For some reason, the hospital environment breeds the most interesting conversations. Mixed in with discussions about the drug addiction problem in America and whether or not watermelon counts as solid food, photographer Hannah Bibbo and I decided that we wanted to try baking cricket flour chocolate chip cookies.

About a week later, I hopped on Amazon, ordered this 100% cricket powder, and dug up this recipe for cricket flour chocolate chip cookies, AKA 'choco chirpies'.

milk, tea, coffee
Hannah Bibbo

Upon opening the bag of cricket flour and passing it around the kitchen to Hannah and our two brave taste-tester friends, I was feeling discouraged. The stuff smelled like the brine shrimp fish food that I fed to my African Dwarf frogs back in middle school.

Nonetheless, we forged on in this bizarre experiment. We tweaked the recipe in a few minor ways – using vegan butter and replacing the egg with applesauce to make the cookies nearly vegan (though I think the crickets would beg to differ on this designation), and adding a dash of cocoa powder to really bring out the chocolate flavor.

Hannah Bibbo

We tasted the dough and the group morale improved. There was definitely an earthy taste to the dough, but it was not an unpleasant taste. We cycled our first batch through the oven and the moment of truth arrived – the taste test of the finished product.

chocolate, peanut butter, butter, peanut
Hannah Bibbo

The four of us were all impressed. The cookies were chewy, chocolatey, and decidedly really tasty. We even agreed that they would still probably be good with proportionally more of the cricket flour.

However, the most interesting part of this experiment came later. We wrapped up a paper plate of these cookies, labeled them, and brought them to a birthday party. We offered one to our vegan hostess, fully disclosing the bizarre ingredient, and she willingly ate one – and liked it. Interpreting this as our seal of approval, we put the plate on the counter and kept an eye on it throughout the evening. We saw multiple people read the label, ask if it was for real, hesitate, and ultimately decide to give it a try – and multiple people went back for seconds.

pastry, candy, cake, chocolate cookie, sweet, cookie, chocolate
Hannah Bibbo

This bizarre baking experiment was meant to be for fun, but I think it also revealed the open-mindedness of our generation when it comes to food and food culture. Our generation is already known for having more diverse food interests and being more receptive to foreign cuisines than previous generations, but cricket flour is a whole new facet of this diversity.

Crickets have the potential to be a sustainable source of protein, and while I don’t think they’ll be replacing steaks or even tofu in the mainstream food scene any time soon, it is encouraging to see that our peers are interested in flexing their palate.