So these cricket protein bars started showing up in my Facebook feed. Producer EXO Protein presents cricket-based nutrition as an idea whose time has come, and from a resources-in-food-out perspective, it does make a lot of sense.
The cricket used is the house cricket—Acheta domesticus. They’re cleaned, flash-frozen, roasted, and then pulverized into a powder called cricket flour.
Now I don’t have any particular hangup about eating insects. I really don’t see it as all that different from eating shrimp or lobster. However, I know what those taste like, and I know the ways in which they are commonly prepared. I have no comparable experience with crickets.
I got the four-pack sampler—that’s peanut butter and jelly, cocoa nut, blueberry vanilla, and banana bread—to my house for $9.
It seems to me that crickets are a bit down the (otherwise unremarkable) ingredient lists here—there are fruits and nuts ahead of them—but according to the FAQ, there are approximately 40 crickets in each bar.
So, OK. That’s significant.
Aaron and I tried the blueberry vanilla and banana nut flavors last night. Each bar had a crumbly and slightly sticky texture, something like a particularly caky brownie maybe. They smelled more inviting than not.
But they’re certainly not much to look at.
So how do they taste?
Bluntly, we didn’t like them. The texture is appealing enough in the mouth, but the tastes only sort of hint at what the ostensible flavors are. (I couldn’t really say that we “tasted the crickets.”) There’s an unpleasant aftertaste. It’s not an intolerably bad experience, but it’s not one you’d seek to repeat either. Neither of us had a third bite.
Now I am not an experienced protein bar consumer, so I don’t really have any baseline level of expectation for such a product. For all I know, these are delicious in context. Lea eats protein bars from time to time, so I asked her if she would try a small bite and offer her thoughts.
She got close—she held it to her lips—but then said “nope, I can’t eat this.” (No worries, dear. You got closer than I thought you would.)
So I purchased a “normal” protein bar for comparison. (It wasn’t a very close specified flavor analog of either EXO bar that I tried, but I didn’t have a large selection.) Guess what? I didn’t love it, but it was significantly tastier than the EXO bars. I ate it all. So, make of that what you will.
I’m not going to formally rate the EXO bars, because even with the late introduction of a control, I don’t have enough experience with protein bars to have an informed opinion. I could have finished an EXO bar, but I didn’t want to. That’s about the best thing I can say about them.
I do think I want to try the seasoned whole roasted crickets sometime soon. Stay tuned.