Half cup of sugar. Check. Two eggs. Check. Handful of crickets?
It may seem a little unusual but that is exactly what Six Foods will have in their unique recipes when they launch via Kickstarter to coincide with Earth Day.
Harvard graduates Rose Wang and Laura D'Asaro along with Music of Fine Arts graduate Meryl Natow have found a way to use insects as a key ingredient to making healthier foods and snacks.
Six Foods' cricket chips, known as chirps, contain seven grams of protein, almost double of what a normal chip has, while only being 140 calories. Not only are their chips and cookies high in protein, vitamins and minerals but they are also low in fat and in cost.
"We're a very value-based company. We will be able to provide people our food at low costs," says Wang and D'Asaro, who graduated with a Psychology and African Studies degree respectively. "They are also super healthy for you."
Inspired by culinary delights while traveling abroad, both Wang and D'Asaro decided to make their idea a reality last year when they left what looked like a plate of ordinary ground beef tacos in the refrigerator of the Harvard Innovation Lab. However, the tacos were really made of worms that the two created.
"You really could not tell the difference if it was ground beef or something else," says the 22-year-old Wang and D'Asaro, 23. "We didn't label it because we didn't think anyone would be there. We came back two hour later and all of them were gone."
The key to their recipes is creating special flour made from insects such as crickets and various types of worms. This makes consumers unable to tell their chips and cookies apart from ordinary groceries at the store. The flour disguise also makes the foods more aesthetically pleasing.
"It's just dried brown flour. It has a neutral taste to it," says D'Asaro. "It's filled with nutrition so we use it with normal ingredients."
For now, Six Foods will only take orders for their cricket chirps and chocolate chirp cookies but plan on expanding with fried rice, salad dressing, tacos and lettuce wraps.
Harvard senior Stephanie Cheng, 21, was not sure what to expect when she tried the chocolate chirps cookies, made with chocolate chips and crickets. She was mostly worried about the cookies' appearance and the chance of it tasting the crickets.
"With the cookie, there isn't that sick factor where you can actually see the insects," says the sociology major. "They look very much like a regular cookie. I was very intrigued by it. I definitely wanted more."
While their food focuses on health, they know that making food is about how it tastes. People still eat McDonald's chicken nuggets, says Wang.
"This is real [food] that tastes really great and is way better for you than anything else on the market," says the two founders. "We're still [making] food so we are very focused on taste."
Nuseir Yassin, another Harvard senior, says that the Chirps taste even better than popular brand Chips Ahoy.
"I never ate bugs before. They were no different than any other cookies," says Yassin, a 22-year-old economics major. "The rest of the world [eats insects] so why don't we? I think they'll go far."
In a country where health and exercise is promoted daily, Wang and D'Asaro believe people are concerned where their food comes from more than ever – their crickets are raised on insect farms from California to Ohio, making their ingredients more natural.
While crickets may not be the first things on everyone's taste buds, Six Foods is hoping to make these special types of cookies and chips a new, healthier part of people's diets, says Wang.
"At the end of the day, we want to introduce insects in a form that's not scary and (in a way) people are willing to accept."