Gillian Maffeo said it all started as an April Fool's Day joke. Wayback Burgers, a resturant chain headquartered in Cheshire with locations across the state and country, started advertising a new type of milkshake: one infused with protein, from bugs.
Surprisingly, people took the joke seriously. "It was a really big eye opener," said Maffeo, who directs Wayback's marketing division. "We hit demographics that we never hit before. We hit millennials. We hit the fitness demographic," she continued, "so we scurried to find a cricket vendor, as crazy as that sounds."
They found a farm that grows crickets in Oregon and signed them on as a supplier. The bugs got ground up, mixed with chocolate, and the Oreo Mudpie Cricket Protein Milkshake was born.
"It's hand-dipped with vanilla-bean ice cream. We have Oreo cookie crumbles in it. It's also made with Peruvian-chocolate cricket protein powder," Maffeo said.
She said that last ingredient "looks just like whey protein powder. It looks exactly like it. It's not like crickets are floating around in your milkshake," Maffeo joked.
Insects have been slow to catch on as food in the West, but the Food and Agriculture Organization with the United Nations has championed them as food. Maffeo said the idea might be finally catching on in America. "Bugs are coming -- they're trending right now," she said. "You're going to start to see bugs pop up even more and more on the menu for a lot of restaurants and brands across the nation."
A recent food report from the United Nations said bugs form a part of the diet of at least two billion people worldwide. Insects are packed with protein, and growing them produces a fraction of the carbon emissions associated with traditional livestock.
In case you're curious, Wayback's cricket milkshake will be on sale through September.