Iconic fast-food chain White Castle is now offering a vegan version of its signature sliders, with the “beef” provided by Redwood City-based start-up Impossible Foods. It’s the first time that a major chain has offered the meatless burger alternative and marks a shift in what consumers are demanding these days. The Impossible slider re-creates the sensation of eating meat, complete with “blood,” in hopes to bridge the gap between the dry veggie burgers of yore and real meat.
While the Impossible Burger is offered at 1,300 different restaurants in the United States, including Fat Burger, Umami Burger, and Momofuko Nishi, its featured debut at White Castle, the largest chain to partner with Impossible Foods, is a landmark for the companies involved. Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown hopes that the White Castle partnership will help the burgeoning vegan “meat” company better understand how to “popularize plant-based meat with mainstream burger lovers.”
Founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas, White Castle is credited as the first fast-food chain as well as the inventor of the slider. It also has been owned and operated by the Ingram family for four generations. White Castle CEO Lisa Ingram cites the strong relationship that the company has with its customers as a primary reason to explore a vegan burger option. “It really starts by listening to our customers as we try to do with all of our innovations,” Ingram told Marketplace. “We also have some customers that grew up on White Castle but have decided to be vegetarians… This was a natural evolution for us when we found out that Impossible Foods was creating a plant-based product that looked and tastes like beef both for the people that like meats and for the people that are choosing to have a vegetarian diet.”
Founded in 2011, Impossible Foods opened its first high-volume production facility in Oakland, California in the fall of 2017. Despite this facility’s taking up a full city-block, the demand for Impossible Foods “meat” has become so high that the company is looking double its production in the near future. The Impossible Burger slider at White Castle costs $1.99, in contrast to the $.77 per beef slider, and is available in select stores in New York, New Jersey and the Chicago area. If this trial run proves to be a success, consumers may soon be able to enjoy the Impossible slider at White Castles across the United States.