For over two years, the Impossible Whopper has been a Burger King menu item and is a phenomenal hit among many vegetarians. But, on October 11, the chain entered uncharted territory to become the first fast-food giant to offer Impossible Foods’ vegan nuggets.
Impossible nuggets are available in an 8-piece order and come with your choice of dipping sauces. Please don’t get too excited yet, though, because they are only around for a limited time and only available at three locations in the U.S.: Miami, Boston, and Des Moines, IA.
Burger King’s Impossible History
As we mentioned, the first Burger King meatless option was the Impossible Whopper which was released in 2019. The burger began as a test launch, much like the Impossible Nuggets, before expanding into over 7,000 BK locations across the country. The sandwich is made using a plant-based “burger” patty from Impossible Foods and is considered vegan friendly when ordered with no mayonnaise. The Impossible Whopper is a true pioneer, and since its release, has also been made available in international markets such as Trinidad, Europe, and Canada.
In 2020, Burger King teamed up with Impossible Foods once again to test out Impossible Sausage. They also did this in a small test market before featuring the meatless sausage on Burger King’s Impossible Croissan’wich at select locations across the U.S. That being said, this makes B.K. was the first national fast-food chain to put plant-based sausage on a breakfast sandwich. The only downside is that the sandwich is not vegan friendly because it’s made with animal products such as real eggs, cheese, and non-vegan croissants.
So, this should tell you that Burger King already has expertise in debuting meatless menu options. In 2019, the Impossible Whopper only spent four months being tested for popularity, and one city where it did “exceedingly well” was St. Louis. Perhaps the best part is that the CEO of Burger King’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International, recently said that the Impossible Whopper is not a short-term offering, as it should be on menus for years to come. In fact, the official launch of the meatless Whopper was so successful that same-store sales jumped roughly 6 percent in the quarter after the launch. It helped to attract new and returning customers, and orders were up nearly $3 each across all orders.
Other Franchises & Meatless Options
Vegan and vegetarian options are currently areas of growth for fast-food companies. At the beginning of 2021, Taco Bell tested “Craveatarian” which is a plant-based protein blend of chickpeas and peas. This move makes sense because this chain is already popular among vegetarian consumers due to its abundance of veggie options. Taco Bell also re-added their fan-favorite potatoes to their menu this year which are always a big hit with the customers who don’t eat meat.
In August 2021, Chipotle announced that they’d begin testing vegan chorizo, which is made from pea protein. And even McDonald’s is joining the pack and trying plant-based burgers around the globe, but unfortunately, not in the U.S. at this time. If you need more examples, Starbucks has the Impossible sausage breakfast sandwich, White Castle offers Impossible Sliders, and Carl Jr.’s has a Beyond Burger.
Burger King Impossible Nuggets
While B.K. may be the first fast-food restaurant to offer vegan chicken nuggets from Impossible Foods, the nuggets debuted in over 150 sit-down restaurants and are hitting the shelves in thousands of grocery stores by the end of this year.
You’ll find them in stores such as Gelsons, Kroger, Safeway, ShopRite, and Walmart. Restaurants where Impossible nuggets are available include Joyland (Nashville, TN), Fuku (NYC), and Red Rooster (NYC). The debut of Impossible Nuggets comes on the heels of their largest competitor – Beyond meat’s, release of their Beyond Chicken Tenders, which are now found in 400 restaurants.
Though you can’t get Burger King’s nuggets nationwide just yet, it’s worth noting that they are mostly made from sunflower oil and soy protein. An order of Impossible nuggets has 25 percent less sodium and 40 percent less saturated fat than animal-based chicken nuggets. Yet, it’s important to note that B.K.’s nuggets will not be vegan because they’ll be cooked in the same oil that the restaurants use for their cheese and meat products.
Will Burger King Impossible Nuggets Be A Hit?
In the grand scheme of things, plant-based protein options are still new to the world, and the release of each item leaves people wondering if it will taste like the real thing. Some food critics have reviewed impossible nuggets, and one said, Impossible nuggets “Sort-of taste like chicken.” The critic continued on to say they leave no aftertaste in your mouth, but this feels like a low bar to top.
But, when you think about the shaped-then-fried pieces of meat paste that most fast-food chains sell as chicken nuggets, the meat-free version is “indistinguishable” from what food makers do to make the nuggets for which animals have to die.
But, it’s not just that Burger King and other restaurants are trying to save the planet and prevent animal slaughters – there are other reasons for the push. Numerous supply chain issues and labor shortages were caused by the pandemic, which means prices have gone up for chicken and other meats. This incentivizes large food companies to invest in meatless options.
This isn’t to say that mass production of plant-based protein won’t present its own issues regarding worker treatment and negative implications for the environment. But at any rate, eating less meat may not be a terrible thing. To fight climate change and curb emissions, we need at least a small degree of diet change. And when you think about how some foods are made, there are worse things than eating an imitation chicken nugget that’s almost “indistinguishable” from a real nugget.
The Bottom Line
We will have to wait and see how Burger King’s Impossible Chicken Nugget test goes before we’ll know if the item will go nationwide. But, if the test does go well, the rollout should happen pretty quickly. After all, it only took four months for the Impossible Whopper to debut all across the country.
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