Burger King is hitting us hard with marketing on the Impossible Whopper; “100% Whopper, 0% beef,” right? So is this great or not?
First things first, vegetarians will want to know that the Impossible Whopper is cooked on the same grill as the actual Whopper. Unlike White Castle, who has separate tools and grills for their non-meat menu items, Burger King wants this to be as Whopper-like as possible.
Unfortunately, that means all of the grill flavor — so technically, not 0% beef. The other burger and chicken products are cooked there, as well. Vegans will also want to know this, and that the mayo is on there. Not that the Impossible Whopper is being billed as vegan, so that leaves us to question only taste, appearance, and texture.
Is the Immpossible Whopper a proper stand-in for the original? A few of us got together to find out. We created a homemade focus group consisting of 2 vegetarians, 1 pescatarian, 4 meat-eaters, and a partridge in a pear tree.
The results were varied, to say the least. You should know that everyone involved had an opportunity to experience their sample without influence from other participants.
Similar feelings and opinions about the Impossible Whopper were true and personal. And everyone who tried the Impossible Whopper has had an original Whopper before. This wasn’t just about testing the sandwich individually, but also in comparison to the grandfather of all fast food burgers.
Additionally, (aside from me), none of the participants knew anything about it except that it was plant-based and that it’s supposed to be a convincing meat-alternative. So what did we all think of this incredibly popular new Burger King menu item?
Granny (Pescatarian): 8/10
Granny was extremely impressed. She’s a vegetarian but she also eats fish at times. As a result of this, she is considered a pescatarian. She never eats beef but it’s only been a couple of years, so she remembers it well.
“I liked the taste because I was raised on the cow.” She said it reminded her of her beef-eating days, and she really liked it. To her, there was little difference. But like we saw in a couple of other participants, her tune changed a little as the chewing went on.
In the end, the flavor changes. Several of us noticed this and we had different ideas of what new taste we were experiencing as the inner flavors were unlocked. Granny said, “It didn’t really taste like a burger, it tasted like whopper grill leftovers.”
Ellee (meat-eater): 10/10
Ellee is a little girl and she is not particular about her flavors. While she has been known to avoid most seafood like it’s the plague, she is always down for a burger. We got cheese on our version of the Impossible Whopper, and she was cool with that.
“I like it, it’s great!” was her only statement as she chowed down on her sample. She even asked me if she could have someone else’s. We split one sandwich up, so it wasn’t her lucky day for that. But I did have to promise I would buy it again for her sometime!
Annabelle (meat-eater): 9/10
Annabelle was seemingly the most impressed, aside from Granny. She has extremely specific taste and has a list of items she won’t touch with a 10-foot pole. When she looked at, smelled, and eventually bit into the Impossible Whopper, she exclaimed, “It is a Whopper! Period!”But like Granny, she noticed something changed as the chewing continued. Her Impossible Whopper went from 100% actual Whopper to, “Um, it has a potato chip aftertaste.” *disappointed face* There’s a reason for that, since (after soy protein concentrate) potato protein is one of the main ingredients in the Impossible Whopper.
Alora (cereal/meat-eater): 1.5/10
Alora was not impressed. While she did give it the old elementary school try, she was not loving it. She said it tasted like something, but couldn’t think of what it was. Until it happened. “It tastes weird, like fries, or potato chips.”
Inevitably, she ended up spitting out the final parts of her Impossible Whopper sample and declaring “Like, I would eat it if someone gave me five bucks.” She’s destined for business success, for sure.
Jessica (vegetarian sympathizer, meat-eater): 6.5/1`0 and 4/10
Jessica is not a vegetarian, but has enjoyed more than enough meatless options to make an educated conclusion about how the Impossible Whopper compares. As a result, she calculated her judging based on two factors.
At first, she believed it looked and tasted “exactly like a “real” Whopper.” She noted that the patty was a bit firm, not juicy like a beef patty would be. For a beef Whopper, she gave it a 4/10. It was convincing at first, but did not hold up to the test.
