IKEA, the Swedish furniture company famous for their affordable, assembly-required home goods as well as their delicious meatballs, came under fire recently after adding “Jerk Chicken” to their cafe menu in some U.K. locations.
Jerk chicken is a Caribbean dish in which the meat has been dry-rubbed or marinated with a specific set of ingredients (often including allspice, Scotch bonnet peppers, brown sugar, and garlic), then grilled.
IKEA’s jerk chicken was served with a side of white rice and peas, which caught the attention of some on social media, who castigated the furniture giant because traditional “rice and peas” doesn’t actually feature green peas, but kidney beans (or gungo peas) steeped in coconut milk.
This is IKEA’s jerk chicken and rice and peas and no I’m not eating it.
This was as simple as Googling a pic, but pretending to be a diverse company was more important than getting it right.
Yet another example of a brand with no diversity around the table. IKEA…
It’s literally white rice and garden peas @IKEA did you even Google it?! If you were confused, beans are called peas in the Caribbean. This is what happens when you try and cash in on a culture with no input from that culture whatsoever.
A website called Phresh even published a short article about the dish, titled, “Ikea’s Jerk Chicken With Rice And Peas Is Your Cultural Appropriation Nightmare Come To Life.”
“The Swedish [furniture] company took what is probably the most [popular] Jamaican dish [and], well… white washed it. The uninspired version featured white rice and green peas (WHITE RICE & GREEN PEAS!!),” the author wrote.
Some on social media defended IKEA:
#Ikea don’t owe anyone any apology. I stand with Ikea. They said Jerk chicken and rice and peas NOT rice and beans which we Jamaicans call peas. How many Jamaican chefs try other culture food and add twist to it? This look way better than some Jamaican food I’ve seen.
Extremely problematic take: Ikea should be able to serve something they call “jerk chicken” without getting canceled for it, even if that dish is bad.
Despite some social media defense, it seems the pressure was too much as IKEA has issued a formal apology and removed the item from their menus:
IKEA is a Swedish home furnishing company with a much-loved food offer. We take inspiration from many countries around the world and have always worked to combine different flavors and ingredients to offer delicious, healthy and affordable dishes. … We’re aware that our new jerk chicken, served with rice and peas has created some conversation and in some cases offense. Our intention was to create a dish for many people to enjoy but we appreciate that we may have got it wrong. We apologize and we are now relooking at the dish.
IKEA is the largest furniture retailer in the world, but their food is also quite popular. According to Forbes, in 2016, IKEA made $1.6 billion in food sales alone.