Beetles, anyone? How about a nibble of earthworm jerky? Once again, the Mashed Brothers did the heavy lifting for us as they ate 12 different bugs, including crickets, grasshoppers, black ants -- even scorpions, stinger and all! Although insects may not be a mainstream ingredient in many Western cuisines, they are fairly common around the world. Knowing this, the Mashed Brothers aimed to try a new type of fare, and they succeeded ... sort of.
While some of the critters proved palatable (especially the ones covered with chocolate, obviously), not all of the creepy crawlies passed the entomophagic test with flying colors. Some had an acquired taste, to say the least, pushing the Mashed Bros well beyond their culinary comfort zones. The intensity of the flavors, textures, and visuals didn't win the two over, making it clear that bug consumption is not for everyone. At least they had some laughs along the way, and we can sit back and watch the culinary bonding experience with a bowl of popcorn, not stink bugs.
Whether they were chocolate-coated or presented in their natural, crunchy, earthy glory, all of the insects were indeed chewed and swallowed. So, which did they find tolerable? Which would they rather never see (or taste) again? After watching the hilarious taste test, we were left with some lingering questions, so we sat down with brothers Brian and Scott Wilson to get the scoop on all things edible insects.
Crunchy Grasshoppers And Crickets Could Use Some Help
You compared grasshoppers to cereal and Cheetos. Could they have benefitted from a dairy like milk or cheese?
Scott: Only in the sense that I could potentially take them like pills. Nothing was gonna help mask that flavor. They were like cereal and Cheetos only in a texture sense, you know? The flavor was more like ... if you put a cow on a steady diet of stale Cheetos, let it pass through its system, gave it a week to dry out, and then I ate it. Milk ain't helping that.
Brian: All bugs, every one, could have benefited from actual food being added in. I would've loved some cheese during this process. Milk would've been admittedly weird but I'm positive it would've been an improvement.
Did the crickets improve the chocolate at all or were you just happy to get a sweet treat?
Scott: The crickets inside the chocolate had almost no flavor, they just added a bit of crunch. It just tasted like a Crunch Bar -- no offense to Crunch Bars. But my opinion may have been a bit skewed. If you make a guy eat bugs all day and then you give him literally anything else, he's gonna be pretty excited. I probably would have given a shoe sole five stars at that point.
Brian: You couldn't really taste them ... 100% just happy to get something that didn't taste like dirt. They really just tasted like chocolate, which was a-okay with me. Of all of [the insects we tasted], that's the one I'd have again -- maybe that's obvious -- otherwise, we can burn this challenge to the ground.
Salt And Seasoning Didn't Do The Trick
Did the salt help the June beetles? Would the pretzel-ish rhino beetles have benefitted from salt, too?
Scott: Ah ... no. I'm not sure why that company bothered putting salt on anything. It's like putting salt on my gym socks. If I'm gonna eat gym socks, salt isn't gonna help me. You're spitting in the ocean, you know?
Brian: Short answer: no. Long answer: Nothing was helping the June beetles. Willy Wonka and Guy Fiery could've collaborated with Gordon Ramsay and it still would've tasted like gym socks.
Did earthworm jerky taste similar to other jerkies people might be more familiar with?
Scott: Initially, yes. The Cajun flavor was a nice change. But it was short-lived. Once your saliva started getting to the core of the earthworm, the worm took over. Cajun and earthworm: Is that better than just earthworm??? I dunno, [laughs] maybe, maybe not.
Brian: Maybe for a millisecond ...
Stink Bugs Are Better Than Expected
Did the stink bugs taste like they smell? Which was stronger, the flavor or aroma?
Scott: Those were baby stink bugs, I think ... so I don't think they had matured into full stinkage. I've had some adult stink bug encounters in my day and if they had tasted like those smelt I was sure I was gonna [vomit]. So ... It wasn't fun. But it wasn't as bad as I pictured it being, I was expecting rotten cilantro but [the flavor was] much more similar to some of the other bugs we tried than I thought they were gonna be. I was expecting the worst.
Brian: They didn't! They didn't taste good, mind you, but it wasn't how you'd expect a stink bug to taste. I think we were saved on that one by the drying-out process which seems to have evaporated all the stink-juices. That's the last good thing I say about the drying-out process.
