The Hema OokWorst (‘also a sausage’), a vegetarian version of its bestselling counterpart rookworst (smoked sausage) has met with mixed reviews as curious buyers bought up the entire stock on Monday.
‘What makes the rookworst an icon is its unique taste,’ Hema meat product managers Demi Tammer and Lisanne Rahusen told the Volkskrant. ‘It was a big challenge and it took us almost a year to come up with a good vegetarian equivalent.’
Although Monday’s supply quickly sold out it remains to be seen if it will take its place among the other Hema staples, such as the tompouce cream slice, and, of course, the original rookworst.
‘The rookworst may only represent a small part of the Hema revenue but it is hugely important for its image. By making a vegetarian version the Hema shows it is moving with the customers’ wishes, marketing expert Cor Molenaar said.
The OokWorst, which, at €3.50, is a euro more expensive that the meat version, contains vegetable oil, pea fiber and free range egg products. The sausage is not only meat free, nor has it been ‘smoked over a woodchip fire for seven hours’ like the rookworst, a claim the Hema successfully defended against consumer organisation Consumentenbond in 2009.
It also lacks the strong smoky flavour of the rookworst, according to the Volkskrant’s verdict and, because, unlike the meat version, it is not sold as a takeaway snack it does not lure customers with its pervasive smell.
The structure of the OokWorst was judged ‘ok’ and its bite snappier than other vegetarian sausages.
Chef Pierre Wind invited by the AD to give his opinion commented that ‘the e-number must have come for free’ but judged the sausage to be ‘not bad in the vegetarian segment.’
But it’s not a patch on the real thing, Wind said. ‘It’s the fat that makes it so tasty. For me a Hema rookworst is always a culinary orgasm,’ he admitted.