We all have heard the claims from Burger King.
The commercials say their ‘Impossible Whopper’, a plant-based meatless alternative, tastes like a regular Whopper. Many in the commercials claim they noticed no difference in taste between the plant patty and the beef burger.
So it led us to investigate.
But before we got down to eating, we wanted to know the burger’s make up.
“Every time a new product comes out the biggest things folks want to know is taste. How does it look, and what are the ingredients,” said Shelly Marie Redmond and award-winning local Culinary Dietitian.
She helped us understand what goes into the most famous meat alternative on the market.
“The Impossible Whopper compared to our Whopper has 22 ingredients. The first ingredient is water. The second ingredient is soy proteins,” said Redmond. “Now for a plant-based product, a lot of folks would think there would be beans in it. Where’s my celery? Where’s my carrots? And come to find out it’s more of a soy based patty. So is it still somewhat vegetarian? Yes. But it doesn’t have those vegetables that sometimes we would think.”
Redmond says the Impossible Whopper adds potato starch as a filler. So its carbohydrate count is higher than the original.
“So the fillers hold it together. The fillers may add a bit of a good look to that product.,” said Redmond. “And those fillers, a lot of times, do contain carbs.”
But when it comes to calories and fat, there’s little separation.
“Calorie-wise, not so much of a difference. We’re looking at about 640 with the Impossible Whopper. About 660 to 680 with our regular Whopper,” explained Redmond. “And then fat, again not that much of a difference.”
Now that we know what’s in it, our focus turned to what matters most … taste.
I cut a regular Whopper in half and did the same with the Impossible Whopper.
I plated them side-by-side with the regular Whopper on the right, and the Impossible Whopper on the left.
I then served the burgers to 12 KTAL NBC 6 employees.
The staffers examined the burgers. They looked. They smelled and then they tasted.
They took a bite from each side of the burger and processed what they had just eaten.
Then I asked them to point to the classic Whopper. The results, in some cases, were comical.
“Now Burger King was my first job. So I know what a Whopper tastes like,” boldly said NBC 6 employee Ya’Lisha Gatewood.
She then pointed to the Impossible Whopper and declared it as the real thing. Seconds later I informed her that she was fooled.
“What! Really,” said Gatewood. “I couldn’t tell the difference.”
She wasn’t alone.
NBC 6 employee Carolyn Roy took two bites and she still thought the Impossible Whopper was the real deal.
“It had a little bit more flavor. And this one (the original Whopper) was a bit dry,” said Roy. “I still don’t believe you.”
NBC 6 employee Nikki Henderson says the original’s beef texture gave it away.
“That texture was rough. In my mouth,” said Henderson. “It was rough.”
But for our next group texture had Steve Anderson picking incorrectly.
“The texture just felt normal,” he said.
But for John Walton its flavor did not.
“It didn’t have that smokiness to it. You know that their thing is that they grill their burgers,” said Walton. “It didn’t have that grilled taste to me.”
That ended up being a common theme.
“This one still (the Impossible Whopper) had the flame broiled taste, but it wasn’t as strong,” said NBC 6 employee Alexis Tucker.
In all nine staffers got it right. Three did not. That’s a wide margin. But according to our taste testers, it was closer than the numbers say.
“I will say that it’s comparable to the Whopper,” said NBC 6 employee Lynn Vance. “Especially if you get it with everything on it, just like a regular Whopper is made. It does taste like a Whopper.”
“It was very close,” added NBC 6 employee Meagan Henry. “It was really hard to tell the difference between the two.”
As for the burger Redmond would recommend to her clients?
“I’m going to go for the beef,” said Redmond. “When we have 22 ingredients, compared to just the beef, it’s kinda like uhh … and with soy being that controversial ingredient. Sometimes when there is controversy it’s best to stay away.”
But more and more people are finding that difficult to do. Industry analyst ‘Markets and Markets’ say the current $12 billion U.S. plant-based meat market is expected to grow to $27 billion in just five years.
Investment firm UBS, projects world-wide growth to increase to $85 billion by 2030.