When Alec Wiese and Kelly Sturek bit into their 25 cent tacos, they heard crickets.
Wiese, a co-founder of Bugeater Foods, said the cheap tacos inspired him and Sturek to discuss what made the tacos so cheap. Bugs came to mind.
Sturek approached him a month later, ready to turn a thought into a company. Wiese said he jumped on board immediately.
After a batch of less-than-spectacular products, Julianne Kopf, a food scientist and recent University of Nebraska-Lincoln grad, joined Bugeater Foods and turned their idea into a tasty concoction.
Today, Bugeater Foods sells Jump, a chocolate-flavored powder made from cocoa, chicory root and crickets.
Inside Fuse Coworking, where Bugeater Foods is currently based, Wiese spoke with DLA about the new startup.
DLA: What does your Jump product consist of exactly?
Wiese: It’s a protein powder and 60 percent of it is the cricket protein, then there’s a vitamin pre-mix, a little bit of cocoa and chicory root for fiber.
DLA: What should you add it to?
Wiese: Water, milk, whatever you think will taste best with a chocolate-flavor base.
DLA: Are you working on creating any different flavors?
Wiese: We’re working on a coffee flavor that has caffeine added, and we’ll hope to have that ready sometime in August.
DLA: Why crickets versus other insects?
Wiese: There’s, I believe, 1,900 edible species of insects, but crickets have the most research done. Grasshoppers, which are obviously very similar, actually have a higher amount of protein, but the exoskeletons are a lot stronger so it’s more labor intensive to crack that and get all the nutrients out. We’re definitely looking into different insects as time goes on and more research is done.
DLA: Do you use a specific type or species of cricket in your product?
Wiese: We currently only use house crickets, which is an acheta domesticus, which are just those little brown ones you’d find in your home or any general area.
DLA: Where do your crickets come from?
Wiese: All of our crickets are grown on FDA-approved farms all around the country.
DLA: What are each of your roles in the company?
Wiese: Julianne has been working with our supplier for the past three years, making products and doing pathogen testing. So she is all the food science part of it and she is very, very good at what she does. Kelly is the entrepreneur part of it and his parents are entrepreneurs so he’s been around that her whole life. I do the design and web development so I basically make everything work well and look pretty.
DLA: Where can people buy this product?
Wiese: It’s available online on our website (bugeaterfoods.com), it’s also available at the Hy-Vee off 51st and O. We’re also excited to say that we’ll soon be expanding to other Hy-Vees in town as well.
DLA: What’s next for you guys?
Wiese: We’re looking to expand our retail channels and then just developing and improving our products. We’re doing a bug hunt. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we announce a new location, then people can go out and find the stickers we’ve hidden around the Downtown Lincoln and Haymarket area. You take a photo of the sticker, post it on Twitter or Facebook and add #Bughunt to it. The first person at each location gets a free sample, then everyone who submits a photo afterwards will be entered into a drawing to win a $25 Juice Stop gift card.
Jump is currently on sale at Hy-Vee for $5 an individual packet, while boxes of 7 packets can be purchased on their website for $40.
Follow Bugeater Foods online at:
Facebook: Bugeaters Facebook Page