“Guys this isn’t an ad or anything. I found Nuggs on Instagram a while ago and I’m f***ing addicted.” It was high praise coming from anyone. But when it’s coming from supermodel Bella Hadid in a story visible to her 50 million–plus Instagram followers, you’ve got a hit product on your hands.
Nuggs, a pseudo-chicken nugget product from plant-based meat brand Simulate, took the social media momentum and ran with it. Hadid’s post came in August 2020; since then the company has struck deals with FoodTok superstars Ramen King Ivan (7.6 million followers) and Jayy Rene (1.9 million followers). Meanwhile, the influencer traffic kept flowing from the likes of YouTuber Olivia Rouyre (835,000 subscribers) and model-slash-Instagrammer Josie Canseco (1.2 million followers).
The attention—the right kind of attention from the right kind of people—has helped Simulate and Nuggs stand out in a crowded market that already has a few dominant players in Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Retail giants including Amazon and Target, meanwhile, are in the process of developing their own plant-based faux-chicken lines. Nuggs is trying to occupy the too-cool-for-school seat as the anti-establishment rebel that somehow still manages to beat the big contenders at their own game.