Swedish meatballs: they're the jewel in the crown of IKEA outings and potluck dinners, equally delicious served in a pool of gravy or on a skewer. They have a unique flavor all their own — a little sweeter than your average meatball, with the perfect meaty crunch. I know this description has your mouth watering (mine certainly is), but before you run straight to your friendly neighborhood Swedish meatball vendor, allow me to share a very upsetting revelation. Are you sitting down? Swedish meatballs are apparently not actually Swedish, according to Sweden's official Twitter account... and the Internet has a lot of feelings about it.
To be totally fair, I can't say that anyone — IKEA or otherwise — ever told me explicitly that Swedish meatballs really hail from Sweden. When an item's description tells me that it hails from a certain place, I'll naturally believe it, but I never actually did the research to confirm the link between this particular yummy snack and the Scandinavian country with which we all associate it. Luckily, we have Twitter to set us straight on years of misleading labeling.
On May 2, Sweden's official Twitter account posted a confession about the meatballs, confirming once and for all that the Scandinavian nation can't take credit for them. The tweet urges people to "stick to the facts" — which will be a lot easier now that we know the facts.
Not surprisingly, Sweden's confession sparked quite a conversation on social media. Some wondered why it had taken so long for the country to come clean on this hot topic.
Others wanted to dig deeper into the true history of Swedish meatballs, which Sweden's Twitter referred to in their original tweet, but didn't explain in depth. Turkey is actually responsible for conceiving of the beloved dish. The recipe used today — which, according to the official web site of Sweden, includes a mixture of beef and pork, milk, white breadcrumbs, egg, onion, and allspice — is derived from one one that King Charles XII brought back to Sweden from Turkey in the 1700s.
Members of the Twittersphere had questions.
Others celebrated the symbolism of two countries coming together for something delicious. A shared culinary history could bridge the gap between otherwise vastly different cultures, which is welcome news in a world that often seems marked more by difference than by similarity.
And as you probably would expect, there was a reasonable share of Twitter melodrama associated with this revelation too. Let this be a lesson to all of us that you should never mess with people and their Swedish (or Turkish) meatballs.
Whether you're taking this news well, enraged at the idea of all the years you've been misled, or simply wondering why Sweden's confession would ever impact your life in the slightest, you have to admit that this truth bomb gives us an interesting opportunity to consider just how much we actually know about the parts of our food and culture we take for granted, and to think about questions we could ask to gain a better understanding of these things. It's easy to believe what we're told — or what the names of items like Swedish meatballs indicate to us — but taking things at face value can keep us from truly educating ourselves and from connecting with people! And since connecting with people over food is pretty much the best, I'd say we really missed the mark on this one.
Only time will tell if IKEA changes their advertising or if we ultimately change the way we talk about Swedish meatballs altogether. In the meantime, I'm sure Sweden feels much better now that they've come clean.