Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Is this a thing?

So I was just at IKEA and I came across two separate families there that were some sort of Scandinavian - speaking it with their kids, etc.

Is this a thing? Do local Scandinavians go to IKEA to get meatballs or something the same way that you'll tend to see co-ethnics in restaurants? I just always figured IKEA was a retailer that just happened to preserve Swedish names and a small food store.

It may just be a coincidence - the D.C. area is a pretty diverse place. But that's an awfully big coincidence for the middle of a Tuesday in a furniture store.


  1. "Is this a thing?"

    Yes. You'd be very surprised to hear how many of my friends and acquaintances over here talk about the IKEA meatballs in fairly reverent tones. File under strange, but true.

  2. I've only eaten in IKEA once, and it was in Madrid. I didn't have their meatballs, though; the one in Madrid had quail.

  3. IKEA design has a Scandinavian sensibility so it makes sense that Scandinavians would disproportionately go there. If the children were answering in "Scandinavian" then the families were probably tourists. Immigrant families typically operate with the parents speaking the mother tongue and the children answering in English.

  4. ~But that's an awfully big coincidence for the middle of a Tuesday in a furniture store.~

    The world would be a far more strange place if coincidences like this didn't happen partly because our brains seek out patterns like this to make sense of our surroundings.

  5. There is an IKEA in the place where I'm from, and it had a small Western food restaurant at the end of the long and convoluted display of products on sale. It sold hot dogs, soda, and Scandinavian food. I don't think there's anything unusual with IKEA...

  6. IKEA - retailing self-assembling Scandinavian families sine 1943

  7. I don't think it's a thing, but if it is, I reckon it's a Swedish and not a Scandinavian one. I don't think two Danish families, for instance, would decide to meet up in an IKEA just because of the comfort of understanding what "HÖGSTEN" or "SOLVINDEN" mean. (Plus the Danes cook their meatballs somewhat differently.)

    As an aside, Scandinavia isn't as unified as people often think. Sure, you can put a Swede and a Norwegian together in a room and they'll probably mostly understand each other in their native tongues (or, more likely, they'll just casually switch to English for 100% comprehension). However, it's not like (for example) the Midwest where you can take similar people from Minnesota and Wisconsin and they can likely immediately relate to each other about everything from college football to DMV queues.

    1. Ya I figured - I just don't personally know the difference between what Norwegian and Swedish sounds like so I didn't want to claim to :)

      I do, however, know it was Scandinavian of some variety!


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