Je craque!…pour le Daim

If you want to see a what a human head looks like when it explodes, there’s no reason to waste your money on tickets to the latest Mel Gibson movie.

Just take me to Ikea.

At first, it seems the shopping day is going to be a lot of fun as you prepare for the big trip, flipping through that cheery Ikea catalog featuring handsome Scandinavian families in sun-splashed Ikea homes: making dinner in their BRANJELLËENA kitchen, happily working away at their SKÅRI LARIKINGG desk, and tucking the kids in for the night between their FØRSKYNNE sheets.

daim.jpg

And for those of us not fortunate enough to: 1) Be unbelievably handsome with strong Nordic features, 2) Live in a sun-dappled townhouse with kids, perfectly-arranged by size, weight and material, and 3) Have every kitchen utensil, perfectly arranged by size, weight and material—in other words, for those of us who live space-challenged, in petite Parisian apartments, the appeal of folding tables, chairs, silverware, etc..etc… holds a definite hypnotic appeal.

(We who live by the rule that you can’t bring anything into your apartment until you get rid of something else. Just flipping through those shiny-fresh catalog pages is enough to make you start drooling about all the things you’re going to buy to fill up all that newly-free space.)

So you make a list of all the fun items in the catalog you’re going to buy, like sets of nesting storage containers so you can organize all your breakfast cereals and display them by size, weight, and material in your Ikea dream kitchen and you can finally replace the glassware that’s been irreparably-ruined by Parisian calcaire because you’re too lazy to wash yours by hand.


Stuck in traffic for eternity on your way out of Paris, you finally make it to the suburbs and get to the megastore. You hurl one of those crumply yellow plastic shopping bags over your shoulder from the big bin, trudge up the stairs, and follow those eerily-compelling blue arrows glued to the floor, directing you where to go. And you start shopping.

But something’s funny. Everything doesn’t quite look or feel the same way as it did when you pored over the catalog at home. Where are those attractive people with Nordic features wearing khakis in sun-filled rooms? The people shopping here are kinda scary. (So much for the stereotype that all French people are gorgeous and chic. We ain’t in Paris out here, folks…)

And isn’t that HYDDIUS, the inexpensive yet fashionable sofa you admired in the catalog, over there? But you raise it up a bit and wonder if one is really supposed to be able to lift an entire piece of furniture that size with one arm. There’s just something odd about that. And you ask yourself, “Do I really want to sit down for breakfast every morning at a table called RËKKTUM?”

When you’ve had enough and start to craque, you park your cart full of KRÄPP and you decide you’re going get a bite to eat because you’re hungry, dehydrated and almost desiccated, your face might make a double for Maria Shriver.
(Maria, please…eat something…anything!)

So you woozily enter the cafeteria and grab a tray. You skip PRÄNSSER, the plate of dried reindeer. Wisely pass over the INFEKKSHüN salad. And settle on the meatballs. Which look pretty appealing in the glossy photo above the cooks. But when the pimply-faced young man hands the plate over the steam table to you (shouldn’t all that steam be exfoliating to him? Er, on second thought since he’s standing over the pot of meatballs, maybe that’s not such a good thing to think about right now…) and as the irregular balls tumble and slither across the plate, the grey-pink cubes of salmon just down the line start looking a bit more appetizing as you pass, and you’d like to dump the meatballs in favor of the overcooked salmon pieces, but it’s too late and you suck it up. You head to the register and the bill comes to 18.65€.

ŸYKKES!

So much for all that money you’re saving on those WYPPØUT RAYNNFØREST napkins and CHYNA KWÅLLYTEE juice pitchers in your KAART.

You return to the store, heading downstairs where all the good stuff is. Things that you never really knew you needed. (Really. Does anyone really want square plates? Please people…enough already with the square plates.) And is there anything worse that crummy cookware? Those BRAYKSTMØRROW whisks and that PEECEÖVSHEET frying pan that a toddler could easily fold in half isn’t really such a good deal when you heft it. (But yes, it sure looked like a good value in the catalog.)

After an hour more, my nerves are completely shot and just when I think I can’t last one more second in there, I make a beeline for the check-out ‘hall’. For some reason, I am always behind the person that didn’t get the price code on the four screws for their 398 piece CHYLDLÅBBOOR kitchen they’ve just rung up. Or the lady before me decides that she didn’t really want the 99 centime STINXX candle anymore and they have to call the manager, who no one can find, to remove it from the receipt.

