Cricket Protein Milk Shakes Are the Frosty Ticket to Sustainabilty

A Connecticut-based burger chain is pioneering a creepy-crawly new dessert that may have positive environmental impacts.

(Photo-illustration: TakePart; photo: Wayback Burgers)

Jun 29, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Josh Scherer has written for Epicurious, Thrillist, and Los Angeles magazine. He is constantly covered in corn chip crumbs.

In what’s become a proverbial arms race between frozen beverage hegemons—redefining the term “Cold War”—hardly anything blended into a 32-ounce cup is shocking these days. Sonic is dumping Nerds candies into slushies, creating prediabetic monsters with 190 grams of sugar; Starbucks has essentially given up on coffee and started modeling its Frappuccinos after baked goods; and Five Guys offers bacon as an add-on for burgers and milk shakes alike.

But one chain just made all of those look tame by comparison: On July 1, Connecticut-based Wayback Burgers will debut an Oreo mudslide milk shake spiked with cricket protein.

RELATED: Bugging Out: Cooking Tips From an Amateur Insect Chef

The bug-infused confection started out as an April Fools’ joke, CNBC reports, but the online response was so positive that the chain decided to add it to the menu for a test run. Even though the item was only available for a few days, Wayback president John Eucalitto said people were lining up out the door to get their hands on one. After several months of testing, experimenting with 20 or 30 variations of the recipe, the company settled on a Peruvian chocolate cricket protein powder and were ready to bring the creepy-crawly dessert nationwide.

Eucalitto told CNBC that the biggest problem has been combating consumer perception—people think line cooks are grinding up fresh bugs in the walk-in instead of sourcing the powder from a domestic cricket farm—but he also said edible insects have started to get a better rap because of their positive impact on the environment.

So, Why Should You Care? In 2013, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations advised that the Western world adopt eating insects as a way to curb global food insecurity. Crickets produce half the amount of biological waste that cattle do, have more protein than salmon, and because they naturally live in close quarters, can be raised in a cruelty-free environment that takes up little space.

However, it looks like Wayback Burgers is implementing cricket protein more for shock value than for sustainability: The chain also offers beef jerky milk shakes and a nine-patty burger on its standard menu.