Amid a banner year for plant-based proteins, Impossible Foods is rolling out a new meatless chicken nugget.
It’s clearly not your typical chicken nugget: The fast-food staple is getting the gourmet treatment, debuting first on the menus of high-end restaurants run by some of the top chefs in the country. Starting today, you can find them at celebrity restaurateur David Chang’s fried chicken concept Fuku in New York; acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson’s comfort food eatery Red Rooster in Harlem and Miami; James Beard Award-winner Sean Brock’s fast-food tribute Joyland in Nashville; best-selling cookbook author Tal Ronnen’s Los Angeles hotspot Crossroads Kitchen; and El Alto Jr., a new family-friendly pop-up from culinary superstar Traci Des Jardins in Los Altos, California.
A news release describes the nuggets as sporting a “golden, crispy breadcrumb coating, a juicy and springy white meat texture, and a savory chicken flavor, while containing 40% less saturated fat (2 grams vs. 3.5 grams per serving) and 25% less sodium (400 milligrams vs. 540 milligrams per serving) than animal chicken nuggets.” At Joyland, they will be dished with a side of pimento mac and cheese and a peach sweet and sour sauce; at Fuku, they come with two house-made dips and waffle fries.
“We are tremendously excited about our Impossible Nuggets . . . For the first time, consumers unquestionably prefer meat made from plants instead of meat from an iconic animal,” Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown said in a statement, citing a blind taste test in which 70% of participants preferred its nuggets to an animal-based version from a leading brand. “In the battle for the future of food, this is the first time David has categorically bested Goliath, but it won’t be the last.”
Later this week, Impossible’s new nuggets will also show up at a handful of fast-casual food chains, including hamburger stand Fatburger; sausage joint Dog Haus; and California-based diner revamp Gott’s Roadside.
Finally, later this month, the nuggets will land in the frozen food aisles of major grocers, including Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, Safeway, ShopRite, Giant Stores, Gelsons, and more. Its availability will expand to more than 10,000 stores by the end of this year.
The Impossible nugget’s nationwide launch tour comes amid a rising trend in sustainable shopping, as consumers are becoming more conscious of the effects that manufacturing can have on the planet, its animals and wildlife, and other humans in poorer countries. Demand has skyrocketed for products such as coral reef-safe cosmetics, slave trade-free chocolates, and plant-based milks and meats. According to Impossible, production of its chicken nuggets uses 48-49% less land, 43-44% less water and generates 36% less greenhouse gas emissions than the animal version.
The company and its main competitor, Beyond Meat, have both seen burgeoning sales over the last year, and are now poised to become key players in the $1.4 trillion global meat market. And Impossible Foods, for its part, certainly has its sights set high: According to a report from Reuters in April, it’s currently eyeing a stock market IPO that could value the company at $10 billion or more.