On April 1, 2019, Burger King announced that they were going to let vegans, vegetarians, and other plant-based food enthusiasts “have it their way” when they debuted the Impossible Whopper.
Plant-based burgers? At Burger King? Sounds likes a well-timed April Fools joke. Except, it’s not.
Burger King teamed up with Impossible Foods, a California-based start up that makes plant-based meat replacements that “delivers all the flavor, aroma and beefiness of meat from cows.” According to their website, the special ingredient that gives Impossible Burgers the beefy flavor is a molecule called heme, which is essentially what makes meat taste like meat. The food scientists at Impossible took heme from soy plants and inserted it into a genetically engineered yeast and created one the most realistic plant-based burgers on the market.
According to the New York Times, Fernando Machado, BK’s chief marketing officer said, “in the company’s testing so far, customers and even employees had not been able to tell the difference between the old meaty Whopper and the new one.”
For some reason, Burger King chose the St. Louis Metro Area to test the Impossible Whopper before releasing it nationally. Luckily for me, St. Louis is the city I call home, so I went to the nearest BK on my lunch break to see if the burger is worth they hype.
When I pulled into the Burger King drive-thru and placed an order for the Impossible Whopper, the employee taking my order asked if wanted to add bacon or cheese to my burger, which I thought was hilarious. Wouldn’t bacon kind of defeat the purpose of eating a plant-based burger? Because I wanted the full meatless experience, I declined the bacon and cheese.
I drove around to the pick-up window and paid for my food. From placing my order to receiving my food, the process only took about two minutes.
After getting the food, I rushed back to work, so I could finally dig into my burger.
When I took the Impossible Whopper out of the bag, the first thing I noticed was the smell: it smelled exactly like a regular ole Whopper. When I unwrapped it, nothing looked out of the ordinary. The bun was fluffy and coated with sesame seeds. I lifted up the bun and saw that the Impossible patty was topped lettuce, pickles, sliced onions, ketchup, and onion and had the same sear marks from the same flame broiling conveyor belt Burger King uses to make their regular Whoppers.
Finally, I took a bite. My first reaction was that the Impossible Whopper tastes exactly like the real thing. Granted, I haven’t actually eaten a regular Whopper in probably a decade, but it tastes pretty close to how I remember. Let’s just say that if someone gave me an Impossible Whopper and told me it was a regular one, I’d probably believe them.
With that being said, the Impossible Whopper isn’t reinventing the wheel or anything. It’s still a fast food burger and you might want to rethink ordering one if you’re looking for a healthy fast food option.
According to NBC, there’s only a thirty calorie difference between the Whopper (660 calories) and the Impossible Whopper (630 calories). Though Burger King boasts that the Impossible Whopper has significantly less cholesterol than the Whopper (which is true – with the Impossible at 10mg and the original at 90mg), it hardly makes up for the fact the sodium count for the Impossible Whopper surpasses the Whopper’s at 1240mg. That’s about half of your recommended daily sodium intake, and that’s not even including a side of fries!
All in all, I think Burger King is pretty smart for adding the Impossible Whopper to their menu. Though they’re not the first fast food joint to add plant-based patties to their menu (White Castle introduced Impossible Sliders in 2018 and Carls Jr. introduced Beyond Famous Star burgers in early 2019), they are one of the largest fast food chains in the world and will have a greater influence on whether or not competitors like McDonald’s will start adding meatless burgers to their own menus.
The Impossible Whopper makes vegetarian-friendly food seem more accessible than ever before. However, make no mistake: the Impossible Whopper isn’t just for a time-crunched vegetarian who wants a quick bite to eat. It’s for people who are skeptical of vegetarian diets because they think meat substitutes aren’t realistic enough. It’s for people who care about the well being of the planet and animals and want to make more ethical food choices, but can’t quite give up beef yet. It’s for people like me who tried out vegetarianism for a few weeks but couldn’t stop dreaming of chicken nuggets and burgers.
Bottom line: if you’re in the mood for a Whopper, give the Impossible Whopper a try. Is the Impossible Whopper a healthier fast food choice? No. Is it a more ethical choice? Yeah! And you can’t even taste the difference.
Would you try the Impossible Whopper? Let us know in the comments!