But on my last and final trip to Ikea, I discovered something delicious amongst the madness: the Daim bar.

There’s an expression they use in France, that you see a lot in advertising—Je craque!

Which translates to I crack!, and refers to something that you fall in love with. And that’s how I felt when I cracked off that first bite of le Daim.

Peel back the bright-orange wrapper and once you bite through the rather bland milk chocolate, you sink your teeth into the thinnest layer of not-completely-crisp caramel. My first thoughts were that as soon as I pulled my teeth apart, every one of my precious fillings was going to come out with it. But no. Whoever came up with this bar was a genius: the caramel gently releases from your teeth and the delicious chewy bar softens in your mouth like a warm puddle of buttery caramel.

I began by breaking off the tiniest little piece, saying I’d just have a taste and save the rest for later. Then I bundled it up and put it away. Then, a few minutes later, I pulled it out again, reasoning that I can have another bite. There’ll still be half leftover for later.

Right?

But a few stressful minutes later…okay, what the heck. Why not have just one more chunk. I’ll leave the last bite for later.

But within a few minutes I think, oh heck, I’ve almost polished the whole thing off anyways, so why not just finish it off.

Then it’s gone. And all you’re left with is an empty wrapper.
And the terrible truth sets in as you’re out in the parking lot, trying to squeeze all that useless STÜFF into your car, while you curse and swear you’ll never go back to Ikea again.

That you’re probably going to end up back here in a few months. Looking at the same things which looked so promising in the catalog, trolling up and down the same aisles. You’ll grudgingly have lunch again in their cafeteria and ponder whether you should upgrade your dinner plates to square ones in hopes of being cool. (Don’t. They’re the acid-washed jeans of dinnerware.)

But at least they’ll have those Daim bars. And as far as I’m concerned, they’re perhaps the only reason to go back.

But next time, I’ll skip the meatballs.

And the rest of the DRËKK.

61 comments

  • David,

    I am laughing so hard and so loud right now!Isn’t it wonderful how the Ikea experience can be shared by people all around the world?!;-)

    Being a native Scandinavian I know all about Daim! I still remember the day they started selling them in a doubble size pack.O’what Joy!!!
    The best way of eating it is to let the chocolat slightly warm up a little between your hands before yoy take the first bite.

    But I will warn you-nothing is more disapointing than an old Daim…Yuk!If it ever happens to you you will know it!

  • David, you MADE MY DAY!

    FØRSKYNNE sheets! I’m dying.

  • Laughing so hard! Love your Swedish!

  • David, this is my first comment on your blog. I figure if something makes me laugh out loud AND wet my pants, I must give kudos!
    Gawd, that was a funny post.

    You and your readers may be interested in another piece of Ikea genius by internet songwriter Jonathan Coulton: http://www.jonathancoulton.com/mp3/Ikea.mp3

  • LOL; excellent one.
    they add a just cut wood smell to their catalogs; maybe that’s why all the things there look appealing.
    there’s a dispute about the quality of the products (i’ve bought none of them, luckily); yet their marketing is genius, considering the size of some parisian apartments.

  • I am deeply jealous. I wish I’d written that.
    (I buy their humungous boxes of cheap candles and tea lights.)
    The lingonberry jam is a pretty darn decent substitute for cranberry sauce, too.

  • You are so great. This is so funny. I hate Ikea, but I love you!!! Ha ha ha…

  • Definitively a masterpiece! God… the meatball guy “steam exfoliation” made my day.

  • My husband, who is Danish (but is often confused with Swedish or Dutch), will get a total kick out of this post!

    Didn’t they have the Daim torte in the cafeteria? You really have to go back just to try it.

  • I know of your aversion of Hershey’s, but their Skor bars come somewhat close to Daim. I’d rather buy Skor at my local Duane Reade pharmacy in New York than going to New Jersey in the free Ikea shuttle and suffering for hours. If you think the French don’t look good at Ikea, just think of how New Yorkers look at Ikea!

  • At the risk of truly making your head explode by offering yet another down-on-my-knees compliment, I must. That was genius.

  • Toooo funny! Pity our house is full of DREKK!

  • DAIM, you are one funny DUUD.

  • Soooooo funny! Another great one!

  • I got hooked on the Daim bars here and they have the little nugget Daims too. Yum! I buy them to put on ice cream somehow they never make it to the ice cream.

