A few days ago, I woke up to an interesting notification on my phone. It was from the Burger King app, and the company wanted me to taste test the Impossible Whopper. To make it a fair test (and one that enough people would want to take a chance on), the app offered a special deal: one regular beef Whopper and one Impossible Whopper for $7.
For those who haven’t heard of it, the Impossible Whopper uses a patty made by Impossible Foods. There’s nothing new about plant-based substitutes for beef patties, and Burger King has been offering vegetarian options for at least 15 years. The difference now is that Impossible analyzes animal-based foods at the molecular level, and comes up with plant-sourced proteins to replicate the taste and texture of meat and dairy products. This allows people to avoid eating dairy and meat products without giving up what they love.
Considering the greenhouse gas and other environmental costs of dairy and meat production, products like the Impossible Whopper could prove to be an important part of today’s cleantech environment.
As you’ve probably guessed, I took Burger King up on its offer. I put in my online order, and the app told me that my order number was 66. I gave that to the drive-thru man, and had my Whoppers two minutes later. When I arrived at home, things went about as I expected.
My cat, Skunk, always knows when we are coming home with food. She starts the begging from the front window, and continues until she gets her share of the meat. Sometimes, my partner and I grab the cat her own meat when we pick up food, just to get some peace while we eat. Given that cats and other animals tend to have more sensitive taste and olfactory abilities than humans, I knew that Skunk would be the best test I could throw at the Impossible Whopper.
To make the test as fair as possible, I took care to sip a soda before taking the first bite of each burger, to reset my taste buds. I took a sip of soda, ate a bite of beef Whopper, took another sip, and then the Impossible. I could not taste the difference. At all. I tried this several more times, with the same result. Next, I tried tastes of just the patties. This was where I noticed a slight difference. The beef whopper, of course, tasted like any other Burger King patty I’ve ever had. The Impossible patty tasted just slightly more flavorful. If I had to choose between the two, I would have probably chosen the Impossible.
To make it as fair as possible, I had my partner rotate the plate and move the burgers several times so I wouldn’t know which was which. Again, I couldn’t tell the difference. Taking samples of the patty again, I was able to find the Impossible after several small bites, and only because it tasted slightly better.
The final test was the cat. Skunk is very picky about her meat, and I figured she would know something was up. I first threw her the regular beef, and she gave it her normal, careful sniff test before eating it. Next, I threw a piece of the Impossible patty. She gave it a slightly longer sniff before eating it just the same. She then had several more bites of each type of patty, not showing any indication that she could tell the difference. Or, if she did, she didn’t seem to care.
In the future, I’m probably going to start ordering Impossible Whoppers. The difference in price is only about $1.10, so it’s not a big sacrifice to make. Given the much reduced environmental impact of the Impossible Whopper compared to the normal one, it’s a small price to pay.