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.