IKEA's Test Kitchen Unveils Bug Meatballs and Algae Hot Dogs

Kasper Kristoffersen, SPACE10
Kasper Kristoffersen, SPACE10

In 2015, IKEA released a series called "Tomorrow's Meatballs" visualizing what the Swedish chain's signature delicacy might look like 20 years in the future. The campaign wasn't meant to be taken too seriously, with concepts like "The 3D Printed Ball" and "The Lean Green Algae Ball." But now, one of the more out-there dishes from the series, a meatball made from bugs, has been reimagined into a real-life dish. As Grubstreet reports, mealworm meatballs and burgers are two of the items IKEA's Space10 test kitchen has developed for its menu of the not-too-distant future.

"To change people’s minds about food, to inspire them to try new ingredients, we can’t just appeal to the intellect — we have to titillate their taste buds," a Medium post from the lab reads. "Which is why we’ve been working with our chef-in-residence to come up with dishes that look good, taste good, and are good for people and planet."

"The Neatball" swaps out the traditional beef and pork for more sustainable ingredients. The first version features mealworms, which pack 20 percent of your daily protein in 100 grams. The second Neatball iteration, made from root vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, and beets, is completely vegetarian. And in case those recipes stray too far from your comfort zone, they're served with the same mashed potatoes, gravy, and lingonberry sauce that come with the classic meal.

Bug meatballs aren't the only futuristic foodstuff IKEA is cooking up in its R&D lab. Their experimental menu also includes "The Dogless Hotdog" with baby carrots, beet and berry ketchup, and mustard and turmeric cream on a micro-algae bun; "The Bug Burger" with a patty made from four-fifths root vegetable and one-fifth darkling beetle larva; and the "LOKAL Salad" featuring greens grown hydroponically in the lab's basement. And because no meal would be complete without dessert, they've also concocted a nutrient-dense ice cream made from herbs and microgreens.

Sadly for adventurous eaters, these items won't be appearing on menus in IKEA stores any time soon. They're strictly conceptual dishes meant to demonstrate what a modern, sustainable diet could look like. But that doesn't mean that IKEA isn't serious about branching out beyond meatballs—last year, the company hinted at the possibility of opening stand-alone cafes.

IKEA's vegan hot dog.
Kasper Kristoffersen, SPACE10

IKEA burger made from bugs.
Kasper Kristoffersen, SPACE10

[h/t Grubstreet]

Necco Wafers and Sweethearts Are Making a Comeback—Whether You Like It or Not

Via Tsuji via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Via Tsuji via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This past Valentine’s Day was a little less sweet without Sweethearts conversation hearts gracing store shelves, but there’s some good news on the horizon. According to CandyStore.com, Necco-brand candies are coming back—well, some of them, at least.

The future of classic candies like Sweethearts conversation hearts, Necco Wafers, Clark Bars, Mary Janes, and Sky Bars has been uncertain ever since the New England Confectionery Company went out of business last year. People sent online retailer CandyStore.com thousands of emails asking what would become of their favorite confections, so the website’s staff painstakingly “tracked down the fate of all the Necco candy brands,” according to a blog post.

Spangler Candy Company, which acquired a couple of the Necco brands, appears to be keeping its promise of bringing back Necco Wafers, Sweethearts, and Canada Mints. However, the new owner is still testing recipes, and the time frame for their return remains undetermined.

“We are committed to making sure these brands meet consumer expectations when they reenter the market," Spangler CEO Kirk Vashaw told the candy website. "Doing it right takes time."

Only one of the original Necco brands, Candy Buttons, is currently available for purchase under new ownership. There is also a good chance that several other candies—including Clark Bars, Sky Bars, Mighty Malts, Haviland Thin Mints, Slap Stix, and various flavored chews—will be returning in the future. The rights to many of these brands were bought by different companies, some of which are now experimenting with production methods. For instance, the CEO of the Boyer Candy Company, which now owns Clark Bars, said recent attempts to produce the candy have resulted in Clark Bars “coming out in the shape of hot dogs,” which is not ideal. (Though they reportedly “taste fantastic.”)

As for Mary Janes and Squirrel Nut Zippers: those candies remain in greater peril. The Mary Jane brand is still for sale, and there’s some confusion about who owns the Zippers trademark. The latter can still be bought from CandyStore.com, but sadly, Mary Janes have become nearly impossible to find. “Panic buyers of Mary Janes are really glad they did,” the website states. “Their secret stash is the best place to find them.”

For more details about the future of your favorite Necco candies, check out CandyStore.com’s blog post. In the meantime, you can still find some of the discontinued candies on Amazon and other online retailers, albeit for very high prices.

Henri, an Adorable Bulldog from North Carolina, Is Named Cadbury's Newest Easter 'Bunny'

iStock.com/freddiesfabdesign
iStock.com/freddiesfabdesign

Bunnies are cute and all, but they've got nothing on Henri: an 18-month-old English bulldog with lots of rolls and lots of love to give. As WDSU News in New Orleans reports, Henri has won the honor of starring in Cadbury's new "Clucking Bunny" commercial in the lead-up to Easter, right as the chocolate creme eggs start to make their annual reappearance.

A bulldog in bunny ears
The Hershey Company

He was selected from a pool of more than 4000 pets that sported bunny ears and posed for pictures as part of Cadbury's first-ever "Bunny Tryouts." His owners, Kathie and Tim Santillo, of Wilmington, North Carolina, dressed him in an adorable Easter bunny costume that included an oversized pink bow and fluffy white tail. In addition to the fame and Instagram follower boost that Henri is likely to get out of this contest, his owners will also receive $5000—and some of that money will presumably go towards toys for this very good boy.

"When people see the iconic Cadbury Clucking Bunny commercial, they know Easter season is here," Katrina Vatter, a member of the Cadbury U.S. marketing team, said in a statement. "For the first time in over 35 years, we are honored to expand our tradition and welcome Henri as a new character to the commercial."

Cadbury also announced the names of the 19 pets who qualified as semi-finalists. They were mostly cats and dogs, but there was also a goat, a horse, a bearded dragon, and a llama named Conswala, who donned rainbow-colored bunny ears. Naturally, an actual bunny also made it to the final round. Check out some of the semi-finalists' photos below.

Perhaps it's for the best that a dog—and not a cat—was chosen. In the film industry at least, cats are a little more challenging to have on set because they're sensitive to the noises around them. "I think of cats as walking and living satellites," Dawn Barkan, who has trained animals for movies like Meet the Parents and Inside Llewyn Davis, told Mental Floss in 2014.

"Their ears are picking up every sound, and their bodies are picking up all the vibrations around them, so they're constantly tuning in to everything that's going on around them, and they're sensitive. So if there are loud noises or a lot of commotion, and the cat hasn't been desensitized to that, they're going not going to be comfortable, whereas dogs are a little bit more easygoing."

[h/t WDSU News]

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