As Burger King prepares to introduce the Impossible Burger on its menu is selected outlets in and around St. Louis, the San Francisco Bay Area-based veggie patty is stepping onto what could be its biggest stage ever.
While the plant-based sandwich created in 2016 by Redwood City, Calif.-based Impossible Foods has been making appearances in more and more privately-owned and chain restaurants around the country, the Burger King move could be a game-changer – the global burger-and-fries behemoth says the rollout could spread to all 7,200 outlets in the United States if the St. Louis experiment goes well.
While we wait to see what happens in the Show Me state, here are seven things you may not have known about this relatively new kid on the burger block:
1. The meaty flavor of the Impossible Burger comes from a soy ingredient called leghemoglobin, which Impossible Foods says “is a protein found in plants that carries heme, an iron-containing molecule that is essential for life. Heme is found in every living being – both plants and animals. And although heme has been consumed every day for hundreds of thousands of years, Impossible Foods discovered that it’s what makes meat taste like meat. We make the Impossible Burger using heme from soy plants – identical to the heme from animals – which is what gives it its uniquely meaty flavor.”
2. A study in the Journal of Animal Science found that a single real-meat hamburger requires: 6.7 pound of animal feed, 52.8 gallons of water, 74.5 square feet of land and 1,036 Btus of fossil fuel energy, enough to power a microwave for 18 minutes.
3. Despite its growing fan base among vegetarians who love the non-meat sandwich’s meaty flavor and texture, Impossible Foods has been criticized by the animal-rights folks at PETA: the activists say Impossible is being hypocritical when it proclaims be in the livestock-lifesaving business even while it tests its products on lab rats. “Impossible Foods decided voluntarily to test one of its burger ingredients – soy leghemoglobin – by feeding it to a total of 188 rats in three separate tests, killing them, and cutting them up, none of which it has ever been required to do in order to market its products,” PETA said in a statement released last year under the subject line “Why It’s Impossible for PETA to Get Behind the Impossible Burger’
4. Last January, Impossible Foods introduced a new version of its signature burger. Called Impossible Burger 2.0, the latest iteration, says the company, is “tastier, juicier and more nutritious – featuring 30 percent less sodium and 40 percent less saturated fat than our current recipe and just as much protein as 80/20 ground beef from cows.” It’s also gluten-free, replacing wheat with soy protein.
5. During the January launch, Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown told The Spoon Newsletter that there’s more innovation where that came from: “R&D has been going at a blazing pace since Day One,” said Brown, adding that his team was now working on producing “whole cuts of beef,” including steak. “(Steak) has huge symbolic value,” Brown told the blog. “If we can make an awesomely delicious world-class steak … that will be very disruptive not just to the beef industry, but to other sectors of the meat industry.”
6. The company says it plans to release a “raw” version of the burger in grocery stores by the end of the year and claims it will be cost about the same as USDA premium ground beef.
7. The company produced a “Behind the Burger” video to introduce folks to its signature dish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=u1fKbYqK3OY.
Visit The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com