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As far as vegetarian options are concerned, she entered her verdict of 6.5/10. Having sampled and downright devoured some vegetarian fare that varied from gag-worthy to devour-on-site, she believes that the Impossible Whopper runs fairly with some of the average items. The slight edge in flavor is likely what gives it a little push.
Julie (vegetarian): 3/10
She finished it, reluctantly. Julie is a vegetarian for humane purposes, primarily. She’s tried a bunch of meat substitutes and alternatives, but so far has been very unimpressed. When it comes to the Impossible Whopper, she said, “it’s terrible, I never want to eat it again.”
She mostly liked the toppings and said they were what she tasted the most. It wasn’t until she put them aside and took a smidge of the patty with nothing on it, that she decided “it’s very bad.” With her decision on flavor being “char,” she also was the first to mention the “powdery or something” texture that I also experienced.
It’s worth noting that she and I are the two full vegetarians in this experiment and were both turned away hardcore. She thought it smelled just like burger and had an initial appearance that is virtually identical on first glance. But that’s the end of the line for her.
Bonnie (vegetarian): 1/10
First, let me tell you something. I am Bonnie. I eat and judge and talk about vegetarian options all the time. Because of that, my critique of the Impossible Whopper was sure to be highly critical from the start. And listen, I’m never eating it again.
But here’s why, it’s not because of a little taste test. On that front though, I did literally spit it out. I had the background knowledge of what the Impossible Whopper actually is, the crazy science behind it. And also, I became a vegetarian for a reason, and I do not miss the taste of meat. So, it’s highly likely that I approached this experiment with bias.
This is why I did a focus group, instead of relying on my own taste. However, I truly did not like it. I could immediately see the not meat-like appearance of the patty. It’s true, it doesn’t crumble like some other plant-based products do. But I don’t know, it looked fake, like a toy.
It had the grill marks and the smell, but I can’t imagine how Burger King employees could ever confuse them for the real thing. So no worries there, folks. Any mix up on that would be nothing short of a deliberate substitution, imo.
Moving on, I did think it looked just like a Whopper in the beginning, when fully put together. And when I took that first (and only) bite, all I could think was “plant blood.” Yep, they made it taste like something, but not something I recognize. I have to say, in all my years, I have never tasted this flavor. And like I said, I deliberately taste things. It was weird.
Though it maintained its composure, as I said, it did have an almost powdery sensation to it. Beef has an element of muscle and connective tissues (sorry if that sounds icky to anyone), but this doesn’t. That’s something you just can’t mimic (yet?) and it shows.
In conclusion, I’m thinking it’s a toss-up. While it will naturally appeal to some vegetarians and vegans just because it’s not meat, it isn’t what I’d call a top choice for meat substitute. In fact, Burger King’s Veggie Whopper is a seriously strong contender, in my book, as long as the patty’s cooked right- which is a gamble in my experience.
If you’re all about eating a better diet, let me assure you that the Impossible Whopper does not have you covered. You’re only getting a barely mentionable difference in protein or anything else beneficial. In fact, there’s more sodium, and other stuff that’s not good for you.
As for price? At the store I visited (feel free to DM me if you’re corporate), I paid over TEN dollars for my Impossible Whopper medium meal because I was forced to add TWO pieces of cheese for an additional 80 cents! Since it’s a “large sandwich,” there was apparently no way to add a single piece. “I don’t have a button for that,” they said. Don’t get me going though.
Even without that, it’s still almost a dollar more than the original. Which is totally crazy, imo, because it doesn’t involve an animal, which you’d think would carry more value. I call that the green tax, and it’s not unusual.
If your goal is to save the world one bite at a time, you could be taking valid steps there. Impossible Foods, Inc. is making an effort to help the public understand that by not eating as many cows and other animals, the environment will experience less impact in numerous ways. So grab your Hydro Flask and your metal straw, and enjoy your Impossible Whopper. Comment below if you gave it a shot!
BK’s Impossible Whopper is now available at Burger King stores, nationwide!