Advertisement

I had multiple people try the new Impossible hot dog vs. the real thing — here’s our verdict

 Impossible hot dog in bun.
Impossible hot dog in bun.

Just in time for grilling season, Impossible Foods has come out with the Impossible Beef Hot Dog, a faux frankfurter for those who are craving this ballpark essential, but for health, social, or other reasons, don't want to eat the real thing.

Impossible sent us a package of its new hot dogs to try out, so we did a semi-scientific taste test in the Tom's Guide offices to see how they compared to traditional hot dogs.

Will they stand up to the discerning palates of the Future staff members, or are these wannabe weiners a pale imitation?

In the past, I've taste-tested Impossible meat, and sought to find which restaurant made the best Impossible burger. We've also tried Impossible pork when it first came out, too.

Impossible hot dogs: Price and availability

Impossible hot dog packaging
Impossible hot dog packaging

Impossible's hot dogs will be released in the coming weeks to major retailers across the U.S. They'll cost $7.99/pack, which is slightly more than regular hot dogs, but on a par with Impossible's other products.

Like other hot dogs, the Impossible hot dogs will come in packs of six, while hot dog buns continue to come in packs of eight. Grrr.

Impossible hot dogs: health information

Impossible hot dog health info
Impossible hot dog health info

Let's get one thing clear right away: No hot dog, whether it's real or fake, will ever be considered health food. But, how does the Impossible Hot Dog compare to a beef hot dog? Here's how things break down next to a Welshire Farms Premium uncured beef frank.

Looking at the labels side by side, the Welshire Farms hot dog is higher in fats and cholesterol, but lower in sodium than the Impossible hot dog. Curiously, there's less protein in the Welshire hot dog, too. Where's the beef?

Impossible claims that its hot dog has 50% less saturated fat than the leading beef hot dogs, per 47 grams. And, their claim is pretty close. Since the Welshire Farms hot dog weighs more, when you even out the total weight at 47 grams, it has roughly 4.2 grams of saturated fat — not quite 5%, but not that far off.

However, the Impossible hot dog has a lot more sodium than the Welshire hot dog; leveling the weight at 47 grams, the Welshire dog would have 327mg of sodium to the Impossible's 430 mg.

Apart from dietary concerns, Impossible says that its products are better for the environment, too. According to the company, "Impossible Hot Dogs account for 84% less greenhouse gas emissions, 77% less water and 83% less land than an animal beef hot dog."

Impossible hot dogs: The taste test

To see how the Impossible Hot Dogs compared to beef hot dogs, I cooked up a batch of both at my office, using a Ninja Sizzle Indoor smokeless grill ($119, Amazon).

As soon as I opened both packages, it was pretty obvious which dogs were Impossible, and which weren't; the Impossible dogs were a bit smaller and paler compared the the Wilshire Farms hot dogs.

Impossible hot dog on grill
Impossible hot dog on grill

As the hot dogs cooked on the grill, I noticed that the sear marks that developed on the Impossible hot dogs weren't as aesthetically pleasing as the lines on the beef hot dogs; the latter also glistened more as their fats bubbled to the surface.

I had a half-dozen colleagues try both an Impossible hot dog and a Wilshire Farms hot dog on a brioche bun; some opted to add some mustard, while others ate them unadorned.

Pretty much unanimously, everyone was able to immediately identify the Impossible hot dog and the beef hot dog; not only did it have a more hot-dog-y flavor, but it also had the more satisfying mouthfeel, with that little snap as you bit into the hot dog.

One colleague, Jeff Goldstein, summed up this battle pretty well. Jeff said the Impossible dog was "very bland" and when he put a real hot dog in his mouth he knew instantly and exclaimed "aww, that's beef, baby!"

In some ways, this context reminded me of the hamburger cook-off in Parks & Rec:

Which is not to say that they disliked the Impossible hot dog; all said it was pretty good, with one person commenting that they probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference if they were only presented with the Impossible hot dog.

Avram Piltch, the Editor-in-Chief of Tom's Hardware, said he actually leaned towards the Impossible hot dogs, as he liked their taste, and was trying to cut meat out of his diet.

Impossible hot dogs
Impossible hot dogs

Impossible Hot Dogs: Verdict

impossible hot dog
impossible hot dog

So, should you go out and get Impossible hot dogs for your next barbecue? If you're looking for an ersatz brat that's lower in fat and ostensibly better for the environment than your regular all-beef hot dog, then it's worth giving them a go. While the Impossible hot dog isn't quite on a par with what it's trying to imitate, it's a good first attempt. And you don't have to worry so much about how the so-called sausage is made.