We’ve been talking for years about the fake meat revolution, about how more and more companies and restaurants are trying to recreate the taste and smell experience of a good burger without using a pinch of real meat. Well, that revolution has just gone mainstream.
Burger King, the world’s second-largest burger chain, has just announced that it will be selling a version of its famous whopper with Impossible Foods burgers all over the US. And no, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke.
Other fast food chains like Carl’s Jr or White Castel have been trying this type of burger for the last few years (in July 2018 there were more than 3,000 restaurants; about 5,000 when the last version was presented at the last Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas), but Burger King’s jump (and its 7,200 stores) is the doorbell that needed the fake meat to show the trend is serious.
The key ingredient of Impossible Foods is soy haemoglobin (also known as heme) and has already been approved by the FDA. This protein is produced naturally in the roots of the soy plant and after recovering it thanks to certain yeasts, it is incorporated into vegetarian fillets giving them a flavor and texture similar to meat (mainly because its biochemical structure is very similar).
But will you notice the difference? More than five years ago, New York Times food journalist Mark Bittman said, “You won’t notice the difference between this and real meat. At least I couldn’t and it’s the kind of thing I do for a living”. Burger King has decided to bet strongly on that idea: the Impossible Whopper is impossible to distinguish from a normal Whopper.
The best thing that could happen to fake meat is that having a hamburger giant like Burger King endorse the product at this level, beyond short-term commercial strategies: it is a boost to this type of product that a few years ago was unthinkable.