The Beyond Burger!

Yack! It’s pretty much beyond horrible!

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I approached the topic of this article with my former office nemesis, Krista Kane, in mind. Krista doesn’t eat red meat, and I think she got a kick out of having me grill up burger substitutes at work cook-outs. Early on in the grilling hobby, for me cooking a turkey or vegetarian burger on a grill was a bit sacrilegious. And Krista would always have some sort of non-real burger for me to cook up for her. Krista recently moved to an area without fast-food restaurants, and had to wait until she had to evacuate for Hurricane Dorian before she could finally try the Impossible Whopper from Burger King. Krista, thank you for tolerating me at work, even though you teamed up against me with my wife at times. This taste test was for you!

My beautiful wife, Stacey, got me on this interest in meat substitute products. It started with her talking about wanting to try the Impossible Whooper, which I eventually wrote about after trying it when it went national. But first, I tried an Impossible Burger at a local chain; Moxi Burger. I was shocked by how good the Impossible Burger tasted and the inner food geek came out of me when I learned how the burger was developed.

I had also heard of Beyond Meat’s various products, the first being Del Taco’s Beyond Taco made with Beyond Meat. Soon after trying the Impossible Burger at Moxi Burger, I discovered that our local Kroger grocery store carries frozen The Beyond Burger by Beyond Meats. Well, it was time to try it out to see if it was as good as the Impossible Burger, and as good as REAL ground beef.

Plant-Based Burger-Patties…

The first thing I learned about the Beyond Burger is that it’s expensive! Two, small little 1/4 lb. patties were $5.99! But, that inner food geek wanted to try them, and they did actually look like hamburger patties in the packaging.

Speaking of the packaging, for those that find this important, it is made of 100% recycled materials. It also describes the product with a bunch of little icons as being kosher, certified vegan, soy free, and gluten free. The ingredients list reads like a list of items from the aisles of Whole Foods Market.

I’m scratching my head…

But it was soon time to see where the rubber meets the road. Or rather, where the meat meets the grill! The packaging recommends thawing the patties in the refrigerator before you grill them, but I had read online that they can be cooked frozen, only requiring a little more time. I preheated my gas grill to 400°, and opened up the packaging. Not so good. The odor of plant-based Beyond Burger wasn’t that awesome. To me it smelled faintly of cat food. That’s not appetizing at all! I then tossed a frozen Beyond Meat patty on the grill in anticipation of eating a cheese burger for lunch. A few twists of Himalayan rock salt and fresh ground pepper later, I closed the grill and waited for the smells to change. I was a little surprised by the lack of sizzling noise and smoke coming from my grill. Hmmmmm.

The directions are pretty straight forward and simple.
One Beyond Meat Burger on the grill with salt and pepper.

After roughly three and a half minutes, it was time to flip this thing and see what kind of grill marks were left on it. I was surprised by how much the grill marks actually stood out once flipped. The “meat” doesn’t caramelize as darkly as real ground beef on the grill; coming out only to an orangish, tan color with well defined grill marks. And, unfortunately, the smell didn’t improve either!

It doesn’t look that awesome, but it doesn’t look that bad.

After another three and a half minutes, I threw a slice of Kraft American Cheese on the Beyond Burger to quickly melt, and then dropped the Beyond Burger on a Publix bakery pretzel bun.

Let me go off on a tangent here. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with a Publix grocery store, and you haven’t done so, try out the Publix Bakery! Stacey and I only really purchase two items from Publix; Publix brand Restaurant Style frozen French fries (soooooooo damn good in the air fryer!) and bread from the Publix Bakery. Publix Bakery bread; best grocery store bread ever!

But back to the Beyond Burger. All plated up with ketchup, mustard, and mayo; and ready to eat on this awesome Publix pretzel bun, I noticed it still smelled like cat food! That was not cool at all! But maybe it would taste better than it smelled. I sliced the cheese burger in half to see what it looked like down the middle. The interior of the burger patty was a reddish/pink color that looked like a perfectly cooked burger. That wasn’t so bad.

A smelly burger on a great bun!
It actually looks like a real burger!

I carried my cheese burger downstairs to share with my wife, and get her opinion on it. The first thing Stacey said was, “It smells like cat food!” I actually felt some feeling of vindication, knowing it wasn’t just me getting put out by the odor. Stacey and I each took a bite, and felt relieved it didn’t taste like cat food.

Flavor wise, it was a little on the bland side. This is probably a good thing because what flavor that did come across wasn’t that great. It wasn’t horrible by any means. I didn’t feel like I was going to spit out my burger and throw the rest in the garbage, or feed it to the dogs. But it wasn’t beefy and rich in flavor like a real burger, or even the Impossible Burger. The more I ate it though, the more I found I disliked the flavor.

Texture wise, I feel like Beyond Meats got very close with the Beyond Burger. It is a touch on the dry side, and each bite felt a little dense, but over all it had a mouthfeel very close to that of real ground beef. Here too, however, the Impossible Burger seems to do a better job in the texture department, being practically indistinguishable from real beef.

