our CEO challenged someone to eat dead bugs

A reader writes:

I work for a medium-sized company that has had some morale difficulties recently, for reasons that are too long to get into. As a result, the higher-level executives have been making more of an effort to be a “fun” place to work. Most of these efforts are pretty normal, such as a company outing to a sports game.

Recently, we had an all-hands meeting that was broadcast to all of our offices where our CEO made it clear that they were trying to reformat our normal meetings to be more enjoyable and less formal. Midway through the meeting, he asked someone in his conference room if they would be interested in challenging him to a game for a prize.

Someone agreed and stepped up to the front, where the game was revealed to be a contest to see who could eat a handful of dead crickets the fastest. The CEO did check that the contestant was still okay with this, the contestant agreed, and they both went at it. The contestant won a box of chocolate for eating them the fastest, and then the meeting continued.

My question is: is this as weird and terrible an idea as I think it probably is? Most everyone in the office seems to have been weirded out by this display, and they probably won’t do it again if our survey feedback is negative enough. That said, it still already happened, and the person who competed was already put on the spot before it was revealed to be bugs. Granted, I was not the bug eater, and I don’t know this person even casually, so he might not have minded it at all. Is this as strange as I think it is?

A handful of dead crickets?!

It’s extremely weird.

I’d like to know more about the contestant because his willingness to plunge ahead and eat dead bugs is disturbing interesting remarkable. Unless you’re in a really odd office culture, most people would gone with a resounding “nope” when your CEO asked if they wanted to participate once the game was revealed. While it’s certainly true that there’s pressure involved when the CEO asks you to do something in front of the whole company, I think most people would feel comfortable opting out when explicitly given that option, particularly given how gross and over-the-top most people would find this.

That said, there are people who might see it as a way of scoring points with the CEO and thus decide to do it for that reason even if they didn’t really want to. And your CEO should know that.

Any chance this is a super bro-ish culture? Or that their recent efforts to be more “fun” are leaning in that direction? Because this is not really screaming “adult business environment.”

{ 448 comments… read them below }

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My exact thought when I read the headline.

      Which is as far as I read because UGH GROSS. I would definitely complain to HR if I had to witness something like this.

      1. Lemon Bars*

        An HR complaint? It was gross but filing a HR complaint is not reasonable. It was most likely preplanned by both involved and it was eating bugs which is on the menu in some restaurants.

        1. Drago Cucina*

          I immediately thought of the fondue-Pre-Colombian fusion restaurant I went to in Guadalajara. The award winning dish was fondue topped with crickets.

          1. JSPA*

            Live crickets are sort of stinky. You sure they were not grasshoppers?

            I have encountered crickets once or twice as food, but grasshoppers are more common, and (barring insect allergies) not too bad.

            Silkworm pupae, which seem to be a normal fall snack in part or all of Korea (we encountered the silkworm pupae stands next to the roasted peanuts) are, IMHO, far funkier.

            I bought a couple of cans at the Asian import store to see if I could come up with a way to render them palatable to me (in case I was faced with them again). Despite having strong scruples about tossing any food that’s not actually gone off, not one of them made it to my lips.

            In general, insects are a super “eco” form of protein, and also a good source of healthy fats. So anyway, if they were fried or baked or even dried, the crickets were probably…not that bad? Or in any case, not harmful? And within the range of what normal people eat as a delicacy, someplace else. Like corn smut, witchetty grubs, etc.

            1. topcat*

              I had fried crickets (or a similar insect) at a Hallowe’en party in Germany years ago, and they were absolutely delicious, like crispy fried onions.

              1. Julia*

                I feel obliged to point out that crickets are not a normal part of German diets, just in case anyone reads your comment and mistakenly thinks that.

        2. Hey Nonnie*

          Aside from the gross-out factor, it might be worth pointing out that this is the sort of thing that COULD run afoul of anti-discrimination laws. Many people are vegetarian for religious reasons — hindus, for one — and as far as I know, crickets are not kosher or halal, either. It’s way too easy for something like this to come across as needling or mocking someone for their religious beliefs, especially with it being “surprise” crickets that they were pressured to “agreeing to” without knowing what they were agreeing to. Also, it’s crickets, which you have to go out of your way to find, not something like “I forgot cheeseburgers aren’t kosher.”

