The untold truth of IKEA's vegan hot dog

You may not think that you want to get a veggie hot dog at IKEA, but you'd be wrong. There comes a time in all our lives that we are wandering the aisles of IKEA, debating whether to get the VINTERFEST in the shape of a house or of a really tall house. There also comes a time when it all seems too overwhelming and we just need something to calm our nerves, and most likely  our stomachs, too. Shopping at IKEA is exhausting, and the best way to satiate that feeling is with some delicious fare at a furniture store. Why not? So making your way to the bistro, you find yourself staring up at the menu and there is a rainbow colored hot dog up there, except it's not a hot dog. It's IKEA's veggie hot dog and it is a glorious thing.

Over a year in the making, the veggie dog from the Swedish furniture brand is not only delicious, but it's gone viral. Selling out from one country to the next, getting your hands on this decadent dog may be worth the trip to your local (or not so local) IKEA alone. But what makes it so special? Well, lucky for you, we've got the scoop.

IKEA's veggie dog is a healthier, more sustainable option to the original IKEA hot dog

No one is going to tell you that hot dogs are good for you. They're a snack like any other, and you're not going to shed a few pounds by eating one type over another. However, the veggie hot dogs at IKEA are slightly better for you, and way better for the environment. IKEA is always looking for more sustainable resources in its products, and that includes its food offerings. IKEA explains that "simple mathematics tell us that plant-based foods need less resources, less water and less soil to feed just as many, while making a smaller carbon footprint." 

It doesn't hurt that the veggie dog is also incredibly delicious. So why not save the environment and your arteries at the same time? The veggie hot dog is made of plants and thus doesn't need all the mechanization that meat hot dogs need in their creation. Less factory time means less emissions. According to Food and Wine, "the carbon footprint of IKEA's standard meat hot dog is 6.38 kgCO2eq/kg, while the veggie hot dog has a carbon footprint of 1.02 kgCO2eq/kg."

"There is no point in creating a more sustainable option for our customers if it isn't tasty. With the new veggie hot dog, we can inspire and enable customers to choose a plant-based, more sustainable option at an affordable price." says Michael La Cour, the Managing Director at IKEA Food Services. Wise words.

IKEA's veggie hot dog is vegan, but the bun might not be

IKEA's veggie dog is purely vegan in all its glory — but that's only true for part of this exciting new IKEA menu item. 

If you're not into eggs being used in your food, you'll probably want to skip the bun, as there are some reports that they are made with eggs. However, make sure to check with your particular IKEA, as their U.S. PR team told Mashed via email that the American bun's ingredients may very well be vegan compliant. They say they contain enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, sugar, yeast, soybean and/or canola oil, wheat gluten, salt, calcium proprionate (preservative), vegetable monoglycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem (emulsifier), sorbic acid (preservative), and enzymes.

Ingredients do vary slightly from country to country (and in the case of the bun, sometimes store to store), so do make sure to double check if you're a strict vegan.

IKEA's veggie hot dog has a special blend of toppings

Long gone is the world of boring mustard and ketchup. Sure, that's classic and delicious in its own right, but don't you want to up your hot dog game? Well, even though the dog itself is delicious and packed with flavor, IKEA wanted their veggie offering to be even more spectacular. That's where the toppings come in. The IKEA veggie hot dog is topped with pickled red cabbage, spicy mustard, and fried onions. If you're not vegan and want to add another layer of flavor, you can get nacho cheese added as well. 

The result is a flavor bomb that's the perfect blend of salty, sour, and crunch. The main "sausage" of the veggie hot dog is softer than a regular hot dog. It doesn't have that snap of the typical hot dog casing, and thus the added texture notes of the fried onions and pickled cabbage are very much needed, and a perfect compliment.

IKEA's veggie hot dogs are not gluten-free

Bad news for celiacs and those who suffer from gluten intolerance. The veggie dogs at IKEA aren't gluten-free. Wheat protein is a major ingredient in not only the buns, but in the "sausage" of the veggie hot dog as well. Considering how long they took the perfect the recipe and test it, don't expect a gluten-free version of the veggie hot dog any time soon.

The gluten-free options at IKEA aren't insanely plentiful, however, if you're veggie and gluten-free, you can grab a plat of the veggie meatballs. Those are entirely gluten-free, as are many of the soup offerings in the restaurant. One thing to note is that IKEA is very good about labeling the allergens in their food. So if you're not sure if an item is gluten-free, chances are it's labeled — so read closely, or simply ask a member of staff.

IKEA's veggie hot dogs follow the veggie meatballs

Speaking of the veggie meatballs, it was their success that paved the way for the veggie hot dog at IKEA.

