I’m pretty sure I haven’t been in a Burger King since they were giving away The Empire Strikes Back commemorative glasses. But I, and it seems like a lot of other people, are now stopping by the BK Lounge to try the new plant-based Impossible Whopper.
We’ve been watching Burger King roll out its Impossible Whopper nationwide with great interest to see if and how consumers would take to the heme burger. Early results from BK’s market tests showed that Burger Kings serving the Impossible Whopper saw an 18 percent increase in foot traffic over those that did not carry it.
The Impossible Whopper was certainly enough to get me in the door. I honestly didn’t even know there was a Burger King near my suburban Washington home until I Googled it to see how far I’d have to drive to try one.
Thankfully it was only fifteen minutes away, but before leaving I actually called ahead of time to make sure that a) they carried the Impossible Whopper, and b) that they were in stock — Burger King had warned the Impossible Whopper would be available “while supplies last.” They didn’t pick up the phone so I drove up with a little trepidation.
Evidently, I overthought it because the people taking my order had no reaction when I asked for the plant-based burger. A little more than six bucks (the Impossible Whopper is $5.89 plus .50 for cheese) and it was mine. This was a popular order at the time: the customers before me in line ordered three Impossible Whoppers and the customers after me ordered two more.
I asked one of the managers how well the Impossible Whopper was doing and she replied “We sell a lot of them,” complete with a head roll gesture to emphasize the point. She could just be toeing the company line, but given the number of Impossible Whoppers I saw served up, I’m inclined to believe her.
I unwrapped my Whopper and disassembled it to take some pictures. Seeing the patty “naked,” I was surprised at how fake the Impossible patty looked. It was like a large coin with perfect edges. Like an MS Paint drawing of a burger patty.
I reassembled the Whopper and took my first highly-anticipated bite. It was… fine. I mean, it was good, but it’s missing some of the deep flavor complexity and texture of ground beef, and the Impossible patty was a little more dry. It definitely wouldn’t fool a meat eater. I much prefer the Impossible burger served at my local waterfront restaurant. Perhaps Burger King needs more training in the preparation of the patty, so it tastes less mass market.
My thoughts echoed Spoon reader Tom G‘s, who sent us his Impossible Whopper review awhile back. And a favorite food podcaster of mine, Dan Pashman of The Sporkful posted pretty much the same thoughts on Instagram:
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Side by side taste test: original whopper vs impossible whopper. (I’ve had some impossible burgers before, this was my first impossible whopper.) Bottom line: when eaten side-by-side you would never mistake the impossible burger for real beef. It just doesn’t have the same beefy flavor or juiciness. (And my classic whopper came without cheese although I had asked for it, so that one was at a disadvantage and still tasted better.) That being said, the impossible whopper is definitely tasty. I would eat it again. If it’s better for animals and the planet, great. If it helps vegetarians and kosher people experience something closer to a real cheeseburger, great. And if it’s healthier, which it seems to be (at least marginally), also great. Final point: I find the impossible whopper logo’s resemblance to the German flag unsettling.
I asked the customer next to me, an older gentleman, if he liked his. He said he did, but not in a particularly enthusiastic way. When I asked why he ordered it, he said it was for environmental reasons.
And that’s where I net out. I don’t think I’ll drive out of my way for an Impossible Whopper, but if I find myself in a Burger King, I’d get one again. Not because of the taste, but because I feel better about eating a burger that is better for the planet.
Anecdotally speaking, the Impossible Whopper seems to be drawing lapsed customers back into Burger King, so I’m sure the fast-food giant will see a spike in initial sales with the nationwide introduction of the Impossible Whopper. The question that remains now is how many people will come back for another.
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