          And yes, as appalling and juvenile as it is, it is a thing that happens — I’ve seen it.

          1. JustaTech*

            I remember listening to the guys who made a cricket protein bar say that they were working on getting a ruling on if crickets are kosher or not. At first glance, no, because they’re related to shellfish.

            I’ve eaten them, it was fine, maybe even good, but it was my choice at my pace. Also, I’d be worried about eating them fast because they’re pointy and could get caught in your throat. Wouldn’t want the CEO to have to do the Heimlich on someone in a “fun” meeting.

            1. jew here*

              Crickets aren’t kosher; bugs in general aren’t (the problem is being a bug, not a relationship to shellfish). There are specific types of locusts that are kosher, but because of various historical reasons they are not commonly eaten among most Jewish communities except a few. It would be a hard sell.

      2. Temperance*

        Yeah I’m kind of a freak, but I would have had to leave to stop myself from throwing up. That’s just nasty.

            1. AnnaBananna*

              Are you saying that a dead cricket in the Detective’s mouth wouldn’t cause a gag reflex?

              1. Mousey*

                Oh, I thought she was saying that seeing someone ELSE eat the bug would somehow trigger her gag reflex. I would totally gag if there were a bug touching my throat too.

                1. Trinity Beeper*

                  Definitely possible to involuntarily gag at the sight of something gross. I’m so sensitive, I even gag when I clear moldy food out of the fridge!

                2. Courageous cat*

                  I mean… people have thrown up watching something gross before. It’s 100% possible for seeing something to trigger the gag reflex. Or maybe I’m confused.

                3. Ender*

                  The gag reflex is when you gag specifically because of something touching your tongue or the back of your mouth. It’s an automatic physical response that evolved to stop us from choking when something big enters our throat.

                  It’s not the same thing as gagging, which can be caused by lots of things, including seeing something you think is gross.

                  Put simply, the gag reflex is one of many things that can cause you to gag, it is not the act of gagging itself.

                4. Courageous cat*

                  Well fair enough, I would agree with that, but I think it’s unnecessarily pedantic for the most part (though I know you’re not the original commenter talking about it).

        1. Michaela Westen*

          There are many countries where insects have always been a normal part of the diet. They’re very nutritious!
          There is an effort here in America to get people to be open to eating them because it’s a more sustainable source of protein to feed the large global population.
          I’ve eaten cricket powder which I put in quickbread. It’s pretty good, and I would get tired of it if I ate it all the time. I want to try grasshopper flour next.
          One of the reasons I tried it is my food problems – nuts tend to upset my stomach as I get older. The company I bought the cricket flour from was founded by someone who has a lot of allergies, as an alternative protein.
          I heard about a fancy dinner in NYC where each course was a different insect. I heard all were tasty except the waterbugs. This is a good trend, and I’m sure most of us can work up to at least being ok with the idea. :)

          1. Michaela Westen*

            P.S. – I wouldn’t have liked this demonstration either because it sounds very frat boy.
            Crickets can cross-react with shellfish allergy.

          2. Iris Eyes*

            Yeah, crickets are becoming a thing. So at least these were in all probability dead bugs designed and approved for human consumption. I’d put this roughly in the same category of eating chicken feet or something. Its a legitimate and large part of some people and culture’s diet but most Americans would be weird about it. Don’t be weird about it.

            I’m much more concerned that they are trying to fix morale with fun instead of respect. That’s the issue, not bugs.

            1. Carrie*

              Yes, crickets are very much a thing right now! I gave a presentation about edible insects at a conference, and brought cricket chips, cricket cookies, and cheese-dusted whole crickets as a snack. Lots of people tried them. We should not be denigrating this completely natural and healthful food source.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                Yes, and if people have been conditioned to think they’re icky and can’t see their way to eating them, we need to respect that. It takes a while to get past that – if they want to.
                I’m ok with the powder but I think I would have to work up to eating the whole ones. I probably can’t eat them for the same reason I can’t eat chips anymore – too much salt and seasonings like garlic and onion upsetting my stomach.

