Within the past few years, companies making plant-based meat have shifted from trying to make passable alternatives to making products so good, consumers can’t tell they’re not from an animal.
Burger King in Sweden is now putting their product to that very test. The chain recently launched a “50/50 menu” to promote sales of its new plant-based sandwiches: the Rebel Whopper and the Rebel Chicken King. According to advertising agency lbbonline, customers ordering off the menu have a 50 percent chance of getting the vegetarian sandwich, and a 50 percent chance of getting a meat one.
The only way they can tell for sure which one they got (unless their taste buds reveal the truth) is to scan a code on the sandwich’s packaging with the Burger King app. They have to input their guess before the app reveals whether they’re eating meat or plants.
The Rebel Whopper and Rebel Chicken King hit Burger Kings throughout Sweden last month after a successful pilot in May. They were originally called the Unbelievable Whopper and Unbelievable Chicken King but abrupted changed to Rebel (perhaps due to pushback from similarly-named Impossible Foods?). The chain has been tight-lipped about where they’re sourcing their new vegetarian options. Over email, BK Sweden’s General Manager Iwo Zakowski would only reveal that the producer of the plant-based chicken and burger patty were based in Europe. So, not Impossible or Beyond. It could be using the Incredible Burger from Switzerland-based Nestlé, though that seems unlikely since it’s already sold in McDonald’s in Israel and Germany.
Sadly I haven’t had the chance to taste Burger King’s new Rebel sandwiches, so I can’t speak to how will they mimic the real thing. If they’re a good substitute, this marketing gimmick could be a smart way to entice hesitant customers to try plant-based options. But if they’re not very realistic, this could spark some backlash for BK, especially on social media.
Regardless, this is an obvious way for Burger King to gather valuable data on its new plant-based offerings. It will get a record of every consumer’s reaction to the sandwiches, and be able to quantify how often people are actually duped by the vegetarian alternatives. I’m not sure if the app offers a section for feedback, but if it does that could help BK optimize the sandwich to make it even more meat-like.
Burger King is betting on meat alternatives around the globe. In the U.S. they’re currently rolling out the Impossible Whopper made with the popular “bleeding” plant-based patty. Just today, Burger Kings in the U.K. began serving halloumi (a firm cheese) burgers after a successful trial run in Sweden. The new 50/50 menu shows that BK is confident that plant-based meat is good enough to attract not only vegetarians but carnivores — so confident they’re willing to put their menu where their mouth is.