The New Yorker Recounts the History of Tofurky

The acclaimed publication spotlights the 22-year legacy of the vegan holiday roast in time for Thanksgiving.

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A recent feature published by media outlet The New Yorker outlined the serendipitous history of the Tofurky holiday roast. “In its 22-year history,” writer Jonathan Kauffman stated, “that plump, beige creation—honeydew-like in weight and circumference, filled with a cylindrical core of wild-rice stuffing whose flavor is not significantly different from its chewy, tofu-and-gluten shell—has become a requisite part of vegetarian-friendly Thanksgiving tables from San Francisco to Kalamazoo.” Kauffman explained that Tofurky founder Seth Tibbott—who was interested in taking tempeh mainstream in the 1970s—met couple Hans and Rhonda Wrobel, who were making a tofu-based Thanksgiving roast in small batches. After Tibbott accidentally created a tempeh burger that tasted like Thanksgiving dinner thanks to the cranberries and wild rice he used in the recipe, Tibbott partnered with the Wrobels to create a feast that featured his failed burger (in the form of tempeh-based drummettes), which he sold alongside the Wrobles’ tofu roast under the company Turtle Island Foods. “The first frozen Tofurky meal,” Kauffman wrote, “priced at $30, was a hard sell with retailers and a mad success with the customers who managed to find it.” After more than two decades—and some tweaks to the original product—this year, the company is readying to sell its 5 millionth Tofurky roast.