Leave it to IKEA to make bug burgers and vegan hotdogs look delicious.
Everyone knows that IKEA is a wonderland of surprisingly stylish flat-packed furniture and trendy and useful housewares. I can't go into an IKEA store without wanting to leave with new mugs and bowls, even though the ones I have at home are fine. And now IKEA is turning its trend-forecasting powers to food to create the "fast food of the future."
IKEA has a "secret innovation lab" in Copenhagen called Space 10, which is basically a giant mad scientist lair, but for the forces of good. IKEA uses the place as a research hub to explore projects for "future living." A previous project involved 3D printing an actual, edible meatball.
We already love IKEA's meatballs, but IKEA says the future of fast food is — or should be — sustainable and healthful. Those 3D-printed meatballs were part of an experiment with alternative ingredients like insects, algae, and lab-grown meat. And according to Food & Wine, the newest project out of Space 10 involves rethinking fast-food favorites so they're still delicious, but healthful and sustainable as well, so they're good for people and the environment.
Last week IKEA's Space 10 proudly unveiled a "Dogless Hotdog" made with dried and glazed baby carrot, topped with beet and berry ketchup, mustard and turmeric cream, roasted onions, and cucumber salad. It definitely does not look like a conventional hotdog because the bun is made with spirulina. That means it's bright green, full of iron and beta-carotene, and has more protein than a normal hotdog. It looks like an art project, but I would definitely try it. Spirulina is already a major trend in smoothies, grain bowls, and many of the "unicorn" foods on Instagram. Using it for hog dog buns sounds great.
Another standout was IKEA's "Bug Burger," which is an effort to convince people to try insect protein. Insects are a sustainable source of protein and millions of people all over the world eat them, but a lot of people in the U.S. balk at the idea because of the "ick factor" of eating insects.
To show that insect food is nothing to be afraid of, IKEA created a "Bug Burger." Each patty contains 100 grams of beetroot, 60 grams of parsnips, 60 grams of potatoes, and 60 grams of mealworms. The resulting burger is dark red and distinctly meaty-looking. It grills up nicely and IKEA served it with relish, beetroot and blackcurrant ketchup, chive spread, and microgreens.
IKEA's goal with fast food of the future was to "change people's minds about food" and "to inspire them to try new ingredients," and making visually stunning, delicious versions of familiar foods is a pretty great way to do that.
Unfortunately the current menu is just a research project, and IKEA does not yet intend to put bug burgers in its stores. But it's an interesting look at what the future of food might be, and sometime in the near future we really might be able to buy spirulina buns and mealworm meatballs at IKEA.
Would you try IKEA's fast food of the future?