The energy bar aisle in most American grocery stores has a selection extensive enough to plunge anyone into the paralysis of choice, confused and asking, “What’s the difference?”
Here’s one with a real difference: Chapul Bars. Their major protein source? Crickets. But you won’t be picking tiny insect legs out of your teeth after eating them — the crickets are milled down to powder, or what Chapul calls “cricket flour,” before they’re added into the bars.
In 2011, founder Pat Crowley listened to a TED Talk on the environmental and health benefits of eating insects and became excited at the idea of a form of protein that could be utilized with a much smaller impact on freshwater resources. During summer 2012, Chapul raised more than $16,000 in startup capital on Kickstarter, and he has begun production and distribution of two flavors of bars, focusing first in the Denver metro area.
“Hands down the biggest issue we have in the acceptance of our bars is the cultural shift needed in the mindset of Americans that it’s not only acceptable, but responsible to eat bugs,” says John Beers of Chapul. “We’ve tried to make Chapul bars both palatable and accessible — no legs or antennae sticking out— to the average consumer.” The amount of cricket flour used in each bar equates to approximately two to three crickets per bar. Beers says vegetarians’ response to Chapul Bars has been “a mixed bag,” with some being very accepting of a protein source that allows vegetarians to cut some soy and whey from their diets.
Crickets, a delicacy in some parts of Mexico and Southeast Asia, have yet to find an audience in the United States — Chapul bars are the first commercial food product in the U.S. to contain protein flour made from insects. Chapul purchases live crickets from a ranch in California, bakes them, and uses a special mill to turn them into cricket flour, which is then mixed in with dates, almonds and other all natural ingredients.