Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Would you eat a cricket in a novelty candy?

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Greg Peck
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I read a story in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel written by Karen Herzog. It seems that Allô! Chocolat, a Waukesha store, has crickets embedded in some novelty candies.

These farm-raised and edible—supposedly—insects include plenty of crunch, the exoskeleton and intact legs. Store owners hope customers will, um, cough up $1.89 apiece “to find out how many licks it takes to get to the cricket at the center of a Cricket Lick-It Lollipop,” Herzog writes.

Given that we're mere weeks away from summertime fair season, when it seems most anything edible gets fried and eaten, can deep-fried bugs be far behind?

“Edible insects may be novelties in the U.S. now, but they could become a mainstream, earth-friendly protein source in the decades to come,” Herzog writes. A UW-Platteville class surveyed consumers and found them open to the idea.

The Platteville students offered dry-roasted, FDA-approved crickets and “chocolate chirp cookies” made with cricket flour and chocolate-covered crickets to customers at Platteville's Driftless Market and to kids at the campus child care center.

The cookies went over well. Kids scooped up the nutty, dry-roasted crickets with little or no hesitation. Some diners complained, however, that the legs tended to get caught in their teeth.

Edible insects have caught the fancy of sustainability advocates in Madison (no surprise there). Nonprofit Sustain Dane featured a “bug buffet” including Sweet & Sour Silkworms, Hissing Cockroach Nigiri Sushi and Mealworm Latkes during a March fundraiser for the Madison Children's Museum. Can you say “Pass me another one?”

Herzog wrote that students in the UW-Platteville zoology class became convinced edible insects are for real after watching an online talk, “Why not eat insects?” featuring ecological entomologist Marcel Dicke.

“Dicke argues insects are a protein source comparable to beef, pork and chicken, and they produce less waste and less environmentally hazardous waste,” Herzog wrote. “They are more efficiently produced. And deadly food-borne illnesses and viruses have been linked to cattle, pigs and poultry.”

In case you were wondering, Herzog's online report included an online video of a store employee being the first to try the cricket lollipop. She suggested the chewy inside tasted like—you guessed it—chicken.

Would you try one?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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