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“Jon McIntyre, a biochemist who has worked in the food industry for 26 years, can tell you exactly what makes a hamburger so good. “That first bite, where your teeth sink through the meat — there’s texture to it, and flavor,” he says. “If it’s a really good, juicy burger, that flavor pushes out from your teeth, almost into the sides of your mouth, and you feel that really great sensation of the moisture. The flavor, you can almost taste it in your nose — that’s called retronasal.”
This harmony of taste, texture, and smell — call it the Full Burger Experience — is extremely complicated. Think of it as a trillion-piece jigsaw puzzle of animal proteins and fats and acids and fibers. Yet the notion that one can attain FBE without killing a cow is, suddenly, among the most lucrative ideas in food. Led by companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, high-tech, plant-based burger patties aimed at carnivores who want to fight climate change have seen soaring sales at restaurants like Burger King, White Castle, and TGI Friday’s. Nestlé, the largest food company in the world, just announced plans to bring a plant-based burger to U.S. supermarkets by fall. Plant-derived burgers from start-ups such Before the Butcher (just acquired by a major ground-beef producer) and Hungry Planet are also on schedule to debut before the end of the year.
It’s a plant-protein arms race, and everyone has a gimmick: Beyond’s latest burger, released in June, is studded with coconut fat and cocoa fat to mimic the marbling of beef, while apple-juice extract helps the patties brown during cooking. When Nestlé’s Awesome Burger hits stores (under the company’s Sweet Earth label), vital wheat gluten will give it a beeflike texture. A patty called the Perfect Burger, launched two weeks ago by Dr. Praeger’s, offers beet-juice “blood,” a shtick that some competitors have already ditched. The Impossible Burger has soy leghemoglobin, a molecule related to the hemoglobin in cow (and human) blood but found in the roots of soy plants. It’s this heme, as it’s called, that gives Impossible’s faux meat the iron flavor of your favorite burger.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"The likely successor to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Boris Johnson, has plans to subsume the government department overseeing development aid into the foreign office, effectively eliminating it. That will destroy a post-Brexit United..."
"Gerard Baker, editor-at-large at the Wall Street Journal (no reflexively anti-Trump publication) recently wrote a piece decrying Donald Trump and his foreign policy as a fount of erratic unpredictability. This essay will give the counter view...."
"On Wednesday, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced that she will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming weeks. Omar will be accompanied by Rep. Rashida Tlaib. The two freshman congresswomen have become a focal point of..."
"Netflix may have lost US subscribers for the first time since it began making its own shows, but that didn't stop the streaming giant from dropping new figures about how many people are sucked into its Adam Sandler vortex. (Spoiler: More than..."
"A few years ago, Amy Balliett, CEO of a Seattle-based design and marketing firm, noticed that as the work week slogged on, her employees’ energy and productivity wilted. “That would slump to such an extent that the same task on Monday would..."
"Over the last few days the #faceappchallenge has taken over social media. This “challenge” involves downloading a selfie-editing tool called FaceApp and using one of its filters to digitally age your face. You then post the photo of your wizened..."
"Although there are plenty of irrational aspects to life in modern America, few rival the odd fixation on lawns. Fertilizing, mowing, watering — these are all-American activities that, on their face, seem reasonable enough. But to spend hundreds..."
"Can a book change the way we think? I don’t mean that in the sense of a reader’s opinion or ideology shifting—of course the right literary work can do that. But can a book rewire the brain itself, literally changing the way one particular mind..."
"It’s our job to let kids know we see and hear them, but we’re not necessarily going to solve siblings’ conflicts for them (or else they never get the practice). When squabbles start, imagine you’re a sportscaster and describe what you see in..."
"Magali Trejo-Martinez, a 22-year-old living in Salem, Oregon, recently went on a date that was rather uninspiring. “I had dinner, had a couple margaritas, and then went home,” is how she recapped the evening. This outcome wasn’t entirely..."
"The first lunar landing was many things — a D-Day-like feat of planning and logistics, a testament to the power of man's will, an ostensible propaganda coup for NATO. It was also, I think, one of the most misunderstood events in the history of..."
"THE FIRST TIME Bernie Sanders ran for president, he didn’t talk much about being Jewish. In fact, he didn’t talk much about himself at all. His 2016 primary campaign, like his whole political career, was relentlessly focused on one topic: income..."