Today, startup SIMULATE launched its newest product DISCS, plant-based chicken patties made with a proprietary blend of soy and wheat. Founded in 2018 by then 19-year-old technology entrepreneur Ben Pasternak, SIMULATE—which positions itself as “the Tesla of chicken”—creates “simulations” of plant-based products and uses customer feedback to iterate versions to better approximate their animal-derived counterparts. The new DISCS come in packaging that features a computer disc drive designed to evoke nostalgic feelings of the era of older technologies. DISCS are available for purchase through SIMULATE’s website in two formats: one eight-patty box for $34.99 and a two-box pack of 16 patties for $44.99.
Mimicking the process used by software companies, SIMULATE’s flagship product, NUGGS plant-based chicken nuggets, went through several iterations with the help of its BETA TESTERS (a community of customers) to refine the plant-based nuggets in terms of taste and texture. “Some of the challenges we had to work through include figuring out the best plant-based protein for the ‘chicken nuggets’ along with making sure to get the texture, flavor, and overall look of the NUGGS to be as similar as possible to the chicken nuggets you grew up eating,” Pasternak told VegNews. “The first version of our NUGGS was at a 97-percent dissatisfaction rating and now our current 2.0 version is a much higher rating, proving that our NUGGS have come a long way already.”
The new DISCS—which currently have a 92.4-percent satisfaction rate—will follow a similar trajectory, iterating the product and sharing “release notes” to foster transparency about the adjustments SIMULATE is making to its products. “Our goal from the beginning is to create very approachable entry points into plant-based foods and evolving from NUGGS into DISCS was the next natural step,” Pasternak said. “We wanted to create our version of a ‘chicken patty’ that was an upgrade from the nostalgic cafeteria food of our youth and a very popular request among our community on social media and BETA TESTERS. We’re confident that DISCS will be as universally enjoyed as our NUGGS and opens more opportunities for users to integrate SIMULATE products into their lives.”
Chicken without sacrifice
Earlier this year, Simulate raised $4.1 million in new capital—bringing its total funding to more than $15 million—with the help of Whole Foods chief executive Walter Robb, model Jasmine Tookes, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Armed with new funding, Pasternak aims to continue to create familiar products with less environmental impact than animal agriculture. “We are laser-focused on creating products that are healthier, tastier, and more efficient than their meat counterpart, starting with plant-based chicken alternative meat simulations,” Pasternak said. “Our goal is to create really great products, so that making the choice to eat a SIMULATE meal is an easy one with no pressure added. If by doing so we are taking small steps to support our environment, that’s an added bonus.”