Spoiler Alert: I actually enjoyed a “not real cheeseburger”!
It’s funny how during a conversation one thing can lead to another. My wife, during her commute home from Atlanta this evening, called me to pass the time on her long drive. We talk about all manner of things, and a conversation about a possible local real estate development project turned to the recent closing of a Burger King around that location. Talk of Burger King led to my wife bringing up the Impossible Whopper; a food item she said she really wanted to try.
What’s an Impossible Whopper? It’s a MEATLESS Whopper! My wife has brought this up in the past and I inwardly (and possibly outwardly) cringed at the idea of a vegetable product masquerading as a meat substitute, like a half-assed bean curd burger. Images of hippies walking around barefoot, talking about finding their center and their higher self, while holding a meatless burger, came to mind. The very idea was insulting to the apparently large heap of Cro-Magnon DNA still floating around in my system. During this particular conversation, she swore she had heard it tasted like real meat and she really wanted to try it. Well damn it, if my wife wanted a fake burger I was going to find her a fake burger!
While talking to my wife, I started looking up Burger King’s Impossible Whopper and started reading some interesting things, and a bad thing. Interestingly, I found that Burger King is seeing some success with this aberration of a burger! People who eat it seem to love it. What?!? I read further and found that Burger King wants to roll this Impossible Whopper out across the country! WHAT?!? Can this Impossible Whopper be that passable as a substitute for a real, good tasting cheeseburger? But then I learned the bad news; for now it’s only out in extremely limited markets and the nearest Burger King flame broiling an Impossible Whopper is in Columbus, Georgia. Yeah, I’m not driving several hours to eat dinner at a Burger King! (Well, unless my wife really wanted to!)
But searching the inter-webs for this Impossible Whopper took me down an unexpected path and I ended up finding the home page for Impossible Foods, the company responsible for the “meat” in the Impossible Whopper. I quickly learned that Impossible Foods supplies their product to several local and chain restaurants in Atlanta and the Atlanta Metro area. When I say several, I mean a lot. And there are some notable names on that list, to include; Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Cheeseburger Bobby’s, Whalburgers, and Moxie Burger. Soon after my wife got home, a quick call to a Moxie Burger close by confirmed they serve Impossible Foods’ version of meat. Well hell! I figured we could go for burgers and my wife could satisfy this weird desire for a weird burger. And I could chow down on a REAL burger! Even better, Moxie Burger was on the list of burger joints I have been wanting to try!
Upon arriving at the Moxie burger, a very unassuming burger joint that blends into the strip mall, I immediately noticed signage touting this place had the fake meat we were looking for. Honestly, the signage made me feel a little guilty, like I was actually cheating on meat!
My wife and I slid in and found Moxie Burger is a counter service style eatery. We grabbed some menus so we could stand in the way and figure out what we wanted to eat. Eventually we timidly approached the counter, and my wife went all in. She ordered the Impossible burger, asking for the usual burger setup of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle. My wife is Jewish, by the way, and consuming meat and dairy is a no-no in the Jewish faith. ( “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Exodus 23:19) But hell, this wasn’t meat and dairy, it was plant and dairy and she was able to order a cheeseburger!
When she completed the order, the cashier asked my wife something that floored me. “How would you like your Impossible burger cooked?” What!? How would you like your plant based, fake meat, hippie bean burger cooked!? You’ve got to be kidding me! My wife, being a true American, ordered her’s medium rare.
It was then my turn to order, and I was for sure eating beef tonight. I ordered The Moxie; their standard Angus beef patty topped with a fried green tomato, bacon, pimento cheese, and their Moxie sauce. We also ordered fries for two, a drink, and a couple of the dipping sauces; of which there are eighteen to choose from. I paid, a very reasonable $25.78 and a tip, before we were off to a table to wait in anticipation for one Impossible burger and one real burger.
Our food came surprisingly fast! And it looked good! We started studying my wife’s burger intently. “What does it look like? What does it smell like? What is the texture going to be like? Is it going to taste like crap?” The questions rolled through my meat eating, cave man brain. We placed my actual beef cheeseburger next to the Impossible burger to compare the textures. They actually appeared to be very close. Very similar. My wife cut her cheeseburger in half so we could study the inside. My God! It really looked like beef!
