Looking for a new kind of wings to serve during the Final Four? A Texas-based company called Aspire Food Group suggests you grab a bag of Aketta, its new brand of snack crickets that come in five very potato-chippy flavors, like Texas BBQ and Sour Cream & Onion. They’re just 150 calories per serving, pack in 13 grams of protein, and — according to samples sent to The Wall Street Journal — taste like a six-legged variety of corn nuts.
CEO Mohammed Ashour tells the paper that Aspire — goal: to make eating insects “normal” — jumped on the entomophagy bandwagon because he wants to do his part to help fix the world’s food-shortage crisis, but also because he legitimately thinks young people like crickets. For now, though, the Aketta sales pitch involves a little bit of subtlety. From the Journal:
To help Americans overcome the taboo of eating bugs, the 30-year-old entrepreneur decided not to put the word “crickets” on the front of the bag, but to call the snacks Aketta, short for Acheta domesticus — the species of cricket contained within. “Insects are gross,” Mr. Ashour explains. “But what we farm are not insects because they are not in the wild.”
Aspire’s 13,000-square-foot cricket farm, meanwhile — which is located in a formerly abandoned warehouse outside Austin — sounds like a fun place to bring an exterminator, without telling him where you guys are headed:
Once the crickets are older and chirping, it can get crowded in the open boxes, causing the insects to fight over resources like water and the organic corn feed Aspire provides them, so the farm has to be careful not to put too many in each box. But, says [COO Gabe Mott]: “They have everything they need; most don’t feel the urge to get out.”
The bugs live inside stacks of cardboard-box “condominiums.” But no worries — they’re raised as humanely as possible, though Aspire admits a few “nurturing” incidents occurred early on. (The team once apparently tried boosting the protein in the organic-corn feed by 20 percent, but that killed the entire batch.) Harvesting them involves a “peaceful death” by freezer, then they get roasted with olive and canola oil, dashed with seasoning, and strategically placed in bags where the word cricket “appears only in small type in the ingredients list.”
Despite pulling a fast one with the packaging, Ashour is sure health-conscious snackers do want bagfuls of whole, half-inch bugs. It could honestly be a brilliant diet: What better way to watch calories than to try to pop a dead insect with beady, black eyes into your mouth?