White Castle is known for its 77-cent beef sliders served in tiny cardboard boxes.
But now, the 97-year-old chain is testing out a more vegetarian-friendly option.
On Thursday, 140 White Castle locations in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois debuted a plant-based slider by the Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods. Founded in 2011, Impossible has created a meatless burger that mimics the taste of beef.
We recently went to a White Castle in Brooklyn to see how White Castle’s original sliders stack up to Impossible’s. There was a clear winner.
We visited a White Castle in Bushwick — one of 14 in New York City — on the first day the Impossible sliders became available.
Considered America’s first fast-food chain, White Castle was founded in 1921. The brand rose in popularity following the 2004 film “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle,” in which two stoners visit a New Jersey location.
The Impossible sliders are a little more than double the price of the traditional sliders ($US1.99 vs 77 cents).
White Castle already has a vegetarian slider, which it will continue to offer in addition to Impossible’s.
We ordered one Impossible combo — which included two plant-based sliders, fries, and a soda — and a regular combo — which included four beef sliders, plus the fries and drink. We also asked for two extra Impossible sliders. It was a lot of food.
In total, the veggie combo with cheese cost about $US8 and the other (without cheese) was $US6.59.
Both sliders included the same toppings (onions, pickles, and ketchup), but the Impossible ones also had cheese.
We first tried the Impossible burgers, which looked much thicker than White Castle’s normal square patties. They also weirdly looked more like meat than the beef ones.
Instead of beef, Impossible’s burgers contain heme (the molecule that gives beef its reddish colour and metallic flavour), textured wheat protein, and coconut oil, among other ingredients.
The center was slightly pink and appeared to have a meaty texture. It was moist and had a sweet, pleasant flavour.
It similar to beef, but not quite the same as a regular burger you’d make on a grill.
However, the White Castle ones didn’t really taste like beef, either — more like a greasy substance that would you expect to cost 77 cents.
Unlike the Impossible burgers, White Castle’s patties had their signature five holes in the center.
The Impossible slider was the clear winner.
That said, competing with a 77-cent slider — which essentially just tastes like grease, ketchup, and bread — presents a low bar.
Impossible Foods hopes to launch its sliders in every White Castle in the US as well as other fast-food chains globally, COO David Lee said.
The startup is now able to offer its sliders at a relatively low price.
Previously, a larger version of the Impossible Burger was only available in higher-end restaurants, like Umami Burger and David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi, for over $US10.
The new Impossible slider presents a meatless alternative that beef devotees might warm up to.
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