Impossible Sausage Links Gave Me Some Uncanny Valley Vibes

Impossible Sausage Links Gave Me Some Uncanny Valley Vibes
The Impossible Foods sausage link has an outer casing like a meat-based sausage. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

I am weird about eating meat. I generally prefer not to eat it at all, but since I’m already such a picky eater about everything else, I try to incorporate it into my diet lest I disappear into nothingness.

Real meat sometimes gives me a gag reflex, even when I enjoy its taste. It’s all about texture for me. If the texture isn’t there, there’s no way that I’ll open my heart up — or my palate, I guess — to enjoy what’s present.

I already told you how much I like fake meat, so I was hoping Impossible Foods’ new sausage links could take some of the ick factor away from eating actual sausage. Instead, they gave me a creepy feeling, like what I had in my mouth was too much like an animal to consist of plants. And while this is good news for fervent meat eaters looking for a plant-based alternative and vegetarians looking for more variety, the Impossible Sausage Links might seem too uncanny valley if meat is not your thing.

I can’t believe it’s not pig

Impossible Foods has launched three flavours of plant-based sausage links, which are supposed to mimic the look and feel of natural pork. They come in bratwurst, Italian, and spicy styles, the latter of which I was able to test on my family.

Plant-based meat isn't exactly known for its aesthetics.  (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)Plant-based meat isn’t exactly known for its aesthetics. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

The Impossible Foods sausage comes packaged similarly to its other products. Each package contains four sausage “dogs” that are too thick for a standard hot dog bun but thin enough they can all fit into a pan if you have one that’s big enough in diameter. The actual sausage itself looks like any other meat alternative: a bland, beige tube with a meat-like concoction stuffed into it — to be fair, animal-based sausage looks this way, too.

The Impossible Foods sausage features a plant-based casing, which the company says should help imitate that “satisfying snap” that meat-eaters love. After taste-tasting the spicy sausage, I realised that it’s also the part I like the least on the actual sausage link.

Easy to cook

These lumpy veggie dogs look more appetizing once they're browned.  (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)These lumpy veggie dogs look more appetising once they’re browned. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

I prefer fake meat to the real stuff because it’s super easy to cook, and the same goes for the Impossible Foods sausage. Heat some oil, toss the sausage in the pan, and warm it up until it’s 160-degrees Fahrenheit on the inside. You can also heat it on a grill outside for 10-12 minutes or in the oven at 375-degrees.

The Impossible Foods sausage links look like those water wigglers when raw. It’s not the most appetising appearance, and it’s clear this is fake meat attempting to disguise itself as the real thing. It looks much more authentic once it’s browned in the pan. As we were cooking the spicy sausage for lunch, my husband and I noticed a bit of bubbling up from the imitation casing, similar to how a real pork sausage would cook.

Too real for me

Impossible Sausage Links Gave Me Some Uncanny Valley Vibes

I fed the spicy sausage to four different family members. They all had an opinion on it. One person said the sausage was tasty enough to pass for the real thing and that it offered a reminiscent crunchiness on the first bite. Another person thought it was too spicy for their liking, though I thought the flavour reminded me of the attic-aged Romanian sausage links I grew up eating with my breakfast.

My husband also felt the sausage didn’t taste far off from real meat — until you got to the inside. Sausage links typically feature meat compacted into a tube-like shape. When it cooks, it expands a bit, but the Impossible Foods spicy sausage doesn’t have the same effect.

You can see a sliver of the casing on the Impossible Foods sausage link. It's best cut with a sharp knife. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)You can see a sliver of the casing on the Impossible Foods sausage link. It’s best cut with a sharp knife. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

I realised what he meant as I cut through my sausage with a serrated knife, and bits of it came crumbling apart. The spicy variant was delicious with a slice of hearty toasted sourdough, but it lacked the density of a bite of perfectly-packed sausage. Still, even with all the crumbly bits, the texture had me tasting it like it was the real thing.

Eating is hard for picky folks like me. I haven’t been happier about eating since all of these plant-based alternatives came down the pipeline to rescue me from the nauseating feeling of realising there’s a tendon in my mouth. If you’re sensitive about food texture the way I am, the Impossible Foods sausage links might be too close to the real thing to convert you. At the very least, once I reminded myself it wasn’t an animal, I had no problem finishing half a link. If you do like meat, the consistency of these franken-sausages may be too far off to convince you.

I still prefer some of Impossible Foods’ other products to this particular one, namely the Whopper, as it’s in patty form, and the Wild Nuggies, which pretend to be chicken. But how I feel is also a testament to how well Impossible Foods has managed to recreate the reality of eating meat without actually involving any animals.