    Here in GZ the Chinese customers can be seen sleeping on chairs, beds and sofas and even sitting in the displays in the window when you come into the store… gives a new meaning to trying out a bed I guess. The bathroom displays had to be protected with a cover of plexi glass and signage was put up, not to use the toilet it is just a display! EWWW!
    It truly is an interesting trip to people watch in the kitchen gadget aisle too!

    Food I am hooked on is Daim bars, the Choko Soft toffee rolls (remind me a little of rollos in US but better)Chinese chocolate I have had is awful so I am really happy with the Marabou and the Daim for eating.
    The Lingonberry Jam with homemade Swedish meatballs.
    The Cloudberry Jam is awesome warmed up and drizzled on vanilla ice cream.
    We are hooked on the herring, it makes for a nice quick breakfast with a knackbrod and a hard boiled egg.

    Maybe you can get a side job naming IKEA product your names make more sense than their names.

  • Love your descriptions! I was at Ikea this afternoon and bought a Pishoch toilet paper holder, a Pflem tissue box, and a Toejam shoe rack.
    Did you know the US Ikeas are being “earth friendly” by charging for shopping bags? How many Sheepoh entertainment units and Branerott Entertainment Units are put in landfills after falling apart a decade after purchase?
    I still love the place and nothing beats the shrimp open face sandwich and the salmon salad in the restaurant or the cinnamon buns.

  • When I lived in France, we used to substitute Daim for Heath Toffee Bars in my mom’s recipes, I think Clotide also has a cheesecake with them or something.
    I really wanted to say, though, that I just made the salted butter caramel ice cream, which has to be the best, most brilliant concoction ever. I always thought my homemade ice cream were sort of sub-par, but it seems that is no longer the case. My mother got a pint and is already calling asking for more. I look forward to trying more from the book!

  • Truly a global experience. (I think I have a FØRSKYNNE duvet.)

  • I want you to write the IKEA catalogs ! Isn’t it amazing how you spend so much of your hard earned cash, when all you ended up with is tea lights and storage containers . Great post.

  • that was great!!
    my personal favourite thing about ikea is how they all have the yellow brick road of shopping (at least the couple i have been to..) where they sort of have a marked path you are supposed to follow gauranteed to trek you past every department just in case you forgot there was something you couldn’t live without… though somehow i have missed the daim… if i am unfortunate enough to find myself in ikea land once again, i will have to remember the silver lining..

    cheers,
    kate

  • As my dear departed brother said one busy Saturday in the Berkeley Ikea, as we were being shoved aside while trying to calculate the number of shelving unit components we’d need for our livingroom: “This probably works in Sweden, where people are polite.

  • Such a hilarious post!

  • Winegeek: I presume you know about his Flickr song. Each time I watch it, I practically have tears in my eyes.
    (Although it may not hold the same thrall for those who don’t use Flickr.)

    Charlotte: I’ve seen those Berkeley people in action…but they ain’t got nothin’ on Parisians. Trust me.

    Jennifer & Cybele: Well, the good thing is if you ever get a larger bed, you can just rub the sheets and duvet a few times to make them larger!

  • Wonderfully hysterical David and so universal an experience!
    If you ever find anything that does what it’s supposed to do and looks good too, be sure to buy it in triplicate.
    Rest assured it will not be there when you return.
    They stand by this policy.
    I bypass the disappointing caf and head for the Swedish grocery staples-the Herring toothpast dips are quite nice along with anything LingonBerry.
    Now I can’t wait to try the DAIM!!
    Merci David!

  • Herring Toothpaste Dips – Ooooh my. Just when I was recovering from the Forskynne sheets. I have never had the chance to visit Ikea and until now I was quite looking forward to it. I can however gloat about the fact that Daim bars are on sale in my local garage. No need for me to follow the yellow brick road. GREAT POST:-)

  • I went through a similar experience today at the IKEA in Villiers sur Marne, just outside of Paris. Smoked salmon, an insipid chicken fillet with possibly the worst risotto I’ve ever eaten…

  • Dear god, you’re good. And spot on, I might add. There is food all over my monitor now, from laughing so hard while eating my lunch.

  • I LOVE this post.

  • David…LOVE your Swedish!
    you are the king of the computer.

    now I have to go to IKEA!

    although I must say I do have their large island in my cooking school kitchen, until IKEA I was too poor to have wood and had to have MARBLE!

    which is not bad, except by weight. ( moving up and down stairs!)

