Burger King’s Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper Is a Flame-Broiled Mess

We now seem to have entered the attention-seeking stage of the plant-based burger.

You know how in every teenage comedy there’s the one cool character who is also the bully, but then eventually loses their high status because of some fall from grace? And then that formerly cool character usually plays out some kind of wild, frantic act in the hopeless act of reclaiming their throne?

Well, things must be getting rough in the option-clogged world of plant-based meats because these fauxtein companies are starting to tilt sideways. Beyond Meat, now valued way below their IPO, has resorted to going full Kardashian. McDonald’s is delaying their McPlant, possibly because it’s been a McFlop in initial test markets. And, Impossible Foods is trying, so hard, to make things work with Burger King.

Today the fast-food chain announced a lineup of new burgers, two of which are Impossible-based: the Impossible King (a plant-based version of the BK King, a Big Mac rip-off) and the Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper.

It’s that second item that’s worth particular mention because unlike Impossible spins on prior fast-food burgers—the Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper is kind of over-the-top.

“The Southwest Bacon Whopper® can also be ordered with a plant-based Impossible™ patty^ for those looking for flexitarian options,” according to the Burger King press release on the new menu item, available nationwide. (More on that “^” later.)

The burger features two Impossible patties topped off with two sauces, several strips of bacon, American cheese, and—okay just because—some tortilla chips. And so the Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper is a mess of flavors and jumble of textures that you’d expect more from a Wiz Khalifa’s Hotbox than boring ol’ Burger King.

But here we are. You probably have questions.

Like what are the ingredients in an Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper? How does it fare nutrition-wise? Is it vegan or vegetarian? And is it healthy?

Here’s what you need to know.

What’s in an Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper?

According to a press representative, here are the ingredients of the burger.

  • Sesame Seed Bun
  • Impossible Patty
  • Bacon
  • American Cheese
  • Avocado Spread
  • Spicy Spread
  • Tortilla Strips
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Onions

    Yeah, kind of incomplete. Like, there’s no info as to what other ingredients are in the bun, cheese, avocado spread, spicy spread, or tortilla chips.

    Burger King does have a “nutrition explorer” on their website, but you won’t find ingredients lists anywhere on it—despite a pledge to ban certain ingredients from their food.

    We do, however, know what’s in an Impossible Burger patty, from their website:

    Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% Or Less Of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant), Soy Protein Isolate.So, in short, this burger is a soy burger with bacon, cheese, avocado “spread,” something spicy (mayo?), tortilla chips, and LTO.

    What’s the nutrition of an Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper?

    We have a few more specifics on this.

    According to a representative of the company, the burger has the following nutrition:

    820 calories (410 calories from fat), 38 grams protein, 76 grams carbohydrates (8 grams fiber, 12 grams sugar), 45 grams fat, and 1,520 milligrams sodium.

    “Half the calories in this come from fat, making it no different than a traditional Whopper itself,” says Chris Mohr, Ph.D., R.D., a Men’s Health nutrition advisor.

    “And if you’re putting bacon on this anyway, not eating meat isn’t your reason [for ordering it], so in that case I’d say just go with the traditional Whopper,” Mohr says.

    For comparison’s sake, BK’s Impossible Whopper has 627 calories, 28 grams protein, 62 grams carbs (6g fiber, 14g sugar), 32g fat, and 1,343mg sodium.

    So while the protein amount on the Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper is good—and the fiber content is decent—you’re still getting a fair number of empty calories in the form of a sugary bun, processed cheese, and whatever is in those spreads. The lettuce, tomato, and onion are what they are on most fast-food burgers: nutritionally paltry afterthoughts.

    Is the Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper vegan or vegetarian?

    There are bacon and cheese on on the burger, so it’s not either.

    “What the hell is the purpose of an Impossible Burger with bacon on it? It’s not Impossible Bacon, is it?” Mohr asks. And adds: “Weird.”

    And then there’s that “^” from the press release above, which leads to the following footnote: “Impossible™ patty made from plants and cooked on the same broiler as beef patties.”

    Is the Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper healthy?

    Impossible Foods states on their website that they ” … hand-pick each ingredient for health, nutrition … ” and compares their products to beef.

    But that’s Impossible. What do actual dietitians say?

    “Many plant-based meat alternatives are ultra-processed and, to date, no large-scale independent studies have been conducted on their consumption and overall health,” says Abby Langer, R.D., author of Good Food, Bad Diet. “Treat any ultra-processed food—plant-based or not—as an occasional thing.”

    And you have to wonder, even if you grant the benefit of the doubt to Impossible, does allowing The King to pummel their patties with processed cheese, two spreads, and corn chips match up with Impossible’s standards for their own products, in which the company “meticulously selected each one of our ingredients to be as safe, delicious, and nutritious as possible”?

    Does Impossible have access to whatever ingredients are inside that “spicy spread”?

    “Novelty plant-based proteins, like this, aren’t ‘better’ for you,” says Mohr. “Now if your goal is to eat less meat but you still want to be able to enjoy BK or other similar restaurants on your own or with friends, then the plant protein options may be a better option for you, but their health halo certainly isn’t worth the hype.”

    So if the Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper isn’t exactly the smartest of nutritional choices, and it’s not vegan or even vegetarian either, who is this burger even for?

    Jennifer Harris, Ph.D., a senior research advisor at UCONN’s Rudd Center, analyzes food industry trends. When it comes to limited-run, plant-based menu items, she says there’s enough market data to indicate that while fast-food chains aren’t really making a buck on these items themselves due to lack of overall interest, they are driving total sales, says Harris.

    That’s because any new menu-marketing push can get prior customers to think about the chain again—and possibly return, Harris says.

    So maybe you’ll never eat a Burger King Impossible Southwest Bacon Whopper.

    But maybe that’s not the whole point. Maybe keeping and holding your attention is all that matters. Per Harris, maybe you’re thinking about Burger King again.

    And maybe, just maybe, you’re thinking about Impossible Foods again too?

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