Advantage and Smithsonian Channel created a progressive experience for this press event that allowed guests to immerse themselves in the world of eating insects at their own pace. In order to do that we had to find the perfect venue, which we did at Project Farmhouse. This state-of-the-art sustainability center located in the Union Square area of New York City also includes numerous eco-friendly amenities, further building upon the environmentally-friendly theme of the evening.
The experience was designed to make attendees feel comfortable with the idea of eating insects. To get them started we developed a “Gateway Bugs” station which introduced attendees to insect-eating with small pastry appetizers made using cricket flour. The second station within our progressive experience was the “Blind Bugs” stop. Guests threw a blindfold on and were challenged to decipher a mealworm-based marinara sauce versus a traditional marinara. In an interesting twist, most attendees preferred the mealworm option! The “Bug Roulette” station let guests spin a wheel to select one of four unique dishes based on what they landed on – cricket chips, black ants and shrimp, grasshopper guacamole, and silkworm pupae brownies. The final bug tasting experience was a live demo of tarantula frying which tested attendees’ bravery as they engaged in tasting the creepiest critter of the night.
For those not willing to have their entire meal be bug-based, we also served a curated menu of bug-free offerings…which were clearly labeled with “non-bug” indicators. For those that needed to let their guard down before testing the tarantula, we also had an open bar with bug-free cocktail options. Gallery-style walls of facts from the show were featured around the venue and served as both educational spaces and photo ops, while paying homage to the Smithsonian museums. Did you know for instance that ancient Aztecs ate insects as a regular part of their diet? Or that one ounce of mealworm equals 15 grams of protein?