As you may have heard, Impossible Foods has arrived at White Castle. Fast food’s most prominent high-tech veggie burger debuted last Thursday at 140 White Castle locations in New York, New Jersey, and the Chicago area — which means people have had four days to sample the so-called Impossible Slider, and decide how well it stacks up against two important standards: the original slider that’s been on White Castle’s menu for generations, and the original Impossible Burger now sold everywhere from Momofuku Nishi to your neighborhood Wahlburgers.
As most Americans know, the beef on a White Castle slider is weird. It’s square, abnormally thin (one pound of ground beef yields about 18 patties), very gray, and for some reason, punched through with five holes. Swapping out the beef for the Impossible approximation would seem easy enough, but White Castle’s veggie burger is actually entirely different: the Impossible Slider weighs four ounces, gets a fancier smoked cheddar, fire-roasted onions, and a special bun that’s a little heartier than the chain’s signature roll. The pickle slices are the only unchanged ingredient.
The veggie patties are reportedly hand-formed with an ice-cream scoop, then cooked on a dedicated grill, and don’t arrive frozen like White Castle’s beef patties. As a result, they’re also left thicker, so they won’t fall apart on the flattop. Let’s just say, the Impossible Slider isn’t destined to become a must-cop for the Instagram set:
So, okay, they don’t look great, but they also don’t look any worse than a typical White Castle slider. The real question is, how does this thing taste? Louisa Chu gives it “two enthusiastic thumbs up” in the Chicago Tribune. Food & Wine argues that the burger has enough “rusty, iron-y flavor” that, when commingled with onion and oil, makes you “not even think twice” about it being a meat-free mix of wheat, potatoes, coconut oil, and heme. The New Yorker’s Hannah Goldfield says that while White Castle’s standard slider of Harold & Kumar fame can still give her the “primal satisfaction that seared animal fat usually does,” she’d probably opt for the Impossible version, which she describes as a little meat-loaf-ish (“a fairly loosely packed patty”), but calls “surprisingly satisfying” regardless. In summation: It seems … fine. If you don’t mind a White Castle slider, you won’t mind this one either.
Of course, the Impossible Sliders aren’t just a feat of food engineering, they’re also something of a technological leap, so Ars Technica also sent a reporter to try them. His opinion was that it’s “fairly burger-like,” but didn’t taste much like a White Castle–brand slider, whose ingredients he argues cohere to “create something greater than the sum of its parts.” The new Impossible slider, by contrast, had more discrete parts, and the bun “remained dry, tasting of white bread and little else.”
* This article accidentally listed peas as an Impossible Burger ingredient. Impossible uses potatoes; peas are found in Beyond Burgers.