Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

How SWEDE it is!

IKEA just got here, but the blue-and-yellow home-furnishings giant is ubiquitous... and no, that's not the name of one of its sofas

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Here's a game you can play this weekend while you're mired in traffic on Kenaston Boulevard.

A few years ago, someone came up with a quiz that combined people's knowledge of novelist J.R.R. Tolkien and retail juggernaut IKEA. The rules were pretty straightforward. From a list of 30 or so words, players had to figure out which were characters from Lord of the Rings and which were products from IKEA.

Wanna give it a go?

1. Faramix.

2. Grundtal.

3. Grima.

4. Akurum.

5. Sultan Hogb

Few businesses have become as much a part of the modern-day vernacular as IKEA. Not only does the Urban Dictionary classify the company's acronymic tag as a verb, meaning to buy something that requires assembly, but a recent census reported that 258 people in the United States list Ikea as their given name. (It turns out that Ikea is the 19,385th most popular child name south of the border, one place behind Gurmail and one place ahead of Inc.)

Now that Winnipeg finally has an IKEA to call its own, we thought this would be an opportune time to take a look at just how pervasive the 69-year-old firm has become in everyday life.

What we discovered is that it's becoming increasingly difficult to turn on the TV, pick up a book or (burp) enjoy a drink without hearing or reading the word "IKEA" at some point.

(As for the quiz, numbers 1 and 3 are Tolkien characters, while 2, 4 and 5 can be purchased at your friendly neighbourhood IKEA.)

IKEA on the tube...

-- Where's an elevator when you need one? During an episode from the first season of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Leonard struggle to carry an oversized box from a "cheap Swedish media centre" up the stairs to Penny's apartment. Later, when Howard lends a hand trying to put Penny's furniture together, he mocks the included manual, stating, "This is why Sweden doesn't have a space program." (Actually, they do.)

-- In a Friends episode entitled "The One With the Fertility Test," Rachel goes to a spa for a massage. Rachel lies down on the massage table face-down. Her masseuse, who turns out to be Phoebe, enters the room. In an attempt to shield her true identity from Rachel (we know, it's complicated), Phoebe adopts a thick Scandinavian accent. Rachel asks Phoebe what her name is. Phoebe replies, "It's a normal Swedish name -- Ikea."

-- According to Simpsons Wiki, a website that chronicles every minute detail about The Simpsons, SHòP is a furniture outlet in Springfield that, with its yellow and blue motif, looks suspiciously like a certain big box store. Here's another clue: SHòP's mascot answers to Allen Wrench.

-- As seen on the Fox series Futurama, �Ä-kea, or Pi-Kea, is a corporation that specializes in "build-it-yourself products." Furniture from �Ä-kea is delivered by a robot who remarks, "Enjoy your affordable Swedish crap" after dropping off his parcels.

IKEA on the page...

-- In Chapter 4 of Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played With Fire, main character Lisbeth Salander moves into a new apartment in Stockholm. The next morning, Salander goes on a shopping spree at a nearby IKEA. Among the dozens of items Salander picks up are two Karlanda sofas, five Poäng armchairs, a Lillehammer bed, two Bonde bookshelves and a Rosfors kitchen table. Salander's bill tops out at just over 90,000 kronor, or around $13,200, not including delivery.

-- Where's my Playboy... I mean, my sales flyer? In Chuck Palaniuk's novel Fight Club, the unnamed protagonist, played by Edward Norton in the movie version, states, "The people I know who used to sit in the bathroom with pornography, now they sit in the bathroom with their IKEA furniture catalogue."

IKEA on ice...

If you need a stiff one after a long day of shopping for kitchenware, here are a couple of cocktails you can make. The first calls for Saft Fläder, an elderflower syrup sold at IKEA stores that is used in juices, jams or in this instance, something a bit more potable.

IKEA Elderflower Gimlet

75 ml (21/2 oz) vodka

20 ml (3/4 oz) Saft Fläder

30 ml (1 oz) lemon juice

Pour ingredients into shaker and add ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass.

Allen Wrench

30 ml (1 oz) banana liqueur

30 ml (1 oz) coconut rum

30 ml (1 oz) coconut vodka

120 ml (4 oz) pineapple juice

Pour ingredients into shaker and add ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass.

-- Recipes from drinknation.com

 

IKEA on the big screen...

In the indie hit (500) Days of Summer, Tom (Joseph Gordon Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) go on a date to IKEA. First, Summer pretends to serve Tom his favourite meal in a display kitchen. Next, they try out a double bed. But that comes to a close when Tom looks up and says to Summer, "Darling, I don't know how to tell you this but there's a Chinese family in our bathroom."

IKEA on ice, part two...

He shoots, he Skors... When Daniel and Henrik Sedin joined the Vancouver Canucks for the 2000/2001 NHL season, the twins were placed on a line with fellow countryman Markus Näslund, with whom they also share a hometown -- ñrnskldsvik. It didn't take long for a sports scribe from the Wet Coast to dub the trio the IKEA Line.

IKEA on the web...

IKEA Heights is a web series filmed inside an IKEA store in Burbank, Calif. using hidden cameras. The show, a soap opera of sorts, has been embraced by critics, but not by IKEA higher-ups. Last year, a company spokesman went on record stating, "We see the humour in it... but unauthorized filming in our stores isn't a good thing."

IKEA in song...

-- One of the biggest hits at the 2012 Dublin Fringe Festival was a two-act opera called FLÖTPÑCK, as performed by Ulysses Opera Theatre. The show's libretto was littered with IKEA product names and answered the age-old question: Have you ever felt the urge to burst into song after building a bookcase?

-- The Ikea Band is a six-member troupe from the Philippines, a country with 7,107 islands and zero IKEAs. The Ikea Band's Facebook page identifies the group's sound as "Rnb, Pop, Jazz, Fusion, Dance, Latin, Jazz Funk, Pop Rock." But there is nothing to indicate whether the Ikea Band also performs songs by another Swedish export, ABBA.

-- "Long ago in days of yore,

It all began with a god named Thor,

There were Vikings and boats

And some plans for a furniture store."

So begins Ikea, a ditty by American singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton. A few years ago Coulton performed Ikea at the grand opening of an IKEA store in Brooklyn. Winnipeg shoppers weren't as lucky on Nov. 28, when IKEA unveiled its new digs on Kenaston Boulevard.

"Unfortunately, Jonathan won't be able to make it to Winnipeg as he'll be on tour then," Coulton's manager Drew Westphal told us last week, via email. (Ikea appears on Coulton's Smoking Monkey album, as well as his greatest hits package, JoCo Looks Back.)

By the way, Coulton isn't fibbing when he sings "I'm sorry I said IKEA sucks, I just bought a table for 60 bucks."

"Jonathan has a bunch of IKEA furniture in his house to this day," Westphal says.

david.sanderson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 1, 2012 E1

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