IKEA outlet offers Black employees watermelon, fried chicken in special Juneteenth menu

fried chicken and ikea
It's been called "intensely problematic". Photo credit: Getty Images.

A US branch of Scandinavian furniture juggernaut IKEA has scrambled to apologise after a company-wide email acknowledging Juneteenth encouraged employees to eat from a special menu that included foods like watermelon and fried chicken. 

June 13 National Independence Day, known more commonly just as 'Juneteenth', is a holiday in the US commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans. 

Known as a time to celebrate African-American culture, it was first recognised as a federal holiday by President Joe Biden this year. 

Businesses across the world have honoured the occasion, but some efforts have been more successful than others. 

An Atlanta branch of IKEA curated a menu for employees for the day which has since been dubbed "intensely problematic". 

According to an email to employees acquired by TMZ, the branch wished to "honour the perseverance of Black Americans and acknowledge the progress yet to be made". 

"Look out for a special menu on Saturday which will include: Fried chicken, watermelon, mac'n'cheese, potato salad, collard greens, candied yams." 

Almost the entire selection of foods have historically been used to demean African-Americans through stereotyping.

An employee, who wished to remain anonymous, told a local news outlet: "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 during the slave time."

Another employee also reportedly told TMZ none of the panel of workers who created the menu were Black. 

Twenty employees reportedly called in sick under protest. 

Upon contacting the IKEA branch, a spokesperson told TMZ they "sincerely apologised" for the incident and quickly changed the menu.

"We value our co-workers' voices and changed the menu after receiving feedback that the foods that were selected are not reflective of the deeply meaningful traditional foods historically served as part of Juneteenth celebrations," they said in a statement.

"We got it wrong and we sincerely apologise."