This protein powder is like whey, but made out of crickets.

It’s been two years since the United Nations urged the world to eat more bugs. They’re plentiful, nutritious, and potentially less destructive to cultivate than livestock. Millions of people around the world already eat insects as part of a healthy diet—now if only Westerners could overcome their learned disgust and get on board. Maybe loading them into junk food is the key?

Drink up.

This summer, the bug-eating cause will get help from an unlikely quarter: an American burger joint. Wayback Burgers, a Connecticut-based fast-casual chain, is launching an Oreo mud pie milkshake made with cricket protein. The insects are ground up and flavored with chocolate before they’re added to the mix, so you don’t have to see the legs, shells, or beady little eyes that might activate your gag reflex. A regular 22-ounce cricket milkshake packs 20 grams of protein—about the same as a scoop of whey powder, and only slightly grosser.

The concept started as an April Fool’s Day joke, according to a Wayback Burgers press release. When customer response turned out to be “incredibly positive,” the company decided to turn that prank into a reality, aiming to cash in on the current vogue for fortified, nutrient-rich liquid meals (think juices, protein shakes, Soylent). Meanwhile, there are already a number of start-ups producing cricket-based foods such as cookies and energy bars, all of them disguising the bugs’ segmented bits in forms that Americans recognize. At the intersection of these trends—the utilitarian and the adventurous—is the young foodie, into both locally-sourced, sustainable produce and greasy-spoon Americana.

Is the cricket milkshake a gimmick? Definitely. But it’s also the most mainstream inroads yet for entomophagy in America.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A young refugee from Kosovo stands in front of a map of Hungary with her teacher.

    Who Maps the World?

    Too often, men. And money. But a team of OpenStreetMap users is working to draw new cartographic lines, making maps that more accurately—and equitably—reflect our space.

  2. A LimeBike and LimeBike-S are pictured.

    I Have Seen the Future of Urbanism and It's a Scooter

    While you’re still trying to figure out dockless bikes, there’s a new two-wheeler to share around town. It could be a bigger deal than you think.

  3. Life

    Amazon Go Might Kill More Than Just Supermarkets

    Supermarkets are community anchors. Amazon’s “just walk out” version embodies a disconcerting social transformation.

  4. Design

    The Seductive Power of a Suburban Utopia

    Serenbe, an intentional community outside Atlanta, promises urban pleasures without the messiness of city life.

  5. Transportation

    6 Ideas for a Better New York Subway

    The beleaguered system looked outside its own ranks for ambitious new fixes.