A couple of minutes after finishing eating the Beyond Burger, I found the after taste to be pretty damn bad. Drinking water wasn’t doing enough to rid my mouth of the after taste, so Stacey cut me a slice of apple pie; that seemed to handle that problem. But then a short time later, I had a couple of Beyond Burger burps, that were just as unpleasant as the cat food odor of the patties and the after taste. It was time to drink some cold beer, which solved the problem with the burp flavors! Yuck!

The take aways:

  • Soylent Green is people!
  • The Beyond Burger seriously misses the mark in my opinion. Maybe it would taste better to someone who is really a vegan?
  • The Beyond Burger really makes the Impossible Burger shine!
  • REAL meat is the best!
  • Ugh. I need more beer.

The Impossible Whopper!

More from Impossible Foods!

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Back on July 6, 2019, I wrote about trying Impossible Foods’ vegetable based meat substitute at Moxi Burger. The whole experience was driven my by wife Stacey’s interest in Burger King’s Impossible Whopper, a product not offered at the time in our market.

Where is it?

Well, the time is now, and we have tried the Impossible Whopper! On August 8th, Burger King began offering the Impossible Whopper at all of it’s locations in the United States. The Impossible Whopper is a meatless, vegetable based burger patty created by Impossible Foods using all kinds of crazy science.

Stacey and I ordered a “real” Whopper with cheese, and an Impossible Whopper with cheese to go, to take them home to try. While speaking with the manager who took our order, we learned that each Burger King received only a limited supply of Impossible Whopper patties, and they were selling the hell out of them. One thing that surprised me was the Impossible Whopper meal was only $1 more than a regular Whopper meal; at Moxi Burger, the Impossible Burger patty is now $4 more.

The Burger King menu board. We ordered a #1 and a #3 meal.
So far, so good!

Stacey was adamant that I had to try each of the burgers without knowing which one I was trying to see if I could tell which Whopper was real and which was fake. So when we got home, Stacey had me leave the room so she could unwrap and cut each of the Whoppers in half to plate them.

So, which one is the “real” Whopper and which one is made of vegetables?

Upon first inspection, I guessed the Whopper on the left was the Impossible Whopper and the one on the right was the standard Whopper. I made my guess based off my experience with the Impossible Burger from Moxi Burger, and the texture of their Impossible patty. After eating bites from each of them, I found I was wrong! The real Whopper had a slightly looser texture to the meat, while the “meat” in the Impossible Whopper’s patty was a little more tighter and denser. If you weren’t eating the two side-by-side you’d never know! The flavors where almost indiscernible between the two Whoppers, both having a strong “flame broiled” smokey flavor. A word on that; eating the two Whoopers side-by-side will really make you understand how much smoke flavor is artificially added to the Burger King patties. Burger King Whoppers are not really awesome burgers, but they are still enjoyable for some reason. You know, good, bad food!

The Impossible Whopper.

After eating the Whopper and the Impossible Whopper side-by-side, I was not surprised by the Impossible Whopper at all. Especially after having tried the Impossible Burger at Moxi Burger and getting over the shock of how well Impossible Foods used vegetables to mimic meat. The Impossible Whopper tastes very much like a Whopper, with only the slightest differences in flavor and texture. I would bet that if I handed anybody familiar with a Whopper an unwrapped Impossible Whopper, and didn’t tell them what they were eating, they’d never know it wasn’t really meat!

For those of you who really, really don’t want to eat real meat, a warning; the Impossible Whopper is prepared in the same “flame broiler” that real beef and chicken are prepared in. Also, it has mayonnaise, a product containing eggs. So if you are the type of person that doesn’t want anything animal based touching your Impossible Whopper, you’ll have to request to have your Impossible Whopper cooked differently and to hold the mayo. Why would you though!?

How is it cooked?

If you are interested in trying an Impossible Whopper, I suggest you get to a Burger King sooner than later because this is a limited time promotion. I have no doubt that Burger King has seen some good gains by offering the Impossible Whopper and drawing curious customers into their stores. I am very interested to see if Burger King sees enough success from offering the Impossible Whopper that it ends up become a permanent fixture on their menu.

Limited time only. Patty made from plants.

The take aways:

  • It pretty much tastes just like a real Whopper!
  • Whoppers aren’t the greatest burgers on the planet but they are good, bad food.
  • If you want to try it, you better get to a Burger King soon before they stop carrying the Impossible Whopper!
  • Then get yourself to a Moxi Burger and try the Impossible Burger there!
  • I still prefer real MEAT!

The Impossible Has Happened!

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!

Yes, there is a burger joint somewhere in this picture.
We for sure were at the right place.

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!

Ewwww! Made from plants!
Yeah. This creep’ed me out. And made me feel a little guilty.

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.

Which one is meat!?!?

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!

This vegetable self identifies as meat.
Yes! This is really NOT meat!

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!

The Moxie, with 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.

You can see here how the Impossible burger crumbles a touch easier.

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!

Yep, I was playing with my food. Or rather, my wife’s food!

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.

This was a big basket of fries!

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.

Impossible Food’s explanation of the witch craft, I mean science, that is behind their meatless meat.

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!

Some take-aways:

  • 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.
This tolerant woman is my muse, and my taste-testing partner in crime!