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This Pop-Up Insect Restaurant... Is Sponsored by a Pest Control Company

Rachel Tepper Paley
June 5, 2014

All photos credit: The Washington Post/Getty

Scientists and advocates of entomophagy—the consumption of insects—will tell you that bugs are a legit, underutilized source of protein. They’re sustainable! They’re good for the environment! They could help bring an end to world hunger! And they taste great, too! (Well, depending on who you ask—we’re looking at you, cricket chip inventors.)

That’s why, supposedly, Mid-Atlantic company Ehrlich Pest Control sponsored a free pop-up insect restaurant punnily named “Pestaurant” at swanky Washington, D.C. eatery Occidental on Wednesday afternoon.

Attendees chowed down on grasshopper burgers garnished with Mexican spice mealworms. Roasted crickets were served on porcelain. Staffers passed out neon-shaded lollipops which, upon further inspection, contained ants, mealworms, and scorpions.

Mmm… grasshopper burger. Photo credit: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty

Ehrlich CEO John Myers told NPR blog The Salt the purpose of the event was to “to have fun, raise awareness about the serious business of pest control and raise money for hunger,” as well as to promote insects as a feasible solution to hunger.

But—and we’re playing devil’s advocate here—wouldn’t social acceptance of entomophagy sour Ehrlich’s pest-killing business model? Think about it: Why hire an exterminator to flush out unwanted pests when you can eat them instead, for free?

Ehrlich likely doesn’t need to worry about that scenario quite yet. Just get a load of the UGH-NO-WHY look on some Pestaurant patrons’ faces:

Imagined dialogue: “It’ll all be over soon. It’ll all be over soon.” Photo credit: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty

"Nope, nope, nope." Photo: The Washington Post/Getty

"Why, dear God, why?" Photo credit: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty

"I can’t imagine this is something that would impact [Ehrlich’s] business negatively," Eater.com’s D.C. editor, Missy Frederick, who attended the event, told us. "I don’t think there’s a danger of chefs or home cooks suddenly deciding to cook the insects they come across in their day-to-day life rather than calling the exterminator."

Frederick does believe, however, that the event successfully put a “more positive and utilitarian spin on those critters that tend to generally freak people out.”

And hey, at least this guy is into it:

Photo: The Washington Post/Getty