Wetenschap - 28 oktober 2015

Lollipops with mealworms and crickets

tekst:
Roelof Kleis

Are insect lollipops a good idea? Albert Heijn has them on their shelves. Professor and insect ambassador Arnold van Huis has mixed feelings about it.

It is Halloween this Saturday. That is why Albert Hejin has placed these insect lollipops on their shelves. See-through flat lollipops with a cricket or several mealworms clearly visible in the middle. Humorously conceived. ‘ Trick or treat!’ and then the kid is scared when they closely observe the given lollipop. Suddenly they are standing face to face with a cricket or mealworm.

For Van Huis the idea is not new. In the US they have had the phenomenon for a while now. But these are made in Holland by the Deli Bugs company in Lelystad. Literally from the polder. Deli Bugs made about 30.000 lollies for AH. Mealworms with cherry or pear taste and cricket with raspberry or peach. With sweetener instead of sugar, thus also for the diabetics such as Van Huis. He does not mind sticking out his tongue for a photo.

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Van Huis can see the humour in it. But he is not really happy. ‘This depicts the eating of insects in the wrong light, as if it is scary, and I do not like that. But it is also not really harmful’ Even now that Van Huis has retired, he is still travelling the world as ambassador of eating insects. 'Our attitude towards insects is changing rapidly. Nowadays when during a lecture I ask who has tried eating insects, half of the hands are'raised’, he continues. ‘It is starting to become fully embedded. Even if it is mainly about eating insect proteins that are incorporated in burgers, and not about eating the whole insect. That is one of the tricks to get people to eat insects.’

Eight years ago Van Huis predicted that the first products based on insects would be put on supermarket shelves in 2020. ‘At the start of 2015 they were already there. The amount of scientific publications about insects has risen exponentially. Especially in the US it is madness. One after the other start-up factory rises up. It usually involves crickets because they taste better.’

The AH at Stadsbrink is not really convinced on what they have to do with the lollies. There is no insect lollipop to be found at the candy department. A helpful employee
refers the reporter to the fruit section. There are three lollipop displays. The link with Halloween is not made. However, they are on sale: 2,26 euro per lollipop. Not really cheap giveaways.

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