I was a vegetarian in college.
I didn’t have any moral reasons for it, I just figured it was an easier way to lose weight and keep my vitals on the up and up. Plus, there was a vegetarian in my psychology class I was smitten with, and I reckoned that had to score me a couple of extra points.
Well, as was my torrid collegiate romance with Becky Schopenhauer, my dietary dalliance with vegetarianism was short-lived. One of the things people don’t tell you about going full veggie is just how expensive it is, and when a four-pack of MorningStar Farms veggie patties costs twice as much as two eight packs of Earl Campbell Hot Link sausages — and you’re a broke communications major — the economics become pretty obvious.
Yet all these years later, every now and then I still get a hankering for a good black bean burger. And while a lot of the more upscale burger joints have their own default veggie alternatives, finding soy patties at the larger fast food chains — your McDonald’s, your Wendy’s, your Steak n’ Shakes, etc. — is usually a lost cause.
Sure, a few chains have experimented with meatless options a la Beyond Meat, but nothing on the scale of Burger King with its newfangled Impossible Whopper, which, as the name suggests, is the fast food leviathan’s signature item, albeit with the all-beef patty eschewed for an Impossible Foods-branded faux burger.
Without getting too scientific here, the secret ingredient in the Impossible Whopper patty is this stuff called leghemoglobin, which is a genetically-modified soy derivative that supposedly provides consumers the most meat-like meatless taste on the market.
Sure, sure, all of this pre-publicity puffery is fine and dandy, but I’m here to give it to you straight. So, is the Burger King Impossible Whopper truly the revolutionary product it claims to be?
Well, not really, but that’s not to say it isn’t a decent fast food burger.
First things first, the patty itself is just too small. It’s maybe half the girth of the standard Whopper patty, and instead of being plump and juicy, this newfangled Impossible Whopper tastes more charred and salty. The patty itself, though, does have a pretty solid smoky flavor to it, and the mouthfeel of the product isn’t as chewy as you may expect. It doesn’t quite capture the “real” beef Whopper taste, but it gets closer to it than you’d think.
And that’s thanks, in no small part, to the rest of the sandwich. It’s pretty amazing how all of the accoutrements — the lettuce, mayonnaise, and tomatoes — gel together to provide an idiosyncratic Whopper taste, despite the lack of a “true” Whopper patty whatsoever. You might have some reservations about the Impossible Whopper, but holistically, it tastes remarkably like its object of emulation.
Despite all of the hoopla over this meatless menu item, it seems a little odd to me that so few have noted that, for years, Burger King has already been serving what is effectively a “veggie Whopper.”
The weird thing is, the overall product reminds me of Burger King’s previous meatless burger, which utilized a MorningStar Farms Garden Veggie patty. Whatever gustatory quirks may be there, it appears are sizzled out in BK’s grilling process — so ultimately, you wind up with an Impossible patty that tastes just a tad too crispy, and a little too generic, for its own good.
Still, it’s an altogether pleasing product that ought to make vegetarians on the prowl for something a tad more filling than a garden salad pretty happy, although I just can’t see it turning long-time, omnivorous Whopper-fanatics into staunch vegans anytime soon.
Regardless, I’m pulling for the Impossible Whopper to be successful, if only to inspire competing burger chains to try their hands at the pseudo-burger fad. I mean, let’s face it — who doesn’t want to live in a world where Arby’s releases its own vegan-friendly Meat Mountain Sandwich a couple of years down the road?
Purchased Price: $5.29
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 630 calories; 34 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,080 milligrams of sodium, 58 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar and 25 grams of protein.