WTF Is It And Should You Try It?

WTF Are Cricket Cookies And Should You Try Them?

"It tastes like chocolate corn flakes!"

WTF Is It And Should You Try It? is an original A Plus Lifestyle series: Every now and then, we take a closer look at the lifestyle trends taking over our news feeds and find out whether they're worth the hype.

A few years ago, I wrote about a Boston-based startup founded by three women on a mission to make eating bugs mainstream in the United States. The company, called Six Foods, sold different flavors of chips made with a very special ingredient: dried crickets milled into a protein powder. 

Eating bugs is traditionally seen as bizarre in the U.S., but more and more companies are working to turn consumers on to the health benefits of crickets: Exo makes cricket protein bars, Critter Bitters makes cocktail bitters made from toasted crickets, and Chapul makes chocolate with cricket flour. 

In the time since I first interviewed them, Six Foods has rebranded themselves as Chirps, altered their packaging, and even made their way onto Shark Tank. So, when they recently reached out to tell me they were now selling a cricket cookie mix, I knew I had to try baking cricket cookies for my friends to teach them what they were all about. 


But first, why would someone want to eat crickets anyway?

It's estimated that over two billion people around the world currently eat insects as part of their diet. For the past few years, researchers have been calling insects the "food of the future" because of their health and environmental benefits. 

"Crickets are one of the most sustainable protein sources out there! To make a pound of beef, it takes over 2000 gallons of water, but to make a pound of crickets, only one. If you look at the statistics, you see these kinds of numbers across the board in terms of land, greenhouse gas emissions, feed conversions, et cetera," Laura D'Asaro, one of Chirps founders, told A Plus.  

In general, insects tend to be high in protein and low in carbohydrates. In particular, crickets are densely nutritious and are an excellent source of lean protein, iron, calcium, and B12

"Crickets have twice the protein of beef, more iron than spinach, and more B12 than salmon," D'Asaro said.  

Raising livestock can be inhumane, as many animals are put into such close quarters, they can barely move, and are fed antibiotics to promote growth. Crickets, on the other hand, live in close quarters naturally. 

And, when it comes time to eat them, these cold-blooded animals are put in the freezer, where they will easily go to sleep without ever waking up again. 

"We realized we had a game-changing protein. We just had to figure out how to get people excited about eating it," D'Asaro said.

What do bugs taste like?

Let's face it, there's an "ick factor" associated with eating bugs — the sight of them, their texture, everything. For this reason, those creating products made with crickets often mill them into powders. 

Most cricket food products in the U.S. don't look, feel, smell, or taste like crickets. 

I tried making Chirps's chocolate chip cricket cookie mix to see if they'd be any different from regular cookies. 

The process, like with most cookie mixes, is pretty simple. I combined the cricket cookie mix, one egg, vanilla extract, and melted butter in a bowl. I quickly realized that the butter was so hot it melted a ton of the chocolate chips resulting in a dark brown batter, but I continued on and refrigerated it for about two hours. Once the mix was firm, I separated the mix into little cookie balls, placed them on a baking sheet, and put them in the oven for 15 minutes. After taking a bite, I realized the butter incident didn't make much of a difference. They tasted awesome. 

So, I proceeded to feed them to friends and family without telling them about the whole bug thing, knowing beforehand no one had related dietary restrictions or moral oppositions, of course. 

"It tastes like chocolate corn flakes," one of my friends said, after her first bite. 

"There's lots of different textures going on. I like that they're crunchy and chewy at the same time," another friend remarked. 

"They smell so good!" my 12-year-old brother said. "I really like them!" 

Photo provided by Ariana Marini

Then, I broke the news about the six-legged secret ingredient. And, you know what? Not one of the 10 people I served these cookies to were grossed out. Instead, they were pleasantly surprised. Most of them had never eaten insects before, but found that the fact that they were in a delicious cookie made them easier to eat. Once they learned about the health benefits, they were excited to hear they could actually get some nutrition from these cookies, too. The cricket flour turned a guilty pleasure into something they could feel a little less guilty about. 

"I can't tell the difference. We're eating goddamn bugs, and I can't tell the difference between these and regular chocolate chip cookies," one friend said. 

I asked whether they'd be interested in eating fried up crickets in the future and mixed feelings were expressed. Some felt more adventurous after having tried the bug cookies. Others just weren't about it. 

"If you tried to serve me a plate of fried up crickets, I'd throw the plate in your face." 

Alright, so maybe some people will have to stick to chips and cookies for now.

Photo provided by Ariana Marini

So, should you try it?

If you're interested in eating cookies or chips high in protein, allowing your tastebuds to explore something a little different, and supporting young female entrepreneurs, then absolutely.

However, there are some key things you should keep in mind. Each cookie may have 1 gram of protein, but it also has 11 grams of sugar. It's still a cookie. Chirps snacks are also pricier than your average cookie mix or bag of chips likely because the cost of ingredients are higher. The chips range from $12 to $16 per bag and the cookie mix retails for $10. 

Lastly, if you have a crustacean shellfish allergy, you may also be allergic to crickets, so don't eat them. 

Cover image via MeePoohyaPhoto / Shutterstock


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