louis Menand - newyorker.com
To understand Britain today, look to the 17th Century by Adrian Wooldridge - economist.com
The crisis in France by Christopher Caldwell - city-journal.org
A Visit to Michaela School by Patrick Alexander - prospectmagazine.co.uk
Why parenting may not matter by Brian Boutwell - quillette.com
Trump Establishment's Cultural Significance Explained by Michael Wolff - newsweek.com
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum by Dominic Cummings - dominiccummings.wordpress.com
Putin's Real Long Game by Molly K McKew - politico.com
The Flight 93 Election by Publius Decius Mus - claremont.org
How the education gap is tearing politics apart by David Runciman - theguardian.com
What's wrong with identity politics by Graeme Archer - conservativehome.com
Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan - nationalreview.com
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs - newstatesman.com
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker - edge.org
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood - theatlantic.com
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray - quadrant.org.au
Beware the soft Stalinists of the campus by David Aaronovitch - thetimes.co.uk
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter - conservativeteachers.com
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win - youtu.be
Corbyn's first seven days - theguardian.com
Corbin's cabinet chaos by Darren McCaffrey - news.sky.com
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons - gq-magazine.co.uk
Inside Westminster's free school - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn's politics are a fantasy – just like Alice in Wonderland by Tony Blair - theguardian.com
Robert Conquest obit - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that - news.stv.tv
In defence of free schools by Toby Young - standpointmag.co.uk
 

BLOGROLL

Andrew Lilico
Andrew Neil
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Normblog
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Slate
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone
 

COLUMNISTS

AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
 
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.com


  • IMdb Page on the film