Burger King, home of the Whopper, is the latest fast food company to give Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burger a shot. Could the result be a lift for fast food's reputation?
As announced in a Burger King press release and on Impossible Foods' website, 59 restaurants in and around St. Louis will be serving the Impossible Whopper. Just like the famous Whopper, the burger will be wedged between a toasted sesame seed bun with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, onions and condiments—only it’s not beef. The Impossible Whopper’s star patty is made out of what seems like an impossible combination: soy protein concentrate, coconut oil, potato protein and other ingredients together make up a high-protein, tasty burger without beef or any animal products.
The burger’s secret ingredient is a heme molecule, which gives the Impossible Burger more of a meaty flavor and that primal, bloody color of a medium-rare patty fresh and hot off the grill.
Today’s news is quite the win for Impossible Foods, which launched earlier this decade. The vegan burger first started making its way into high-end restaurants in New York and other large cities, then continued to scale up as it hit the menu at chains such as White Castle.
And if the Impossible Whopper becomes a hit for Burger King and ends up on more menus nationwide, this news is also a win for the Miami-based company, the wider fast-food industry and, most importantly, the environment and animal rights.
It’s no secret that the fast-food industry, as well as many sit-down restaurant chains, have struggled in recent years. Younger consumers want to know where their food is sourced, are increasingly flexitarian, vegetarian or even vegan, and are more health conscious.
At the same time, burger chains keep thriving. Arguing about the best burger is like trading barbs over celebrities or professional athletes—Californians are loyal to In-N-Out, D.C. natives will tout their long love affair with Five Guys before it expanded nationwide, and Texans will warn you not to mess with Whataburger. And that is just the beginning of the list.
Meanwhile, there are countless news articles, research reports and commentary about the meat industry’s impact on the planet. Hence Burger King’s chess move to add the Impossible Burger to its menu is more than a ploy to lure the vegan customer into its locations. The company and its competitors, such as McDonald’s, have the opportunity to burnish their brand reputation by showing that they, too, can take a stand on the environment and animal welfare. Impossible Foods claims this is part of the company’s mission, as it seeks to end “the use of animals as a food production technology” and that its products offer a “better way.”
If Burger King and its customers agree, the fast food sector could be onto a better way as well.
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.