Japan’s quest to add matcha flavor to everything it can goes to a strange new place.

While Japan has been enjoying green tea for centuries, the concept of matcha-flavored sweets and snacks is really something that’s only taken off in the past 10 years or so. Since the realization of how delicious matcha-flavored food is, though, Japan has been making up for lost time in a big way, discovering that green tea makes pancakes, potato chips, and even yogurt taste better.

And now you can enjoy matcha crickets.

▼ While the English-text “Matcha” stands out, the more important part is “コオロギ50匹,” which translates to “50 crickets.”

We should clarify that Japanese company BugMo didn’t just dip a fistful of crickets in green tea coating like Mujirushi’s matcha chocolate strawberries. Instead, they ground those insects up into a powder, then mixed them in with the other ingredients in their BugMo Cricket Protein Bars.

When we heard about the product, we walked over to the giant “Which SoraNews24 reporter has to eat bugs today?” wheel that we keep set up in the office (which we’ve previously used to pass out assignments to eat wasp crackers and whole beetles). After giving it a hearty spin, the task fell to our Japanese-language reporter Go Hatori, who went online and ordered a two-bar pack (one matcha, one chocolate) from BugMo for 980 yen (US$8.80).

A few days later the deliveryman knocked on the door, and Go’s healthy snacks were here. He looked at the packaging, which boasts:
● “10 grams of protein”
● “Nine essential amino acids”
● “Half-day’s supply of omega-3 fatty acids”
● “No preservatives or artificial additives”
● “Gluten-free”

And, finally, “50 crickets go into each bar.” Sure enough, when he flipped over to the backside to look at the ingredient list, “powdered crickets” was there, along with more mundane protein bar components like dates, raisins, cashews, and walnuts.

There was also a letter from the manufacturer, which said:

“Crickets are often said to taste like nuts or beans, but to liken them to something we Japanese people are familiar with, their flavor is close to that of kinako [roasted soybean powder].”

Go wasn’t sure that the claim of crickets tasting like kinako (which has a mildly sweet, almost cinnamon-like character) was any more accurate than the claims that kinako can help prevent or reverse balding. In Go’s opinion, based on having eaten crickets before, he thinks their flavor is rich and mildly fruity, and unmistakably insect-like.

Still, he wouldn’t know what these cricket bars tasted like until he tried them. Before that, though, he sliced the bars into pieces, to see if any large chunks of cricket would come spilling out. This didn’t happen, though, since the insects have been ground down so finely that there’s no visible trace of them, though this also has the somewhat unsettling effect of making you realize that since the bugs are powdered and mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, they’re basically everywhere in the bar.

And with that, it was time to take a bite of the collective efforts of the 50 crickets.

So how does it taste? “It doesn’t taste bad,” Go says, which might seem like faint praise, but is actually pretty impressive if you’re grading on a curve. Most people would expect crickets to taste terrible, and protein bars are meant to be nutritional supplements first and foremost, with flavor an at-best secondary concern. From that standpoint, not tasting bad is actually pretty good. “The matcha cricket bar tastes like matcha, and the chocolate one tastes like chocolate,” Go continued, so there’s definitely truth in BugMo’s advertising.

But does it taste like crickets? “If you chew for a long time, and already know what crickets taste like, somewhere far off in the corners of your mind, very, very, very far off, you can tell there are crickets in this,” Go says. “But if you’ve never eaten them before, you wouldn’t notice or be bothered by it.”

To test this evaluation, Go, being the generous guy that he is, decided to share his snacks with the rest of the staff that was in the office at the time, starting with writer Yuichiro.

▼ Go: “Hey, Yuichiro! Wanna try these protein bars?”

▼ Go: “They’re made with crickets!”

▼ Yuichiro: “Nopenopenope.”

▼ Yuichiro: “Nowaynoway.”

Fortunately for Go’s research, the rest of the team wasn’t quite as squeamish.

Reactions from the rest of the office included:

“Yeah…it’s kind of OK…”
“Well, it’s edible, but…”
“Since you told me it has crickets in it, I can’t think it tastes good”
“If you hadn’t told me about the crickets, I could eat it with no problem.”

However, Go did find one member of our staff who thought BugMo’s cricket bars tasted fantastic.

“These are really good,” said Momo with a smile on her face. “I grew up in a part of Japan where we sometimes eat locusts, so crickets are no problem for me.”

So there you have it: If you love locusts but are looking for a convenient, healthy way to eat more bugs while leading your active, busy life, BugMo’s matcha and chocolate cricket protein bars are the answer.

Related: BugMo
Photos ©SoraNews24
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