Let them eat crickets: We tried and tested Czech-made insect chocolate

In addition to being environmentally friendly, the sweet treat could make a good stocking filler.

Ioana Caloianu

Written by Ioana Caloianu Published on 23.11.2022 13:30:00 (updated on 23.11.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

Eating crickets is a staple of any dystopia with a good bang for the buck – look no further than conspiracy theory website Natural News, which published this summer an apocalyptic-sounding piece titled "Welcome to your police state future: You will EAT CRICKETS and DRINK PEE on a floating prison barge."

Would sugar-coating – or rather covering cricket-flour bites in tasty outer layers make them more palatable? Intrepid members of the Expats.cz crew taste-tested a number of flavors from the Sens Crickets in chocolate line, with reviews coming up later in this article.

But first, why should we eat crickets? Other than matters of taste, are they safe to eat, and what kind of health benefits do they offer?

The proof is in the cricket flour

According to the article "Edible Crickets (Orthoptera) Around the World: Distribution, Nutritional Value, and Other Benefits—A Review," published in 2021 in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Nutrition, crickets are higher in protein than other animal meats, with a protein content ranging from 55 to 73 percent.

The high nutritional content with the presence of protein, essential amino acids, lipids, fatty acids, mineral elements, carbohydrates, energy, and the ease of farming make crickets promising as a sustainable food source.

Frontiers in Nutrition

Thanks to their nutritional content, crickets from the Czech company Sens can offer "the same protein quality as luxury beef" and up to eight times more protein for your muscles. They are also gluten-free and lactose-free.

An environmentally friendly alternative to meat

The case for eating crickets doesn't end with their health benefits. "The rearing of crickets as mini livestock seems to be more ecofriendly because of their low emission of greenhouse gases, low water and feed intake, and the small land requirement for their production as compared to livestock," writes Frontiers in Nutrition.

Let's look at numbers from Sens: to produce one beef steak, you need same amount of water used up during 10 hours of showering. Cricket farming, on the other hands, consumes up to 2,000 less water than beef farming, 12 times less feed, and produces up to 100 times less greenhouse gases.

Given that crickets can be "produced on locally available food substrates such as agriculture byproducts and weeds," as Frontiers in Nutrition notes, they can also play a role in cleaning the environment.

Should we go cricket picking anytime soon?

The short answer is no, unless you have too much time on your hands. Czech health food stores, both physical and online, offer a number of foods that contain cricket flour.

You can ease your way into the world of cricket-based delicacies with bread made from refined cricket flour, produced by Sens. The bread contains 10 percent cricket flour, the equivalent of 198 crickets per package. This ingredient makes it richer in fiber and protein than most traditional types of bread. Other offerings include chips and pasta, and a shake.

Do you have a sweet tooth, or do you like your food flaming hot? In that case, why not try crickets in chocolate; or roasted crispy crickets in three salty and one sweet flavors (the flavors are Chili and Lime, Tomato and Oregano, Barbecue Pepper, and Salt Caramel); or try the hottest cricket in the world and see if it lives up to its reputation, in a package with the flavors Carolina Reaper, Chipotle, Chili and Lime, and Wasabi. The crickets are not fried, but roasted, in high-quality cold-pressed organic sunflower oil.

The Sens crickets themselves come from a cricket farm in Thailand. The company's founders, Radek Hušek and Daniel Vach, said they considered insect farming for a number of years before settling on crickets, which people were more willing to accept as food than other bug alternatives, such as mealworms.

Additionally, their preparation for processing into edible form takes place in an ethical way; the first step is the chilling, which puts the crickets to "sleep" just as they naturally do in colder weather. While in this state of hibernation, their metabolism slows to a halt.

It's worth noting that, while the EU only made insect foods legal to eat in 2018, labelling them "traditional foods of third countries," other parts of the world have been less squeamish. Their consumption in Asia, Latin America, and Africa goes back to prehistoric times.

They are even mentioned in the Bible as one of the foods that God tells the Israelites are fit for their consumption: “These you may eat any kind of locust, cricket or grasshopper” (Leviticus 11: 22). 

Sounds cricket, but what about the taste?

Let's start with the presentation: the Sens chocolate crickets came in a designer box with four recipients shaped like test tubes. Sens said that the presentation is meant to make eating the crickets more fun, since you can pour them directly into your mouth. One test tube is enough for 10 people to test.

The outer layer of chocolate came in four flavors: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and milk chocolate with cinnamon. The chocolate itself is premium quality, thus a treat in itself.

The cricket choco box from Sens
The cricket choco box from Sens

Thanks to the chocolate factor, the crickets look a bit like breakfast cereal, or chocolate-covered party mix, in the words of an Expats.cz editor. The taste is also grainy, and a little on the nuttier side. Strangely enough, their flavor reminded me of Black Sea tadpole-goby fish, the kind that's fried in oil and eaten whole in Romanian and Bulgarian towns on the Black Sea. My cat was also a fan.

The texture is also that of breakfast cereals, making them a good pairing with yogurt. They could also work as toppings for your favorite desserts, or even ice cream.

While final opinions at our office on the merits of cricket treats were divided even after the taste test, many of us agreed that they could work well as an original gift for the holiday season.

Will you add chocolate crickets to your shopping list this holiday season?

Holy crickets, no! 52 %
Sure 33 %
I'm already a fan 15 %
33 readers voted on this poll. Voting is closed
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