In 1985, Áramótaskaupið, the annual New Year’s revue on RÚV, included this sketch, about a toll guard’s ambition to combat smuggling of fresh meat into the country, in the guise of migrant birds. The punchline is triggered by a bewildered observer who asks: Couldn’t you just as well go to Keflavík airport to eliminate tourists? —to which the toll-guard enthusiastically replies: Excellent idea! and runs off. As a commentary on Iceland’s not just tough but even passionate restrictions on imports of fresh foodstuff, 29 years down the road, the sketch remains valid.
Costco’s executives recently announced an interest in opening stores in Iceland, if only they may sell wine and import fresh meat. They may not have fully realized what they are up against.