Is Burger King's Impossible Whopper Worth the Hype?

The regular Whopper up top, and the Impossible Whopper on the bottom.
The regular Whopper up top, and the Impossible Whopper on the bottom.
Photo by Zachary Fagenson
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Impossible whopper or regular whopper? Before even discussing whether the soy protein heme used in Burger King's new plant-based patty really mimics the texture and beefy flavor of meat, we might first ask which burger has less environmental impact on our planet.

But the main question for most people is, how does it taste? Can it replace the ground meat of traditional burgers? Is the Impossible Whopper worth eating?

The answer is most definitely yes.

The Impossible Whopper precisely mimics its forebear's signature flame-grilled taste profile. The texture is just as similar.

The patty doesn't crumble or pull apart as so many imitation meats do. It is juicy at times, and strewn throughout each bite are the chewier, more toothsome clumps of "meat" that until now have been available only in the real thing. The only aspect of the Impossible Whopper that falls short of the hype is its appearance. Like almost all alternative meat patties, the Impossible burger is a near-perfect circle with right angles at its edges. While pictures have only shown thick patties with pinkish, medium-rare centers, the actual thing, from Burger King at least, is a homogenous brown matrix speckled with air bubbles.

Wednesday evening, the drive-thru line at the downtown Miami Burger King was short and moved briskly. The woman working the window said people had been ordering the $4.29 sandwich ($6.29 for the meal) all day and even asking to buy single patties to take home.

Is the plant-based Impossible Whopper healthier for you? A regular Whopper packs 660 calories and 40 grams of fat between its buns. An Impossible Whopper contains 630 calories and 34 grams of fat, so there's virtually no difference in caloric intake. It seems, then, the most logical reasons to order the Impossible Whopper are global harm reduction and moral issues.

The Impossible Whopper
The Impossible Whopper
Burger King

A large chain like Burger King embracing plant-based options is welcome considering the outsize impact the beef industry has on the environment. 

According to a study by the Environmental Working Group — a D.C.-based nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to protecting human health and the environment — the production, processing, and distribution of meat requires huge outlays of pesticides, fertilizer, fuel, feed, and water while releasing greenhouse gases, manure, and a range of toxic chemicals into our air and water. A lifecycle analysis found that red meat such as beef and lamb is responsible for ten to 40 times as many greenhouse-gas emissions as common vegetables and grains.

Though the Impossible Whopper isn't perfect, it allows Burger King customers to opt for a sandwich that essentially provides the same experience to which they've become accustomed but with fewer harmful ancillary impacts. 

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