The snack that makes your mouth hoppy

A brief history of chapulines

Hello, Snackers. Today on Snack Stack:

Chapulines

Credit: Jan Harenburg on Wikipedia Commons

The basics

Dried and roasted grasshoppers, typically with some kind of seasoning like chile and/or lemon. Nutty, crunchy, and spicy.

Find it in

Mexico and some areas of the USA and Central America.

The intel

There are some 6,816 species of grasshopper, which presumably means 6,816 flavors, about the same number of Cheeto varieties. Today, we're talking about Sphenarium, a species found in Mexico, which are dried, roasted, and seasoned, typically with a hot chili powder and lime, becoming a toasty, crunchy, smoky, spicy snack called chapulines. Buy them by the scoop, eat them by the handful or put them in a taco. (Heads up: the legs can get stuck in your teeth, but that's also true of all kinds of snacks, so don't worry about it.)

Chapulines have been around as a snack food since at least the sixteenth century, probably earlier. “They also eat a type of locust they call chapolin chichiaoa, which they make into a casserole, and it's a very tasty food,” one of the Spanish conquistadors wrote in 1521. These days, chapulines are particularly common and popular in Oaxaca, and they're starting to become a thing in parts of the USA. As one Dallas-area restaurant owner recently told Texas Monthly, chapulines have a novelty appeal: 

“I wanted to sell something that was hard to find and other restaurants might be afraid of selling.” It worked. The chapulines gained a small but loyal following. Their popularity has also shown other Texas taqueria owners that the critters are worth serving. At Revolver Taco Lounge, they are an appetizer. Los Oaxaqueños in Oak Cliff serves them on pizza.

They’ve also made it far north of the US-Mexico border, including Seattle—in 2017, the Mariners introduced chapulines as a ballpark snack. They were such a hit that T-Mobile Park sold 901 servings (that’s 18,000 grasshoppers in all) in the first three games they were available and ESPN did a whole multimedia feature on the process of harvesting the grasshoppers in Oaxaca, getting them to Seattle, and preparing them for sale.

Oh, and you can raise them in your very own home—please enjoy this video about grasshopper consumption, which, if you stick around to the second half, doubles as an infomercial for a sculptural grasshopper farm slash eye-catching home décor. Great conversation piece!

Get it here

Chapulines Doña Chencha at Central de Abastos in Oaxaca, Mexico, or T-Mobile Park in Seattle, USA, where they cost $5 for a four-ounce container—honestly, a pretty good deal for ballpark snacks. In Texas, as noted above, you can get them at Revolver Taco Lounge, Los Oaxaqueños, and elsewhere.

Will you like it? 

Probably! Mariners fans sure do:

Read more

Texas Monthly: Live a Little and Try Crunching on Chapulines, or Roasted Grasshoppers

Culinary Backstreets: Building Blocks: Chapulines, a Bug’s Culinary Life in Oaxaca

They make for a delicious addition to guacamole, according to chef Aaron Sanchez

Happy snacking!