If you haven’t read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead recently (or ever), then congratulations, you’re neither Paul Ryan, nor an insufferable jerkwad. Early in the novel, its extremely unlikeable central character, Howard Roark, is expelled from his college architecture department, because he just wants to be an individual, man! Before he’s kicked out, the dean of the school asks Roark whether he thinks anyone will actually let him design buildings the way he wants to. “That’s not the point,” Roark replies. “The point is, who will stop me?”
While it's unlikely that a roast-beef-stained copy of The Fountainhead is currently being passed around Arby’s Test Kitchen, clearly, no one is stepping in to stop anyone over there. Otherwise, why would they have been allowed to sculpt, sous-vide, and roast a wad of ground turkey into an carrot-shaped abomination that they’ve called The Marrot.
As the video insinuates, the Marrot exists as a cheeky response to the rising popularity of meatless “burgers,” like Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger. According to The Wall Street Journal, nearly 20,000 restaurants currently offer the plant-based patties, including burger-focused chains like White Castle, Carl’s Jr., Red Robin, and a select number of Burger King locations. Arby’s, though, has already insisted that it would never.
In May, a vegan-focused website posted an article with the headline “Arby’s Looks to Add Plant-Based Impossible Meat to Menu,” and within 48 hours, Arby’s responded to essentially say absolutely the hell not. “Contrary to reports this week, Arby’s is not one of the restaurant companies interested in working with Impossible Foods,” an Arby’s spokesperson said. “The chances we will bring plant-based menu items to our restaurants, now or in the future, are absolutely impossible.”
So, in what is either an expert-level troll job or an attempt at overcompensating for the increasing and seemingly unstoppable growth in the popularity of vegan ‘meats’—or a combo of both—Arby’s has just made all of us look at its Marrot. “Plant-based meats are the latest incarnation of making vegetables look like what Americans really want, which is great, tasty meat,” Jim Taylor, Arby’s Chief Marketing Officer, said. “Universally, people know we’re supposed to eat vegetables every day. But 90 percent of American’s don’t eat the recommended amount. So we said if others can make meat out of vegetables, why can’t we make vegetables out of meat?”
The Marrot is made by rolling raw turkey breast into the shape of a carrot, cooking it sous-vide for an hour, covering it with a “special carrot marinade,” and then oven-roasting it for another hour—which seems extraordinarily labor-intensive for this unholy bastard that lives in the chasm between meat and veg. It is also the first in a series of “Meatables” that are, for now, only available in the confines of Arby’s own test kitchen… thankfully.
“We want to continue to innovate in the space of meat craft that never existed before in ways that are surprising and delicious, and exceed the expectations of what you can get through a drive-thru,” Taylor said.
The point is, who’s going to stop them?