Bugs' Taste And Texture Are Stomach-Churning
You mentioned an "exoskeleton flavor." What does that taste like?
Scott: It's kinda hard to describe. It has the consistency of a popcorn kernel husk or hull or whatever it's called. The outer part that gets stuck in your teeth, you know? Or like you're eating someone else's dried-out toenails. The flavor, though, was pretty earthy ... like, violently earthy!!! Like eating dirt. Old dirt, like dirt that's been neglected.
Brian: Dirt. And not the gourmet dirt you'd get at like, Michaels or something. Barnyard dirt.
You ate multiple beetles and worms. Is there a distinct beetle and/or worm flavor common across their respective examples?
Scott: Almost everything we ate had a kinda stale flavor that I can only describe as ... like if you licked the walls of your attic. Or like if you dusted your house and then ate it. Nothing tasted clean, you know? I don't know what a bug's hygiene routine consists of day to day but it didn't taste like it's a very big priority for them. Like eating out of your neighbor's compost pile.
Brian: Man, they all kinda had the same dusty, earthly profile. It was similar to the chicken sandwich video in that it was a mental challenge of doing the same thing over and over. It was unlike the chicken video in that everything tasted like poop.
Scorpions Look Scarier Than They Taste
Pointy mouthfeel aside, what was it like eating scorpion?
Scott: The scorpion was kinda uneventful, although, I placed it in my mouth in such a way where the stinger went straight into the inside of my cheek. Everyone involved was really hoping they were gonna be bigger than they were. So they didn't taste good but they were so small that it almost didn't matter, you know? But it did feel like you were breaking the rules of life ... like sticking your finger in a light socket or something. Like, okay, here we go ... I guess I'll do something that's not correct to do.
Brian: [It was] a little terrifying -- the pointer in particular. I got stung by a bee last year and it was awful. When that happens to kids I always assumed they were being babies about it, but let me tell you, they're not. So then to have to eat one? I was afraid everything would swell up like Martin Short in Pure Luck -- I didn't, thank god.
One Insect Reigns Supreme ... Sort Of
How would you rank the bugs in terms of taste?
Scott: I'd say the easiest ones, or best tasting ones, were the crickets, or the ones I called fried onions ... I can't remember which ones those were. ([laughs] Check the footage!) But I think the worst were the ants. Something about the ants ... it didn't help that I ate a whole spoonful. But there was something inside the ants that would make you produce an excessive amount of saliva, and then the flavor would mix with your saliva and it was just the foulest most potent taste ever.
Brian: The only one that had an edible flavor was the chocolate crickets. So that one first, then every food I've ever had ever, then the other bugs.
Do you wish there were more soft, chewy textures? Or do you think crunchy is the best option here?
Scott: I feel like the gross-out factor would have gone up had there been a lot of guts involved. But they were cooked or dried out or something so I had a really hard time swallowing these things ... they were so dry. So maybe it would have made it easier to get down if some of their insides were there to help lube up the situation a bit, I'm not sure.
Brian: Absolutely not. Just thinking about that is rough. As close as I was to vomiting, I feel like it definitely happens [more] if they're gooshy. As bad as it was, the dried version we got was probably the best option.
Never Again, Thanks
Are there any bugs from this video that you would choose to eat again?
Scott: Absolutely not -- not unless we're making a video about it. [laughs] I'll do just about anything for Mashed Bros content, but left to my own devices I doubt I'll get down on bugs again. So not for no reason, although, it doesn't take much ... if someone throws a couple stamps on a triple dog dare, I'd probably eat bugs again.
Brian: Just the chocolate ones, and it wouldn't be by choice.
If you had to eat an insect you've never tried before, what would it be?
Scott: If we were to set this up again and I controlled the whole process? If I know myself correctly I'd be like "Go big or go home!!!" I'm of the mind that the more Brian and I don't want to do something, the better the footage will be. So ... lemme Google the worst thing real quick. Looks like a giant water bug? Or a huge walking stick would be funny. All hangin' outta my mouth while I'm trying to chew it up. Something huge, you know? I don't like to mess around, let's go big.
Brian: I mean ... anything for the film, but hopefully I never do this again. I guess I'd choose whichever one is dipped in chocolate.
Read the original article on Mashed.