  • Stay away from there! Didn’t you know that the whole place is run by satanists? or is it Scandanavians? I forget which.

  • Oh man, you totally NAILED the Ikea shopping experience.

    (that said, I’ve always had a soft spot for the meatballs–although that may change now that I’ll always have your words about exfoliation hovering in my mind as I stand in that line…)

  • David you r 222222222 funny (*)?(*)
    You always make my day*……
    SOO00 David it’s that time again…. to do OUR feet*……really I just keep them up all year**but I am a girl….
    …Love your travels, especially because we are not as of now…boo hoo…..:-(

    “The Great Book of chocolate”……
    I have eaten thru most of it…We should have been dentists. Who knew???
    The back page looks like my sink at night*YUMMM
    smiles,
    Andi*

  • Great post, even though I’ve never been to Ikea store.
    But just to let you know, here they have just launched a new sort of Daim chocolate bar and it’s bigger and thicker and supposedly has more caramel in it.

  • PEECEÖVSHEET

  • David,

    I can relate to this – my girlfriend is always trying to drag me to some out-of-town emporium to I-don’t-know-how drag various items of dubious substance back to my architypal Parisian shoe-box. I stick with Conforama personally – at least when they break as you’re standing on them to mount that ridiculously high curtain rail you haven’t lost a fortune…

    Sab

  • I think I might be your only reader who has never been into an Ikea store. We don’t have them in NZ and I’ve driven past one in Australia. We can buy the small nuggets of Daim though in our duty free stores.

  • The scary thing is, this weekend, I had the Ikea catalog out and was flipping through it.

    As I turned the pages, looking at all the clean, modern (and cheap!) furniture, I starting thinking, “Hmm. Maybe this little tables wouldn’t look so bad in my living room. Perhaps next week I should drive out to Ike…”

    Then I stopped, and put the catalog away. Thinking about it now, I think I outta toss it out.
    Those things are dangerous!

  • What a positively hilarious and spot-on post! I too remember that our last trek out to Ikea was nightmarish, as always, but I actually have a nice “sauteuse” from Ikea that has become my lifesaver for preparing certain vegetables and rice pilaf-style. But I recently dropped the lid of the skillet on the floor, where it crashed into a million bits… So I absolutely MUST replace it! So I unfortunately see a new trip to Ikea some time in the near future… I always dread it, too — but I’ve found that the only manageable time to go is on Thursday evenings, at a low-season time of year. ‘Course, it’s completely unpredictable, so next time I go that may not be the case!

    When I moved into my last apartment, I was determined NOT to get much stuff from Ikea, and we honestly don’t have that much Ikea furniture, but somehow we STILL get sucked back into the vortex at one point or another! They have us brainwashed…

  • P.S. ~ Oh, and I love the Daim bars too — now you’ve got me craving them! But as far as I know, I think you can find them in the grocery stores in Paris, too. If I’m not mistaken, I remember seeing them at a Monoprix recently…

  • Are you in cahoots with Dave Kellet who draws the Sheldon webcomic? Take a look at Sunday the 22nd’s strip http://www.sheldoncomics.com/

    Though nothing beats the Forskynne sheets…

  • My next-door neighbor works for the local IKEA store in Stoughton MA. He works in the peeceovsheet department of kraap that wasn’t made right in the first place and lakks the parts and peeces that are needed for assembly. He also mentioned this to his bosses from Sweden. He also noticed that those who can’t put stuff together,always shop there. He was a chef at one time. I wonder if he made a mistake in his change of career.
    I don’t buy assembly needed furniture if I can help it–just for the computer and from the big US office supply store based in Framingham MA.

    Ever consider trying stand-up comedy?? That was absolutely hylarious!!

  • OMG, I almost died laughing reading this. I always have fun reading your entries! I’ll never look at IKEA the same away again. One thing I have to agree with is that Daim candies are delicious. I like the Daim torte…the last time I must have eaten 4. And bought the torte at the food mart to take home. :) I think I’ll have stock up.

  • What, no West Elm in Paris?
    Notch up from Ikea with the same assembly required format but no food. Drats.

  • This is so funny. Ikeas all over the world serve almost the same food. Weird how everyone seems to have a meatball fetish. You should also try that lovely Daim pie they sell in the Swedish food market. Ready to eat off the freezer.

