Cicada Ice Cream? A Big Buzz That Was Short Lived

cicada on blades of grass photo.jpg

Photo via skantman's flickr

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you cicadas, make ice cream? It may not make sense to many of us, but that is what the owners of Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream in Colombia, Missouri did. Cicadas are back and buzzing in many states this year, including Missouri. Millions of these insects, which appear every 13-years, have been swarming vast stretches of the South and Midwest, noisily searching for mates. The owners at Sparky's, always up for a new flavor challenge, decided to try adding some extra crunch and protein to a brown sugar and butter flavor ice cream base by adding boiled cicadas. The flavor had a big debut on June 1st and was an immediate hit, and sold out its initial and only batch. The flavor had a short lived run after the owners called the health department.The health department didn't prevent Sparky's from serving the cicada ice cream. Sparky's had initiated the call to inquire about the safety of serving insect ice cream, the health department officials "advised against the use of cicadas in the ice cream because the department did not have information regarding cooking temperatures for cicadas" So Sparky's owners decided to stop selling the flavor, as they were not in it for the shock factor, but simply to create a flavor that tastes "really, really good."

The cicadas were collected by employees from their backyards, the employees then removed the dead cicadas' wings and fully cooked the insects by boiling them in hot hater. The cicada were then covered in brown sugar and milk chocolate.

Although 65% of Americans CNN polled said they would not try the unique ice cream flavor, entomophagy, the practice of eating bugs, is accepted and popular in many parts of Africa and Latin America. A taqueria in San Francisco was recently banned from serving their popular grasshopper tacos and fried tarantula tortas. Proponents say that bugs are a healthy and sustainable food source, high in protein. Some people say even they taste like nuts.

Bug products are also in many foods sold in the U.S. Artificial colors are often produced from cochineal extract and carmine color additives from the dried bodies of the female cochineal bug. The FDA only required that cochineal be labeled on the back of products as recently as last January.

Although Sparky's will not be making more cicada ice cream, they do have a bugless version with less protein. You could also always give it a go at your own at home. At least for the season, there are plenty of cicadas for everyone.

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