The cicada invasion of 2021 may have left many residents of Princeton, New Jersey, making mental notes to move before the next 17-year cycle hits in 2038. But for Matt Errico ’96 and Gabrielle Carbone ’98, owners of The Bent Spoon, an ice cream shop in the town’s Palmer Square, it provided a chance to create a summertime treat that was not only daring, but delicious enough to sell out within minutes.
- Errico and Carbone first considered making a cicada-flavored ice cream when the insects were around in 2004. But The Bent Spoon had just opened a few weeks prior, and they didn’t want to turn off new customers.
- In 2021, just before Brood X returned, they shared an April Fool’s Day Instagram post featuring “cicada crunch” ice cream, where the pair admitted that the idea wasn’t so farfetched. They unveiled their official cicada-infused ice cream on June 4.
- Featuring the cicadas wasn’t done for shock value. Instead, it was created as an homage to the insect and to raise awareness about its sustainability and nutritional benefits.
- The Bent Spoon uses only the best quality ingredients in its ice cream, so the top priority was to collect cicadas from land and trees that were pesticide-free.
- Collecting the critters wasn’t easy. Errico and Carbone used ladders and nets to reach into trees and collect the insects. It took them almost three hours to gather enough.
- Back at the shop, the cicadas were frozen, blanched, and then dried. Next, the wings and legs, which aren’t quite as tasty as the bodies, were removed.
- The cicadas were ground into a powder using a mortar and pestle and then added into tempered chocolate. That mixture was chopped up and added to a vanilla bean ice cream. The resulting recipe? Cicada chocolate chip.
- Cicada chocolate chip was possibly the rarest flavor they’ve ever offered, but The Bent Spoon is known for making unique and surprising flavors, including oyster, lobster, and asparagus ice cream.
- Turns out, customers loved it. The ice cream sold out online in the first hour, and walkup customers the next day consumed the rest in 15 minutes.
- The flavor profile of a cicada? Unsurprisingly, earthy, says Carbone: “It’s a beautiful combination when added with the chocolate. It was delicious.”