The smell was…
…well it was down right incredible! So far this thing looked like a juicy cheeseburger and smelled like a juicy cheeseburger. What in the hell was going on? My wife handed me half of the Impossible burger and started to reach for the ketchup, but as the smell reached my face, I couldn’t wait for condiments. I bit in.
And I was shocked!
Holy crap, if this thing didn’t taste like a really good, juicy cheeseburger! And I mean, it was really good! It was juicy! It was BEEFY! It tasted like a burger I would have been proud to have prepared myself. It set me to giggling. It shouldn’t have tasted so good. It was impossible!
I had to hand the half of my wife’s cheeseburger back to her before I devoured it. I was also starting to have an internal struggle. I didn’t want to like it. I am a meat eater! I don’t eat hippie veggie burgers. What the hell? Then I dug into mine, The Moxie, made with Angus beef. Real beef!
My burger was also good! It packed a lot of flavor and I loved the combination of bacon, fried green tomato, and pimento cheese. This is when I noticed the difference in the mouthfeel between the Impossible burger and the real beef burger. I handed my burger over to my wife so she could nibble a bit of the real beef and she agreed there was a difference.
The Impossible burger has a realistic ground beef texture, and is very juicy. But the mouthfeel of the Impossible burger was a little looser than the real ground beef burger. It’s still very ground-beef like, but just a touch less firm than a conventional beef patty. It’s not at all unpleasant, just slightly different.
I used a knife to cut a small bit of the Impossible burger off the patty so I could play with it, using the knife to spread out the small piece on my plate. It was pink in the middle and nicely browned on the outside. Perfectly cooked!
My wife straight murdered the first half of the Impossible burger, and set to cutting the rest in half again to share with me. I wasn’t going to turn it down as much as I didn’t want to outwardly admit I liked a veggie burger. But hell, it was pretty damn good!
Before we knew it, both cheeseburgers were devoured. We couldn’t stop talking about how good the Impossible burger was. We started tackling the huge serving of fries while we discussed the burgers, but gave up on the fries and asked for a to-go-box to take them home in as it was a big serving.
Later in the evening my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up back at the Impossible Foods website (www.impossiblefoods.com). I was curious as to what this company was all about and very curious as to what I had really eaten for dinner. I first navigated to the “Science” tab at the top of the website and learned about something called “heme”; the magic inside of meat that makes it taste, well, meaty. Impossible Foods had a really good video explaining what makes it all work.
While watching their video I found the whole thing kind of creepy, as if Care Bears and The Umbrella Corporation got together and are responsible for this weirdness. But hell, I’d rather end up becoming a zombie because of a lab created cheeseburger rather than some lab created, super mutated virus. And a larger part of me finds the science behind Impossible Food’s meatless burger to be quite fascinating and neat. And the point of using all of this science to create meat in a lab is it is apparently better for the environment compared to raising livestock.
After clicking the “Foodservice” tab on the Impossible Foods website, I learned that this fake meat product prepares no differently in the kitchen than real ground beef and can be used for meals like tacos, spaghetti and meatballs, and kabobs. Impossible Foods actually suggests you prepare dishes with their product just like you would with real beef.
So would I eat the Impossible Burger again?
Begrudgingly, I have to say yes. I love meat. Real meat, that is. Cooking burgers, or a good steak, is “my thing”. Enjoying red meat is a bit of a hobby to me. And this isn’t real meat. This is vegetables. And I’m not the biggest fan of vegetables! But the Impossible Foods burger was practically indiscernible from real beef. So when that Impossible Whopper finally hits the local Burger King, I’ll be trying it!
- Moxie Burger does a great cheeseburger! I’d definitely eat there again.
- Soylent Green is people!
- Food Science is pretty cool! The idea of lab created meat is a little weird. Maybe uncomfortable even, but neat nonetheless.
- Impossible Foods has something here and will probably continue to be very successful with it.