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.
Shop the Story
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.)
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.