Classic Whopper vs Impossible Whopper — Is Fake Meat Better?

The two Whoppers side-by-side. The regular Whopper is on the left and the Impossible Whopper is on the right. Photo by Ruby Conrad.

On August 8, 2019, Burger King released the Impossible Whopper, a meatless alternative to their signature Whopper. The Impossible Whopper is a dollar more that its beef counterpart, and is made of a blend of soy and potato protein, with heme (an iron-containing protein found in all living organisms) as the main flavor component. But how does the Impossible Whopper stack up against the regular one? Sophia Rosenberger (10) and I compared them side by side.

To start, we compared the appearance of the burgers. On first glance, the two Whoppers look almost identical. But upon further investigation there are noticeable differences between the two, namely color and shape. The color of the regular Whopper is a warm, darkish brown with an imperfect circular shape. Essentially, it’s what you would expect a burger patty to look like. The Impossible Whopper, however, is more of a grayish brown with some yellow undertones and is a perfect circle. The Impossible patty also seemed to be a bit wider and fill out the bun more than the meat patty.

Upon first bite, you don’t notice much of a difference between the meat Whopper and the Impossible one. The meat burger, obviously, tastes like meat: smoky and beefy, with the flavor of the patty overpowering the toppings. The Impossible Whopper tastes more like garlic and onion, with a subtle, but not gross, sweetness to it. The Impossible Whopper’s flavors are generally more subtle compared to the original patty, letting the vegetables and condiment flavors shine. The textures of the two patties are what set them apart, and this is where the Impossible Whopper has the advantage. While the beef Whopper is very dry, the Impossible Whopper is more palatable. Both of us agree that if we had blindly tasted the Impossible Whopper, we would have thought it was really meat.

When it comes to nutritional value, the two Whoppers are pretty close in multiple categories. There are only 1-2 grams of difference when it comes to sugar, fiber, trans fats and saturated fats, and the regular Whopper only has 30 calories more than the Impossible one. Also, believe it or not, the regular Whopper only has 3 more grams of protein than the Impossible one (28 grams and 25 grams, respectively). However, the meat Whopper also has 80 more milligrams of cholesterol, an abundance of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. The Impossible Whopper isn’t perfect, though. It has 100 more milligrams of sodium than the regular Whopper. The Impossible Whopper also has 58 grams of carbohydrates, while the regular Whopper has 49 grams.

However, when it comes to the environmental impacts of these burgers, there is no comparison. According to NBC, the Impossible Burger, compared to a quarter pound of ground beef, uses 96 percent less land, 89 percent less fossil fuel emissions and 87 percent less water. And, of course, it’s a great vegetarian option for anyone eating or trying to eat a plant-based diet. 

Compared to the regular Whopper, Rosenberger and I both agree that the Impossible Whopper came out on top. The texture was much less dry, the patty filled out the bun better, and the environmental impact is much smaller when compared to beef. However, one big downside of the Impossible Whopper is that it’s a dollar more than the meat one. If you are saving money, it may be hard to drop an extra dollar per burger, but if you can afford it, the Impossible Whopper is definitely worth your money.

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