If you’d asked me about my relationship with the chicken nugget before I tried the Impossible version, I’d have denied all knowledge of the things. Though I’m sure I must have eaten them growing up, until Impossible’s golden, perfectly oval discs appear under my nose, I have next to no memory of it. But one whiff of that weird more-chickeny-than-actual-chicken scent and I’m back at a 10th birthday tea at the local leisure centre, thrilling with the excitement of normally forbidden fruit – because, as one bite confirms, nuggets are, I’m afraid, delicious, however old you are … and whatever they’re made from.
Fresh from the fryer, these have a crisp, gratifyingly greasy breaded shell, and a highly seasoned interior that’s as salty and savoury as any turkey dinosaur – to my relief there’s no trace of the aggressive amounts of dried herbs usually employed by meat substitutes hoping to disguise the fact they have all the flavour of their cardboard packaging. The texture is juicy and ever-so slightly bouncy in the peculiar fashion of highly processed meat, but with (I poke it with a cautious finger) just enough discernible strands of fluff in there to vaguely remind one of the real thing.
Because that’s the point here. Impossible are not, I’m imagining, attempting to recreate a chicken breast goujon, they’re mimicking a chicken nugget, which is, frankly, a very different beast. Ross Forder, founder of vegan chain Halo Burger, which has just put them on the menu, agrees they’re very much a “fast food nugget” whose nostalgic associations are a large part of its appeal. I suggest that, at the east London location where we’re sitting, a lot of the late-night crowd will never twig what they’re actually eating. He laughs. I get the feeling that’s kind of the idea.