Insect in your food? It may be there intentionally. There’s a new wave of snack products hitting the market that hope to capitalize on entomophagy (the practice of eating insects) becoming more socially (and literally) palatable in the American diet. It’s true, bugs are not a common food ingredient for most of us. Perhaps that’s why manufacturers of insect-based foods are adding more familiar ingredients, such as peanut butter, to their products with the hope of making them more appetizing. But they are also pitching these products as an alternative to animal-based protein.
How about a peanut butter and cricket sandwich? No? Ok, we’re not there just yet. But there are two new snack bars available for purchase that combine peanut butter with what’s been dubbed a cricket “flour”. The meal is made by grinding up the dehydrated remains of those hopping, chirping arthropods.
Chapul, a company claiming to be the original cricket bar, has a product called Chaco Bar, which combines chocolate, peanut butter, and other natural ingredients with cricket flour. Another company, called Exo, offers a protein bar in Peanut Butter & Jelly flavor that also uses cricket flour as its base.
You might wonder what the purpose of incorporating cricket flour into a snack bar would be, besides testing one’s gag reflex. Well, it’s all about the protein. Some insect species, including house crickets from which the above mentioned flour is made, contain almost 69% protein per 100 grams of dry weight. That’s a lot of protein in such a small package. So, when added to the Exo Protein bar in PB&J flavor, it comes out to a whopping 10 gram of protein. That ‘ole bug has more to offer than what you probably thought.
We did a taste test on the PB&J Exo bar at our office. While I nervously anticipated an ambiguous crunch, the result of either peanut or cricket, it was actually soft and a little chewy. The flavor was mildly sweet, and light on the peanut butter and jelly. Overall it wasn’t that bad. And if it were not for the wrapper with the list of ingredients, I never would have guessed that it contained cricket.
So, maybe you’re moving at a snail’s pace on your route to becoming an entotarian. Perhaps the thought of consuming cricket is too much to swallow. That’s ok. You can always rely on the 7 grams of plant-based protein in peanuts to power your snack bar. And there are also peanut flours available that may prove to be more enticing than the milled product of our six-legged friends. But in the off chance that you were hoping for a peanut butter treat that incorporated the less conventional protein of insects, the answer is yes; there is a snack for that.