The Impossible Burger launched just over two years ago, claiming to be a revolutionary plant based alternative to beef – allowing people to enjoy the same taste and texture of beef while making a more healthy and environmentally sustainable choice.
Initially, the Impossible Burger was only available in a handful of high-end restaurants in New York and San Francisco. Since then, the Impossible Burger has launched in over 1,000 restaurants (according to the company’s website); in many cases, replacing more traditional “veggie burgers” on the menu.
As the availability of Impossible Burgers has spread across the country, the brand has gained a reputation for living up to its claim of providing consumers with a uniquely beef-like alternative to meat. This reputation is leading even the most skeptical carnivores to give the Impossible Burger a try – and convincing many that it is, in fact, an enjoyable alternative to meat.
This fall, Impossible Burgers expanded into the realm of fast food, with White Castle launching “Impossible Sliders” across its 3,000 locations in the United States and Hong Kong, after a successful launch in limited markets. With the launch of the “Impossible Slider,” the Impossible Burger is now available in both fast food markets and in some of the most famous high-end restaurants in the United States.
The Impossible Slider is cooked and flavored with dehydrated onions, just like the traditional White Castle Sliders. The Impossible Slider costs $1.99, a price comparable to the White Castle “Double Slider” (which makes sense, given that the Impossible Slider contains twice as much “meat” as a single White Castle patty).
Initial reviews of the Impossible Slider are mostly positive, with Eater calling it, “one of the best fast food burgers, period.” The review goes on to say that while the Impossible Burger may fall short of expectations for beef flavor at high-end restaurants where people expect the complex flavors of high-end beef, it excels at mimicking (or even exceeding) the taste of highly processed beef that people expect from a fast food restaurant. While this may seem like faint praise, it speaks to the potential of the Impossible Burger to corner a significant portion of the fast food market, as a growing number of consumers seek to reduce the amount of meat in their diets – perhaps the Impossible Burger will have a better reception and faster adoption at lower-cost quick service restaurant chains than it did at higher-priced restaurants.
While some people may agree with Eater’s assessment that the Impossible Burger is best suited to fast food, its expansion into higher-end establishments shows no signs of slowing. This may be due in part to the fact that Impossible “meat” can be prepared and flavored in different ways – just like ground beef – allowing each restaurant to prepare it in a signature fashion.
Innova Market Insights has identified “The Plant Kingdom” as one of its top trends for 2019, and the rapid expansion of the Impossible Burger is one indicator of just how pervasive this trend is. As stated in Food Ingredients First, “For the mainstream consumer, going plant based is about achieving a healthy and sustainable balance between meat and vegetables, rather than adopting an all-or-nothing way of eating.”
And in an environment where reducing meat consumption is something that many consumers want to do, the Impossible Sliders at White Castle provide one opportunity to choose a plant-based alternative to meat without sacrificing the taste.