  • A friend of mine gave me Daim-like sheets of chocolate covered toffee with nuts. We don’t have Ikea in Manila (the closest would be flying to HK just for kraap and such), although Daim is available at the Duty Free methinks. I’ll just stick to destroying my teeth on this freebie pound of candy from her instead. Yum!

  • hey David, I’m commenting for the first time too! If you ever make a trip to Singapore, you will be astounded at how popular Ikea’s cafe is with Singaporeans. On weekends it is impossible to get a parking lot because the queue stretches for miles along the main road turning into the Ikea carpark. I have always secretly thought that the ladies behind the meatball counter were getting free facials too, hahah! But I am a sucker for their meatballs, lingonberry sauce and other specials that are unique to Ikea Singapore (fried chicken wings, fried/curry rice). And how could you have missed their DAIM cake?? I never go to Ikea without having a slice!

  • oh one more question – at risk of sounding like I need to attend cookingware 101, what’s the issue with square plates?

  • Heelarious! I love the names you came up with – DREKK indeed. I always have the same experience -the stuff looks good in the catalogue, and seems so practical, but have you ever tried to actually buy anything there? It ain’t easy. I have a soft spot for some of their kitchenwares and accessories – but I won’t buy anything I can’t carry straight to my car. It’s just not worth it!

  • David,

    I forgot to mention that we actually have Daim icecream back home in Norway! So there is an idea for you…Yummi!!!

    http://www.hennig-olsen.no/artikkellisteaz.aspx?m=21&amid=314

    And by the looks of it they also do an icecream cake with Daim! So no excuses for not visiting Norway now. ;-)

  • David,
    I live within walking distance (ok, it takes well over an hour, but living in a country on the same latitude as Alaska and swimming in freezing lakes when the swimming pools are closed for the summer season a short stroll is nothing) to the world’s first and biggest IKEA. I must admit I’ve never tried cafeteria kottbullar and the majority of my furniture are not from IKEA – don’t tell anyone or I might lose my citizenship. Very impressed by your Swedish, you seem to have grasped the spelling. If you get a serious craving for Daim and cannot face a trip to your local furniture store drop me a line and I’ll send you some. Consider it a thank you for all the joy your entertaining posts bring, although reading your blog always makes me dive into my stash of chocolate ;)

  • I get shipment of Daim candy bar every other month from my family…don’t tell the US post office: the box is often labeled “books and magazines”….!
    I miss not having an IKEA here in SC.

  • Ikea is coming to Ohio next fall…it’s about 2 hours from me (Indianapolis) my friends and I have all been drooling over the stunning Nordic lives of perfection in the catalog thinking we can’t wait to shop there as maybe we too will become stunning and Nordic…maybe I will just get a candybar.

  • Very Funny. I have been following your blog for some time now and though not a blogger, I really enjoy your views and comments.
    I enjoyed the one on the Paris water too.I live in Hamburg and face the same problem. Must have spent lot of money on buying antikalk products.
    If you have Swedish friends, try the home made Daim cookies. They are amazing. the caramel just melts in the mouth. We some times go to IKEA for their 1 euro hotdogs.

  • i was just in Melbourne (Australia) last week for a food show and grabbed a handful of Daims. When i returned home I had one, and was delighted, it took me an internet serach to worked out they were old DIMES! Haven’t had them in years, and they still taste as good as a remember! Now if only i can find them for sale!

  • BRILLNT

  • I agree with you on all points! IKEA lures you into their circle of hell with their lovely catalogues. Curse them! I recently discovered Daims myself and am thinking of taking the hour plus transit ride to an IKEA just to get a bag. *swoon*

  • David,

    I stumbled across your site one day and I have to say, I turned into a fan overnight. This 07 post in particular is absolutely funny! I thought i could relate to it so much since a friend and I just visited Ikea recently, and yes, the catalog was definitely full of deceive. Love your never-ending adventure in Paris…!

  • Oh my god this is hilarious. Thanks, David, for echoing the sentiments of many disillusioned IKEA shoppers! They’re purse-friendly, but even my 100-lb weight was enough to cause an IKEA couch to break! Oh and I love your Swedish!

  • hahahahahah you’re hilarious.

  • *The IKEA post is here ! \o/ *

    ok, I’m just posting this so the people following the “latest comments” pannel would take the occasion to read it if they haven’t :D. I’ve re-read it with such a smile my cheeks hurt !

    punaise de punaise de punaise you are a damn good writer :).

  • Oh thank you for this post. Both for it’s sociological acuity and for it’s LOL-factor.