The cricket bar: A healthy alternative to steak?
Spliid founded Crobar, a snack bar made with cricket flour, in January of this year. She ran a successful Kickstarter campaign and began production during the summer.
Now, she sells her bars in four shops in London, online stores in Germany and will soon bring her Crobars to UK Whole Foods and Nutricentre locations. She touts its healthy and sustainable nature, as it is packed with proteins and amino acids, while being easier to farm.
“I’m really into healthy food and thought this was kind the quirkiest and coolest thing ever,” she said.
We wanted to ask Spliid a few questions to find out more about crickets as a snack of the present and future.
BakeryandSnacks: When did you start making these bars? What was it like when it first started?
Christine Spliid: I produced the first batch in June or July. It started with me just doing it in my kitchen, and then finding a manufacturer who made a lot of bars. He said what he thought would work with cricket flour, so we were testing in small batches and making educated guesses.
I am improving the flavor now after we did the initial run based on all the feedback I got from people. In the beginning, you have to take some chances, see how it goes and improve it later on.
BAS: Have you tasted the new formulation? Is it better?
CS: It is better. I’m taking out the glycerol, which I initially added because it helps to keep the bars more moist, but people are really focused on natural ingredients. I’m also adding cacao nibs as well as natural flavoring.
BAS: What has the reception been of these bars? Has it changed since you started?
CS: I’ve done testing with different kinds of people, I’ve gone to business people working, kids in a library… all these different people and there are very few people who don’t want to taste it when you say it has insects. Maybe 5%, max. Most people are willing to have a go, then they eat it and say ‘Oh, it’s really nice,’ and may have some more.
Initially I was really scared that this wasn’t going to catch on or it was going to take a little longer than other food trends. But I really think it will catch on with people.
BAS: Is cricket flour an ingredient you see becoming more popular? What are the advantages?
CS: So the advantage is that, first of all, cricket as an insect that is really high on protein. They have all the essential amino acids. You usually get those from plant sources. They’re also high on iron and magnesium.
In terms of the environmental bit, it’s how much more sustainable crickets are to farm than cattle, chicken and pork. People are more into health theses days and becoming more and more environmentally conscious. We won’t be able to continue beef production the way it is now.
It’s a small solution. We won’t ever stop eating meat. It’s a small thing that you can do. You know it’s healthy and a little bit better for the environment than if you had a piece of steak or something.
BAS: Do you ever see any of the big snack manufacturers producing it?
CS: It’s a good question—one that can mean good things and bad things for me. If you have a really big company making cricket bars, they will do it cheaper than I am. But at that point, will I have gotten a big enough social media presence and done a good enough job getting my brand out there?
I want to brand into other products too. I would probably want to do different sizes of bars and possibly crisps as well, chips. There’s no limit to what you can do with cricket. I probably want to ask all the customer sand ask what they’d like. You can make breads and cakes and lots of stuff. It’s also gluten free and free from dairy and soy. More people are allergic to all kinds of things these days.
BAS: For those who may be too afraid to try, what is the taste like?
CS: It really depends on what you feed the crickets. I’ve bought lots of different quality from farms around the world. The cheaper stuff didn’t taste very nice. If you buy really good stuff, like I get the organic cricket flour from an organic farm in Canada, it tastes like hazelnuts roasted buckwheat.