While I’m in the middle of doing my radio show tonight, a few people start asking me about cicadas. It seems that Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream in Columbia, Missouri got into trouble for making an ice cream with cicadas. I was in Columbia thirteen years ago when these insects last emerged from their burrows, but I was fascinated by the odd intervals and dissonances of sound as you moved through trees full of them. I never thought about eating them.
They’ve actually long been a delicacy, dating back to ancient Greek, Chinese, Congolese, and Latin American cultures. For this ice cream, they took the wings off the cicadas and then boiled the bugs and covered them in brown sugar and chocolate and added that mixture to a base ice cream of brown sugar and butter. In the story on Ozarks First, an employee remarks that if you didn’t know it was a bug you’d just assume the crunch was a nut. I’m sure there’s more protein in a cicada than a macadamia.
I called a friend who still lives in Columbia to get the real details. Apparently word got around last Wednesday night that this venture was underway, and when Sparky’s opened for business there was a line waiting to get a taste. Enough of a line that they were empty before the first hour was through. Such success meant they’d of course make another batch, but that success also meant a news story in the town with more aspiring journalists than any other. Such publicity drew the attention of the Board of Health. They prevented any more of this cicada ice cream from being made or sold.
News stories mention that there must be some specific rules for how cicada ought to be prepared, but nothing in Missouri seems to set out any regulations about cicadas. The rumor is that they claimed that in order to serve insects, you must raise them. I’m not sure who can invest in holding the space for the thirteen year lifecycle of the cicada for a few batches of ice cream. It seems like Sparky’s is hedging their bets that some sort of agreement will be worked out as the sign on the door tells customers to be on the lookout for the next batch. In 2024.