Living a meat-free life on the go just got a little easier.
After test runs in select cities, Burger King rolled out its plant-based burger collaboration with Impossible Foods, the Impossible Whopper, late last week in Tampa Bay.
Impossible Foods released the Impossible Burger a few years ago. It’s a completely meat-free patty that’s supposed to look and taste just like the real thing. And, for the most part, it does. Side-by-side, it’s difficult to tell the difference at first glance. Both have the same gray-black hue and signature char marks.
Taste-wise, some might say it’s even too close to meat for comfort. Especially when slathered in mayo and ketchup, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. A lot of it comes down to texture, with the Impossible being a bit firmer and the original crumbling more when you take a bite.
Nutritionally, the two burgers are almost identical. The Impossible Whopper will save you about 30 calories and a gram of saturated fat. It’s got nine more grams of carbohydrates and one more gram of sugar. With 25 grams of protein, the Impossible Whopper has just three grams fewer than the original. Additionally, an Impossible Burger also doesn’t contain the same antibiotics or hormones as ground beef. At $5.29 a sandwich, the Impossible Whopper will run you $1 more than the original.
Burger King received some flack for cooking the burgers on the same grill it uses to cook beef and chicken, but a separately heated option with no mayo is available on request.
The Impossible Burger really stands out with its carbon footprint. It uses 95 percent less land and 74 percent less water, while creating 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than a beef option.
People nationwide have been so excited about the launch, whole offices are buying up Impossible Whoppers.
We did just that, and grabbed some regular Whoppers for comparison. Here are what some Tampa Bay Times employees had to say:
Food critic Helen Freund: At first glance, you can’t really tell the difference between the Impossible and regular Whopper. The Impossible has a lot of good char and the patty was a little firmer than the regular burger, which definitely had a meatier taste and a more meat-like texture. Both were good, and if I was in a hurry and hungry I might not have even noticed the difference. The vegan burger just tasted like a crappy fast food burger dressed in way too much ketchup.
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Features reporter Christopher Spata: I’ve eaten many Impossible Burgers. They are all adequate. The key to enjoying them? Distance yourself from real beef for so long that an 80 percent accurate hamburger facsimile becomes perfectly good enough. Definitely do not, as I did today, take a bite from an O.G. Whopper seconds before trying the Impossible Whopper. You will notice some essential Whopperyness is missing. I always thought this Whopperyness was the flavor of flame broiled. A colleague suggested I was actually missing the taste of grease. Okay, fine. I want it, and the Impossible Whopper ain’t quite got it. Otherwise it’s perfectly good enough.
General assignment reporter Zachary T. Sampson: The Impossible Whopper looked like a burger, felt like a burger and tasted like soup. I left with the taste of minestrone, vaguely horrifying in context but ultimately not so bad.
Investigative reporter Rebecca Woolington: This tasted way too much like hamburger. It also looked too much like hamburger. And the texture was too much like hamburger. I’ve been a vegetarian for 10 years, and I was unable to finish it.
Photographer Scott Keeler: The Impossible Whopper was a bit dry. I think if you add enough ketchup to anything, it hides all of the sins. The regular Whopper had that charcoal grilled flavor. I’ll still order the Filet-O-Fish sandwich at McDonald’s.
Enterprise reporter Claire McNeill: On first bite of the Impossible Whopper, slathered as it was in mayo and melty cheese, I didn’t feel like I was missing the meat. It still had the chargrilled flavor and approximate texture of the regular burger. But then I went back to the real Whopper and it felt right, like every Monday night BK cheeseburger I’d eaten as a kid. The meat was crumblier and had more umami flavor. Nostalgia wins out.
Data reporter Connie Humburg: I thought the texture was right and passable as meat, but it doesn’t have the fire-grilled flavor and juiciness of the beef.
Editorial assistant Kelly A. Stefani: The Impossible Whopper tasted like beef. One bite of the original and all I could taste was grease. The bun on the original was soggy, but the Impossible bun wasn’t. Better taste and texture.
Newsroom services manager Kirk Simpkins: I think the Impossible is almost identical to the meat Whopper, but the patty texture is slightly drier.
Editorial writer Elizabeth Djinis: I will say the Impossible Burger grew on me, but my initial reaction was that it tasted like the worst parts of meat — emphasized. My first bite had this initial gamey taste that I feel like most burgers don’t have, or at least if they do, they blend it with other tastes. If I was a vegetarian seeking a meat substitute, this is good. But for now, I’ll have the real thing.