Fried chicken and watermelon: IKEA’s Juneteenth menu proves tasteless

An IKEA in Georgia has come under fire after an attempt to celebrate and honour black Americans backfires with a tasteless menu.

The Atlanta IKEA store made a sincere attempt on June 19th to celebrate Juneteenth, a day of commemoration for the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

However, it went awkwardly wrong after the menu came through with fried chicken and watermelon – items that alluded a little too closely to negative racial stereotyping.

ikea juneteenth
Image: News Express US

An email acquired by TMZ was addressed to the IKEA employees, which read “to honour the perseverance of Black Americans and acknowledge the progress yet to be made, we observe Juneteenth on Saturday, June 19, 2021.”

Progress is yet to be made, indeed. The original menu contained fried chicken, watermelon, mac n cheese, potato salad, collard greens and candied yams – food items that have historically been used to demean black Americans.

Watermelons, for example, have been particularly problematic in black American history.

One anonymous employee told Atlanta’s CBS 46, “you cannot say serving watermelon on Juneteenth is a soul food menu when you don’t even know the history. They used to feed slaves watermelon”.

“It caused a lot of people to be upset,” the employee went on. “People actually wanted to quit. People weren’t coming back to work”.

This much is true. Up to 33 workers refused to show up to work that day in protest, causing the store’s manager to apologise via email.

“I truly apologise. The menu came off [offensive]”, it stated.

An IKEA spokesperson also issued the Independent with the following statement: “To honor the day, a lunch menu was created with the best of intentions, including recommendations from black co-workers. We got it wrong and we sincerely apologize.” 

Further controversy arose from the fact that none of the employees who were behind the creation of the original menu were actually black Americans.

“None of the co-workers who sat down to create the menu, no one was black”, the aforementioned employee said.

ikea juneteenth
Image: Memegenerator

Meanwhile, the store manager told CBS News that a new, revised menu would be released the following day.

This updated version included collard greens, cornbread, mashed potatoes and meatloaf.

Sunday’s menu included fried chicken, mac n cheese and collard greens.

It seems like Ikea still doesn’t quite get it. Kudos for trying, though.