22 May 2017

Exactly when did Ikea chicken wings stop 'meeting customers' satisfaction'?

It’s the biggest chicken-related food news to hit Singapore since KFC’s Chizza.

On Friday, Ikea posted on its Facebook page:
"Dear fans, thank you for all your feedback. We are aware that our chicken wings have not been meeting our customers’ satisfaction recently, so we have decided to stop selling them temporarily from May 23 so we can improve on it."
May 23?

That’s tomorrow!

That means today is your last chance to eat Ikea’s famed chicken wings that have not been meeting customers’ satisfaction recently.

After this, the wings will be replaced with $1 chicken tenders. If you’re not interested in eating chicken, I understand Ikea sells other stuff too.

Like hot dogs and meatballs — but no horse meat.

Rumour has it that Ikea also has a significant side business hawking pieces of furniture with weird umlauted names like they’re metal bands or something.

Still, people mostly go to Ikea to complain about the food.

What’s unusual is that the company is actually doing something about the complaints.

I mean, people have been complaining about local TV shows for decades, but Mediacorp still keeps churning them out.

OK Chope!, anyone? Not Najib with a B, apparently.

But Ikea’s Facebook post also raises a few questions.

Like why announce on Friday that you’re going to stop selling the wings on Tuesday? Why not stop selling them immediately?

If you know your food sucks, why inflict it on your customers for four more days?

I suspect there are people who have read the news and want to taste for themselves how bad the wings really are to be in the news.

First World problem?

The thing is, Singaporeans used to love Ikea chicken wings. Then, like the MRT, something went wrong in the last few years.

They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

As Ikea said, "our chicken wings have not been meeting our customers’ satisfaction recently".

But exactly how recently is "recently"?

Founded in Sweden in 1943, Ikea has been in Singapore since 1978.

So, yeah, the post could be a little more specific in terms of the time frame.

But one Facebook commenter has helpfully narrowed it down:
"The story years back was that there was corruption on the old supplier, then they changed to a new one, we (my family, even my young daughter age five or six then) noticed that ever since they changed to the new supplier, the standard dropped."

Involving chicken wings?

Yes, corruption.

Involving chicken wings.

That, surprisingly, is not fake news.

The guy who supplied chicken wings to Ikea between 2003 and 2009 ran "afowl" of the law by bribing an Ikea food services manager and in 2011, was jailed four months and fined $180,000 for corruption.

What a bad egg.

Presumably, after the supplier was caught, Ikea had to find a new supplier as it would be difficult to supply chicken parts from prison.

And it seems the wings haven’t been the same since.

You know what they say, forbidden wings taste the yummiest.

That was like eight years ago.

And only now Ikea decides to stop selling them temporarily so that the company can "improve on it"?


Perhaps the wings can be marinated in some special corruption sauce.

Hey, anything is better than the Chizza.

- Published in The New Paper, 22 May 2017

8 May 2017

My Star Wars Run-neth over: PM Lee outgeeks Canadian PM Trudeau

I saw a guy running in a gold bikini top at the Star Wars Run on Saturday night.

Yes, a guy.

In a gold bikini top.

As if Return Of The Jedi wasn’t already ruined by those mutant teddy bears, the Ewoks.

Now my hetero adolescent fantasies of Princess Leia in the slave girl outfit from that movie have been destroyed for good too.

Thankfully, the guy wore a T-shirt under the bikini top. So I didn’t have nightmares that night.

I also saw many Jedi and Sith wannabes running with lightsabers, which were not only cumbersome but also potentially hazardous to other runners.

And you thought people with selfie sticks were annoying.

Some fans even ran in full costume — helmet and cape et al. I had a heat stroke just looking at them.

I was already sweating like a pig on Dagobah in my Under Armour Star Wars Trooper compression shirt — that is, if there are pigs on Dagobah.

I wish I had a gold bikini to run in. At least that seems more Singapore weather-appropriate.

The run was part of a three-day event at Gardens By The Bay celebrating 40 years of Star Wars, a 1977 US movie that grew into a worldwide cultural phenomenon and merchandising juggernaut.

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted a photo of himself wearing R2D2 and C3PO socks with the tweet: “These are the socks you’re looking for. #MayTheFourthBeWithYou #GuerreDesÉtoiles”

Guerre Des Étoiles is French for Star Wars.

The geek is strong with this one.