One of the reasons the meatballs were so popular was because IKEA didn't compromise on the taste or texture, despite them being plant-based. The sauce is slightly different, being a sort of curry sauce with a sweet potato puree, but it's because those flavors simply go better with the meatless meatballs. IKEA wasn't forcing a vegetarian copycat on its consumers; IKEA was just making an alternative that was just as delicious. Called GRÖNSAKSBULLAR, the veggie meatballs, like their meaty predecessors, are sold in servings of 10 balls.

"No compromises can be made when it comes to taste or texture. People eat because they like the taste and not necessarily only because it has a good cause. We want to facilitate a more sustainable lifestyle by offering delicious food that has a positive impact on both people and the planet", says Michael La Cour, Managing Director at IKEA Food Services AB. Once IKEA was sure that its consumers not only wanted the plant-based versions of its popular meatballs, they went on to see what else they could develop. The hot dog was the natural next step, and here we are.

Some people went all the way to Sweden to try IKEA's veggie hot dogs

IKEA's veggie hot dog was released in 2018. Wait, what? That's right, the original version of the plant-based dog was tested in IKEA's flagship store in Malmö, Sweden. After all, they had to test and see if the general population actually liked what they had created. While we can't chastise IKEA too much for giving its native Swedes the first taste, it did make more than a few people antsy. What if the veggie hot dog never left Sweden? Never left Europe? It was obvious fairly early on that the veggie dog was going to be a hit to IKEA, but there was still time involved in setting up the rest of their IKEAs around the world for the new product. Some people just couldn't wait.

That included this reporter from VICE who flew all the way to Sweden just to try the veggie hot dog. He wasn't the only one, though most of the other traveling customers were from other European countries where Sweden was only a bus ride away. Still, it says something about your products and hype when people actually travel to an entirely different country just to try your veggie hot dog!

IKEA launched veggie options because customers wanted healthier food options

IKEA really takes its responsibility to the environment seriously. It turns out that so do a lot of its customers, since so many restaurants and retailers are seeing success in plant-based foods. According to Marketwatch, one-third of all Americans plan to eat more plant-based protein products going forward. Since IKEA is a business that depends pretty heavily on customers, they decided to give the people what they wanted.

"I think we see in the market that customers are asking more for healthy and sustainable options," Merlijn Crébolder, IKEA's United States food manager, told Fast Company. She went on to say "...that's really a growing trend, and IKEA wants to take a very serious position in that area." And they have. Their records show that the customers are indeed eating what they requested, and even meat eaters are getting in on the veggie dogs.

"We see in our sales figures that we are meeting the needs of our customers that already made the choice of vegan options, but we also see that the classical meat eater is very willing to try this option, because it's really a tasty dog," says Crébolder.

IKEA's veggie hot dog is cheaper than the regular hot dog

You may be surprised when heading to the IKEA Bistro that the regular hot dog will only cost you $1. You may be even more surprised to see that the veggie hot dog is only 75 cents! That's right, it's actually cheaper than the meat version. This strikes strange for a number of reasons. Typically vegetarian and vegan food costs more, seen as premium or simply more expensive because of the produce used. Most veggie-seeking customers expect to pay a little extra than their carnivorous counterparts. However, that's not what's happening at IKEA.

"IKEA's original vision was to create a better everyday life for the many... the same concept applies for food" Managing Director at IKEA Food Services Michael Le Mar told HuffPost, adding that the entire idea is also applicable to its furniture, meant for those who need furnishings, but don't want to go into debt by fitting out their home. It's just how IKEA does business.

You can now buy IKEA's veggie hot dog in packs of 10

For those who can't make it to an IKEA or have been striking out when trying to buy one at the bistro only to find it sold out, never fear! IKEA quickly made its veggie hot dogs available to purchase frozen. This comes after an extremely successful launch in August 2018. Plus there have been numerous customer requests that they be sold in IKEA's Swedish Food Market. 

Well, ask and you shall be rewarded. Named KORVMOJ, the veggie hot dogs are sold in packs of ten, and making them at home will be easy as pie. Though you may find yourself going through a pack awfully quickly. 

The frozen variety started sales in Europe in April of 2019, and will become available in North American and the Asian-Pacific IKEAs afterwards. So keep an eye out and buy the lot of them. They're just that good.

IKEA sold 1 million veggie hot dogs in only two months

If you haven't gotten it by now, the veggie hot dogs at IKEA are extremely popular. So popular in fact that within just two months of being available in Europe, they sold over 1 million of them. That's a lot of hot dogs. Their stats show that one in ever ten customers purchasing a hot dog at the IKEA Bistro was buying a veggie version. 

A lot of this might be relegated to the hype over the news of there being a vegan hot dog in IKEA, sure, but the sales haven't exactly slowed down. If the one million hot dogs didn't impress you, maybe this stat will. Since they were first on sale in 2018, IKEA has actually sold over 5 million veggie hot dogs worldwide.

Want to be part of the 10 million statistic? Go on and get yourself a veggie hot dog. You won't be sad you did!