Back in April, White Castle announced an intriguing new burger option. The fast-food chain unveiled a twist on their classic, square-shaped beef sliders with the Impossible Slider, a vegan burger that still smells and bleeds like real meat.
But not everyone could try this new menu item. The Impossible Slider was only available in 140 select restaurants in New York, New Jersey, and Chicago — until now.
White Castle is now giving the Impossible Slider a national release, expanding it to 377 locations across America, spanning 13 states.
“Our [fans] definitely developed a hunger for the Impossible Slider,” CEO Lisa Ingram said in a press release. “Sales easily exceeded our expectations. The Impossible Slider is a hit with both loyal ‘Cravers’ and customers brand new to White Castle who are seeking out this buzz-worthy slider.”
White Castle partnered with the California startup Impossible Foods to develop this special slider, currently selling for $1.99. Impossible Foods first gained widespread attention in 2016 when it debuted its flagship “bleeding” burger — a totally vegan patty designed to taste, smell, and look just like beef. This burger contains coconut oil, wheat, potato protein, and, most importantly, heme.
Impossible Foods derives this protein from the roots of soy plants, but it’s also abundant in animal blood. Heme gives traditional meat a lot of its signature qualities, like flavor and aroma, and by adding it to the vegan patty, Impossible Foods scientists were able to create a convincing clone.
According to the White Castle release, the Impossible Slider has been a huge success since its spring limited release. The menu item has proven so popular that over 60,000 people signed a petition demanding McDonald’s offer a similar burger, citing White Castle’s “cruelty-free deliciousness” as inspiration.
“The fact that we are the first fast-food chain to offer the Impossible Burger to our loyal customers epitomizes our history of being on the ‘bleeding edge’ of a rapidly evolving history,” Ingram said in another press release.
The Impossible Slider comes on a signature White Castle bun, with pickles, onions, and smoked cheddar cheese. It’s now the chain’s second vegetarian or vegan option on the menu — White Castle also offers a Veggie Slider with a carrot, string bean, zucchini, pea, broccoli, and spinach patty.
Impossible Foods is also pleased with its slider’s reception. While the company’s burgers are currently offered in 3,000 restaurants nationwide, including the prominent fast-casual chains Applebee’s and Cheesecake Factory, this partnership is Impossible Foods’ first cross-over into the fast-food market.
“White Castle is teaching us how to popularize plant-based meat and become a mainstream, mass market menu item and cultural icon,” Impossible Foods CEO and founder Patrick O. Brown said in the press release. “This partnership is a big win for consumers.”
As CNBC points out, Impossible Foods is poised for even greater expansion thanks to a major hurdle it cleared this summer. The FDA approved the burger’s ingredients in July, namely the soy leghemoglobin which releases heme, by deeming it “generally recognized as safe.” That approval eases the regulatory restrictions on the Impossible Burger, making it easier for restaurants of all kinds to carry it.