But Mr Trudeau wasn’t the only world leader who jumped on the Star Wars cantina bandwagon.

On Saturday, our own PM Lee Hsien Loong posted photos of “Sabertrees” at Gardens by the Bay with the caption:
“Star Wars fans know ‘May the 4th’ as Star Wars Day, and this year @gardensbythebay joined in the fun with Star Wars-themed events.

“I couldn’t make it on the 4th but managed a #jalanjalan at the Gardens last night.

“The Supertrees have been converted into spectacular ‘Sabertrees’, and look like giant lightsabers pointing to the sky!

“Happened to capture the moon in my photo too, or at least, I think it’s a moon. :)

“The festivities end tonight — just in time for the Revenge Of The Sixth, so do catch it if you can. And May the Fourth be with you!”

No Padawan he is.

Besides the obvious Revenge Of The Sith pun, notice how PM Lee also subtly worked in a “That’s no moon” reference without using the actual quote from the original movie.

I’m sorry, Mr Trudeau, but you have been out-geeked by our prime minister. Even without mismatched droid socks.

Wait, did PM Lee just reference the Sith? Does it mean he has gone to the dark side?

Well, he did recently tell Singaporeans that to stay ahead of the competition, “you must make sure you steal somebody else’s lunch”.

That sounds pretty dark side-ish.

If he had joined the Star Wars Run, I wonder whether he would have chosen to be on the light or dark side.

On the one hand, PM Lee is a member of the People’s Action Party, also known as the Men in White, which suggests the light side. On the other hand, white is also the uniform of the stormtroopers, who are on the dark side.

Oh, the conundrum!

Now I understand what Anakin and Luke Skywalker went through.

As for me, I went to the dark side because the T-shirt is nicer.

How long did it take me to finish the 10km run?

In less than 12 parsecs, of course.

According to Strava, it was a personal record. (But then I started using Strava regularly only this year.)

Who needs a gold bikini?

- Published in The New Paper, 8 May 2017

1 May 2017

Income Eco Run half marathon: What's my excuse this time?

It's always something.

For the Marina Run, I was recovering from an injury.

For the 2XU Compression Run, it was blisters from running without socks.

For yesterday morning's Income Eco Run (formerly NTUC Income Run 350), it was diarrhoea.

Or at least, that was what I thought it was.

As I approached the Stadium MRT station, I wanted to go to the toilet there but changed my mind when I saw other runners heading towards it because I didn't want to have to wait in line.

I convinced myself that I could hold it and use it as motivation to run faster to the finish line.

My priority was still hitting my target time.

But just a few minutes later, I regretted not stopping at the MRT station as I felt like I was going to explode.

When I ran past the entrance of Gardens by the Bay East, I saw what looked like a sign for the men's restroom.

So I veered off course only to see the sign was actually an "i" for information counter.

But I took a chance and ran farther in and was overjoyed to find a toilet. It was empty too. So I didn't have to wait in line.

I hurriedly went into a stall and let go.

Very loudly.

As it turned out, I didn't have diarrhoea after all. It just was a huge wet fart.

I quickly wiped myself and returned to the race.

A few minutes later, I felt the pressure in my bowels again. Dammit!

Whether it was diarrhoea or a wet fart, I couldn't let go because I didn't want liquid coming out of my ass while I was running.

And I still had half the half marathon to go.

This time I forced myself to keep it in.

I believe these were the 2 hour 30 minute pacers (with the balloons) who overtook me.

Guess what this girl in the clown wig was giving out.

She was giving out energy chews and I was delighted to get this old-school ice pop from her buddies.

It was sweet and refreshingly cold and really hit the spot.

I didn't even care how it might affect my digestive problem.

The sight of these 2 hour 45 minute pacers behind me gave me hope that I could still make my target time of 2 hours 40 minutes.

According to my Runkeeper and Strava apps, this was my best half marathon time.



Imagine how much better my time would've been if not for the toilet break.

There appeared to be fewer participants than in the 2XU Compression Run, so the Income Eco Run felt less like a clusterfuck.

But this whole "eco run" idea seemed rather half-heartedly executed compared to the Green Race where no disposable cups were used and the finisher's medal was made of wood.

Whereas the Income Eco Run medal is only "partially made from recycled materials".

Still, the Income Eco Run was the most pleasant experience of the three half marathons I've joined this year.

Well, except for the wet farts.


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