In recent months there have been a host of opportunities around New York City to consume free sweets for the small price of a mandatory insect topping thanks to The Economist‘s wildly creative promotional pop-ups promoting bug-consumption as a protein-alternative.
Today until 4:30pm the bug brigade has put up camp in Dumbo, on the corner of Water and Jay streets, and is offering a free waffle from the beloved Wafels and Dinges food truck with one topping (Nutella, whipped cream, Speculoos or fudge) of your choice … and either mealworms or crickets. If you get both insects, you get two toppings.
But should even the brokest Brokest Brokester’s limits for taking free food break down at bugs? I tried it to find out.
The line for the free waffles was not long, although there was a line.
Feeling cocky, I went for the double bug option and paired it with Nutella and fudge, figuring it would be less awful to eat the critters if they were covered in thick chocolate goop as opposed to the thin veil of cover whipped cream would provide. Despite the caloric brown cover of the traditional toppings, the crickets still managed to stick their roach-like, antenna-d heads through the goop. As well, most of my insects were centered in the four middle squares of my waffle, and most of the chocolate ended up on the perimeter. It was the visual component that made consumption the hardest.
I have eaten chocolate-covered crickets before, but they were totally encased, not an antenna showing. In that instance, it was chewy and generally pleasant, and I avoided looking too closely at the cricket between bites. When it comes to eating bugs, my minimal experience has taught me that it comes down to not over-thinking it: do not let your mind wander to that bug scene in Snowpiercer, to the notion that these critters could still be alive. In this case, most likely any nausea you feel will not be triggered by a bodily reflex but an inability to stop your mind from having nightmarish bug visions.
Neither bug had much to offer taste-wise, but in terms of texture the crickets were quite crunchy, like almonds, and the mealworms had a definitive crumble to them, like sunflower seeds.
It was not an unpleasant experience, but the center four squares, in their intense bug density, were simply too much for me, and I threw them out: I would not fare well in a protein apocalypse.
In conclusion, yes it’s worth it, but really, don’t look at it if you can help it or you might not be able to finish.