Popular Cicada Ice Cream Puzzles Health Officials

A homemade ice cream shop in Missouri sold out of the flavor within hours

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It's cicada season! After burrowing underground for thirteen years, the noisy bugs are buzzing out of hibernation tunnels and into ice cream shops. Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream in Columbia, Missouri introduced a new cicada flavor ice cream on June 1 and sold out of the brown sugar, butter, and bug treat within hours. The sweet's success is short-lived, however, as public health officials have asked the ice cream maker to stop selling it.

The process of making the ice cream does sound a little dodgy. Apparently, employees collected the large, protein-rich bugs in their backyards and boiled them before coating them in brown sugar. (We're still wondering from these articles if they really mean the live bug, rather than the discarded exoskeleton. We've put in a call to the store, and will let you know.) The candied critters were added to a brown sugar and butter base. An environmental health chief at the Columbia County Department of Public Health told the press that while the code in place "doesn't directly address cicadas," he advised against using them in ice cream. For a better visualization, the animation to the right showing a cicada emerging from it's hibernation shell looks fascinating but not delicious.

Opinions on the cicadas' edibility vary elsewhere in the South. "There is no toxic component to cicadas," a veterinarian told The Tennessean. "I've even heard of people storing them in a freezer for dog treats."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.