What in the World—Week of June 13

IKEA created a ‘name bank’
Along with its expertise in building and flat-packing a huge range of distinctively Scandinavian furniture and home products, IKEA is also famous for naming them all. Now its Norwegian arm is offering that expertise as a service, creating a “name bank” for the larger-than-usual number of expectant parents this year. The country is experiencing a baby boom believed to be pandemic related, reports Associated Press. The increase creates a “challenge in finding unique names,” said IKEA. The name bank provides 800 listings taken from IKEA furniture since the company started naming its items in 1948. IKEA names are mostly taken from Swedish towns, lakes and other geographical features, and are sometimes a source of humour for English speakers. Some suggested names, such as Ragnborg, Figge, and Majbritt are very IKEA-like, but there’s also Kim (a 1960 rug), Hank (a 1979 reading light) and Diana (a 1958 armchair). IKEA Norway is promoting the “name bank” in an ad campaign.

McDonald’s trims salad from its menu
Are the salad days over for McDonald’s customers? According to Bloomberg, the burger chain is eliminating salads and other labour-intensive menu items—including grilled chicken sandwiches, the Egg White Delight McMuffin, and fruit and yogurt parfaits—in an effort to speed up wait times in its lines and drive-thru windows. The chain claims to have trimmed 30 seconds off its drive-thru wait times, thanks in part to the cuts. The tactic is a response to the ongoing difficulties in attracting and retaining talent that have swept through the quick-service restaurant industry since the pandemic. Bloomberg reports that restaurant menus have shrunk by more than 10% on average, with nearly 60% of restaurants eliminating items—particularly in the appetizer, dessert, and beverage categories. But Bloomberg says that McDonald’s seems to have gone “farther than some peers” in eliminating better-for-you items with fewer calories.

Meanwhile… Russia opens ‘Tasty and that’s it’
The Russian operator that bought out McDonald’s following its May exit from the country has reopened 15 restaurants in Moscow under the name Vkusno & tochka (“Tasty and that’s it”). The company plans to reopen all 850 of McDonald’s former restaurants in the country under the new name, with owner Alexander Govor saying he plans to invest up to seven billion roubles (about $158 million) in the business. The Guardian says the new menu appears to be an “intentional copy” of McDonald’s, featuring recognizable menu items like double cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets. It also served old packets of McDonald’s hot mustard sauce that had been marked up to erase references to McDonald’s. The new restaurant features the slogan “The name changes, the love remains,” while slogans on employees’ uniforms read “The same smiles.” Not all Russians are lovin’ it, however: One protestor entered the restaurant with a sign reading “Bring back the Big Mac.” He was escorted out.

Apple can’t ‘think different’ in Europe
Apple has lost the right to its famous “Think Different” tagline in Europe, following a legal fight with Swatch. The Swiss watchmaker asked European Union authorities to have Apple’s trademark annulled in 2016, because it had been using “Tick Different” in its marketing. Apple first used “Think Different” in a 1997 ad campaign, but in a 2018 ruling, EU regulators noted Apple’s only examples of using the line were “occasional blips on the Apple website ‘to commemorate famous people or special events,’” reports Gizmodo. “The company hadn’t made use of the slogan in a way that needed trademarking for about a decade, the court found.” Apple filed three counter actions against Swatch in 2021, but those actions were dismissed last week, meaning that anyone can think different in Europe now.

KFC, Subway serving cabbage in Australia
First it was a chicken shortage that left its operators scrambling. And now KFC Australia has been hit with a lettuce shortage that’s once again forcing them to get creative. According to The Washington Post, KFC stores down under are currently using a lettuce and cabbage blend in sandwiches after flooding destroyed lettuce crops in the country. “We’ve hit a bit of an iceberg and are currently experiencing some lettuce supply chain disruptions due to the impacts of the recent Queensland and NSW floods,” said the chicken chain on its website. While some overwrought fans said on social media that the decision “feels like a sign of the apocalypse,” KFC did offer customers the ability to opt out. Meanwhile, Sky News reported that the country’s largest restaurant chain, Subway, has also turned to cabbage to make up for the lettuce shortfall that has caused prices for a single head of lettuce to skyrocket to as much as A$11.99. Needless to say, that’s a lot of cabbage.

David Brown