When I was a little kid, Burger King’s signature Whopper sandwich persuaded me to like tomatoes. The Colorado town I grew up in has one and it was one of my jobs in high school.

Although you can have it your way and not have them, tomatoes are standard on the burger.

And Burger King did it to me again.

Last week, I tried one of their Impossible Whoppers. It’s not beef that makes the burger but various plants processed to create something like a hamburger patty for the Impossible. Soy is a common ingredient in the Impossible.

I respect the restaurant industry for offering something vegetarian knowing there are people who prefer those diets.

After weeks of seeing the ads and reading the commentary, I was curious to try one.

I didn’t want to alter my typical fast-food strategy, so I ordered the Impossible Whopper like I would a beef Whopper – with everything on it – including the tomato. I figured if I ordered the Impossible only with ketchup, for example, it wouldn’t have been a fair comparison to beef.

I was impressed with the Impossible. Very impressed.

The comments in the Impossible commercials were not wrong. I couldn’t taste a difference. If I didn’t know what I ordered, I would have guessed it was beef.

Honest.

From start to finish, I liked what I ordered. If I had to say something was different, it may have had a slight, smoky taste which did not take away from the quality. Purely guessing, that taste may be because how the plants were processed or cooked. Who knows? Not everyone has the same taste buds.

The fast-food giant is not done with alternatives to meats. Burger King is working on an alternative to pork to be used as sausage for its breakfast sandwiches.

I’ll draw the line there. Hogs invented bacon. They know what they are doing. Don’t mess with perfection.

I was not done with my vegetarian adventure after Burger King.

I also tried Runza’s vegetarian sandwich the same week. I don’t always order the traditional Runza when I’m there (I favor their Spicy Jack hamburger). I’ve thought Runza’s hamburgers are underrated. The beef tastes like how I like my hamburgers made at home.

The vegetarian Runza was not as strong flavored as the traditional, original beef Runza. But Runza isn’t the typical fast-food chain. I think the bread that completely surrounds the filling adds more to the Runza experience than a typical bun with a hamburger. The bread was excellent with my vegetarian Runza. The filling was fine, but it didn’t stand out as much as the Impossible Whopper.

Coincidentally, it appeared I was at Clarinda’s Runza after the evening rush as my order was fresh and hot.

There’s one thing to remember. It’s common for restaurant review writers to visit an establishment more than once to get a complete, thorough review. They don’t want to come to a conclusion after one visit. I could go to Runza next week and have a stronger flavored vegetarian, but what I had the first time was not disappointing.

I grew up on beef and pork. I can’t say I will order another Impossible Whopper or vegetarian Runza in the future. But if this column isn’t obvious, if someone asks me about either of them, I will say to try either one.

I give Burger King and Runza the credit for trying to stay a step ahead of their customers’ interests and lifestyles.

The traditional food industry, if I can call it that, is in the headlines other than the addition of alternatives to beef.

Two, major milk processing companies have filed for bankruptcy since November because the dairy product is losing popularity. Some reports state about 3,000 family dairy farms quit last year and nearly 100,000 have stopped since the early 1990s. Dairy milk has more competition now. Diets and eating habits have drastically changed.

Retail shopping is not what it was. Newspapers are not what they were. Certain aspects of the food industry can say the same thing.

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