The Impossible Whopper

 

We visited a Burger King near home last month in search of an Impossible Whopper or two, but the local chain didn’t offer it. (We got two tacos instead: not enough meat, but at least they were crispy.) The burger chain went national with its Impossible Whopper last night, so we picked up a couple for lunch today.

This being Burger King, they’ve gotta grill it and impart that familiar sear to the patties. It’s not bad, with the lineup of the usual Whopper ingredients adding texture and crunch: onions, lettuce and pickle; tomatoes for some bulk; soft poppy-seed bun with mayonnaise. This is not a burger that we’ll learn to crave, but if fast food is your only option or you just want to hack a craving for beef, you may enjoy this more than a black-bean burger or some other “healthy” it’s-not-meat option of the month. Hopefully it’s on the menu to stay.

The processed-meat industry is going to change a lot in the next few years, with the growth of plant-based alternatives. The Impossible Burger currently sits atop of the pyramid of beef substitutes in terms of taste, texture, cooking performance — overall quality.

The Beyond Burger lags on these factors, according to some reviews and our own opinion: too pasty in texture, like old meat, and the color is off. Most people wouldn’t eat a beefburger that color, unless perhaps they were thoroughly convinced it had been cooked or basted in beet juice. For all that, Beyond Burgers taste fine (in our opinion). Nestle’s Awesome Burger seems also to be lagging, though we expect all these offerings to continue to improve and more competitors to enter the field as “plant meat” displaces the real thing in the next chapter of the Plastic Age. Not to mention cowless milk.

We don’t own any shares of Beyond Burger (BYND) but have been looking at them since the company’s underwhelming secondary offering last week. The valuation looks rich to us, as it did to the wary private-placement investors, so we’re going to continue to wait and watch for now. Maybe Impossible will go public at some point, and we’d be predisposed to favor it based on product quality.

Lastly, it seems de rigeur to point out in reviews of these alt-meat foods that they don’t satiate the demands of “hardcore vegans,” because they’re still heavily processed. It’s true. But that market isn’t large enough to interest national chain restaurants and distributors with bigger-than-niche ambitions, or their investors. The economics of growing alt-meat in labs just makes too much competitive sense to fail, at this point, and nothing precludes the possibility of achieving pure(r) ultra-vegan-ality for new products aimed at that slice of the market. Going big with these offerings out of the gate will benefit all sorts of dietary preferences, palates and budgets, and the sooner the better. #science


More:
Thrillist review
Lab-grown kangaroo meat
IBD’s take

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