The kids saw these Chapul Cricket Bars on “Shark Tank” a while back, so naturally we had to order some and give them a try — especially after the UN came out with that report a while back suggesting humans should start cultivating insects as food.
These bars come in three flavors: Aztec (dark chocolate/coffee/cayenne), Thai (coconut/ginger/lime) and Chaco (peanut butter/chocolate). A sampler pack of 2 bars of each flavor cost $18 plus shipping. Yes, there really are crickets in there, but it’s not like you crunch on actual bug bodies; they’re ground up into a flour.
Cricket flour isn’t the most prevalent ingredient, either. It’s listed fourth on the Thai bar (after dates, almond butter and cashews) and the Chaco bar (after dates, peanuts and organic raw honey) and third on the Aztec bar (after dates and cocoa).
We did a two-part taste test — one in which the tasters knew they were eating insects, and one in which they didn’t.
Test One: Full Disclosure
As I said, the kids ASKED me to order these cricket bars. When they arrived, however, both Cassie and Colleen refused to taste them. (Colleen cited her vegetarianism as an excuse; Cassie just didn’t feel like it.) Ben, however, clearly had no problem eating ground-up bugs. He not only broke into the stash of bars ahead of the scheduled taste test, but he snuck an entire Chaco bar later — even though I told him we were saving them for a second test.
Ben liked both the Thai and Chaco bars but didn’t care for the Aztec bar. “It wasn’t the cayenne,” he said. “That was fine. It was just the coffee flavor. It was gross.”
Bob tried only the Aztec bar, out of curiosity. “They weren’t offensive, but they weren’t appealing, either,” he said. “They were kind of bland. It was easy to imagine them being packed with insect exoskeletons.”
I tried all three bars and thought they were… OK. Not gross because of the bug factor, just not so delicious I’d seek them out on their own.
Test 2: Surprise!
Next we took the remaining bars to Grandma’s house, describing them as “gourmet energy bars.”
My niece Madison was championing the Thai bars, telling everyone the ginger gave them a taste reminiscent of pumpkin pie. She was disappointed in the Chaco bar — perhaps because she was expecting something closer to a Reese’s peanut butter cup flavor. She was not a fan of the Aztec bar.
My sister-in-law Darcy was not overly generous with her assessment of any of the bars, indicating they were “slightly less appealing than cat crap.” (I should note that this was her comment even before we revealed the cricket factor.)
My sister Traci didn’t want to risk trying them because of her nut allergy. The funny thing was, she was scanning the package to figure out if nuts were included, but never realized they contained crickets. “I just thought that was the name of the bar,” she explained.
My brother Brent and brother-in-law Gunnar also tried a couple of bites before the secret ingredient was revealed. Neither one was a fan.
For the record, no one screamed or made retching noises when they realized they’d been eating crickets. But then, no one except Ben had a very big piece. It’s safe to say they’ve all likely consumed more insect parts in their regular diet than they did in this taste test.
While there may or may not be a future in humans cultivating insects for food, these bars don’t seem to be anything special, other than as a novelty item.
“They’re OK,” said Ben, who said he’d be willing to eat one but not buy one. “But they’re expensive and they’re not that great and they don’t even have that much protein.”