Product Design

The IKEA Bowl That’s Accidentally Setting Food on Fire

June 26, 2017

One morning two weekends ago, Stockholm resident Richard Walter was sitting on his porch eating grapes. Walter put his grapes inside a Blanda Blank bowl, a seemingly generic stainless steel basin from IKEA that retails for roughly $4 in the States. “Simple,” “practical,” and “without any unnecessary elements,” boasts IKEA designer Anne Nilsson of her concave container.

Walter turned his back for a second on his bowl of woody fruit before he got a whiff of an odd, unsettling perfume. He mistakenly believed this odor was from his neighbor’s barbecue. Imagine his surprise when he realized that his bowl of grapes was, in fact, on fire.

Concerned the incidence was just a one-off and that no one would believe him, Walter decided to try replicating the scenario with a tiny scrap of paper. He recorded and posted this process to Facebook. Rather incriminatingly for IKEA, the video, which has attracted roughly 110,000 views as of writing, depicts the scrap of paper burning upon contact with the bowl.

The video's since launched an internal investigation within IKEA. So far, the company’s offered public reassurances that it safety-tests its products rigorously, and that this report about the Blanda bowl is the first documented one of its kind.

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IKEA representative Emil Eriksson told Swedish newspaper The Local that the particular situation Walter ran into was the result of a bizarre confluence of many different, competing factors—the bowl’s position in relation to the sun, the concentration of the heat on that specific point on the bowl, the fact that Sweden was experiencing a heatwave that weekend. It’s a blue-moon occurrence, according to IKEA, which makes the risk of this happening to other customers quite low.

If the company's claims don't offer some small comfort, look at it this way: This bowl’s hidden capabilities certainly present some opportunities for culinary innovation. I’m reminded of last week’s headlines about pizza cooking in the Arizona heat, without the aid of an oven or traditional heating chamber. If you’ve run into this problem with your Blanda bowl, certainly let IKEA know—unless you’d like to use your Blanda bowl as a de-facto cooking device, toasting your grapes under the sun.

Ever run into this problem with IKEA's Blanda bowl? Let us know in the comments. (No, really.)

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Diana Di Donigav
    Diana Di Donigav
  • marcella from italy
    marcella from italy
  • DMStenlake
  • hj
  • Windischgirl
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Diana D. June 30, 2017
The thumbnail linking to this article, in your newsletter, used the image from this article instead: "(Mostly) Aunt Aggie’s Christmas Pudding" :)
marcella F. June 30, 2017
apparently it's a common physics phenomenon related to anything concave and shiny. Any other shiny metal bowl put in that position could have behaved like this. It's not Ikea's failure - or else all the reading glasses and magnifying lenses around would be failures as well. What I do think though is that Ikea should put a warning on it, reminding people of this simple law of physics.
DMStenlake June 29, 2017
I'm betting the bowls will now sell like crazy! Everybody has to try this. Maybe handy on a camping trip!
John June 29, 2017
Yeah! I want one now!
hj June 28, 2017
Did they really blame "the shape of the sun"? (!)
Mayukh S. June 28, 2017
haha! of course not. thank you for the catch.
Windischgirl June 26, 2017
Visited the Museum of Failure in Helsingborg, Sweden, last week. They had an IKEA display but stated that IKEA has not admitted to any failures in any of their products. That may have to change, now...
Mayukh S. June 26, 2017
ah! i'm so jealous you got to go there! what i would give to see a real life box of colgate's failed frozen dinner line...
Rachel June 26, 2017
Just finished visiting the vasa museum in Stockholm. The museum is one of the best I've ever been to... the reason for its existence in the first place.... epic fail.
Windischgirl June 26, 2017
LOL. I had to google it to convince myself it was true. Sadly, it was.
Windischgirl June 26, 2017
Rachel, they did feature the Vasa at the Museum of Failure. I do agree the Vasa Museum is pretty impressive. Swedes seem to know how to do museums right!
Windischgirl June 26, 2017
First comment refers to the Colgate Frozen Dinners. (((shudders)))
Rachel June 26, 2017
Didn't make it to Helsingborg this trip but it totally deserves billing at the museum of failure. Will put it on my list for next time I am in Sweden :)
Robert A. June 29, 2017
IKEA admits to failures all the time, otherwise you wouldn’t see recalls on their website from time to time.
smccassell June 26, 2017
Eating on the sunny deck drinking wine. Sun went through the glass and burned a hold in the table. Nice Scandanavian teak table still retains the burn marks. Sun and table top setting can be dangerous.