          3. Aunt Piddy*

            THANK YOU!

            I volunteered for an insectarium for years and performed the cooking show! They’re delicious! There are farms in the US that provide food-grade crickets (sometimes already roasted and de-legged/winged). I guarantee the boss didn’t just go to the bait shop and grab a tube of crickets, he probably ordered them roasted from Fluker Farms.

            Insects are also good source of protein, and crickets in particular are a great source of calcium and iron. (Caterpillars are really high in fat so you have to watch them). Insect farming is also environmentally friendly, takes up almost no space, and produces very little waste. The West has the luxury of being able to choose not to eat insects, but in many countries they’re one of the easiest protein sources around. I get there’s a cultural taboo around eating them, but it’s not harmful and can actually be good for you.

      3. Observer*

        An HR complaint about something that the CEO did in full view in a meeting? There are very few times when that makes sense, and this is not one of them.

        I also don’t think it’s really actionable in the HR sense.

      4. Nononononono*

        I have a major bug phobia and would flee the room straight to HR. I need an accommodation that includes not eating or watching people eat bugs.

    2. I Love Thrawn*

      Occasionally when I see an AAM headline, I have an immediate, involuntary audible reaction. Hard to describe this one but went something like this: ahhhHHHH OHH.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Mine basically was “No. That can’t mean what it says, right? What does it MEAN though?!”

    3. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Hahhaha, my thought was Survivor. They do weird eating competitions sometimes too.

    4. Muriel Heslop*

      I teach middle school – definitely have some students who would have seen it as a challenge or a dare they *had* to accept. I am guessing that part of self doesn’t completely disappear in adulthood.

      1. TardyTardis*

        When I was 12 or so, some boys tried to gross me out with bugs and worms, but left me alone when I casually pointed out what my dad paid for bugs and worms for bait. (I *was* grossed out, but not appearing so meant they’d go bother someone else).

    5. hermit crab*

      I have volunteered for invertebrate-related museum/zoo exhibits for several years now. We regularly have meetings/parties that involve insect consumption; I’ve been to many “eat an invertebrate” potlucks where people bring themed food (everything from shrimp salad to cricket-flour cookies to “ants on a log”). But eating insects at these events has NEVER been a surprise or a competition. At most, someone will give out stickers that say “I ate a bug.” This situation is just downright weird!

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, it’s all about context. I know some bugs are edible, and if the CEO had been eating them as a snack and offered them to others to try, that would be one thing. But to frame it as a challenge under the guise of morale-boosting is just really weird.

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yeah, crickets are kind of trendy is some foodie circles, I think? There is definitely cricket flour you can buy, and foods made with crickets, and not food from cultures where eating certain insects is more common. (By the way, if you are thinking of trying it, exercise caution if you have a shellfish allergy). I would not be grossed out by someone eating crickets. Some cultures eat insects, and Westerners have a grossed out reaction to it mainly because it’s weird in *our* culture. But it’s not really objectively weirder than some of the stuff we eat.

        However, I would be deeply uncomfortable with how this went down. Enough Westerners would be grossed out by the very idea of eating an insect that it’s very inappropriate for a CEO to ask someone, in front of a lot of other people, if they wanted to back out after already volunteering. There’s just too much pressure there. Really, really not ok.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Doesn’t it sound like frat-boy culture? Let’s compete to see who’s brave enough to do the weird/icky/gross thing!

    6. Shelley, C'mon Shelley*

      (If it is Fear Factor, then thank goodness it wasn’t lips or testicles, or worse)

    7. voluptuousfire*

      I was thinking it was some internet challenge like that ALS ice bucket thing. Or someone was watching old reruns of Jackass or Viva La Bam.

  1. Abe Froman*

    Are we taking random dead bugs here or crickets that are sold as food (which are increasingly popular)? While it’s still weird either way, I feel like the former is way worse.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Same thought. I have eaten bugs (grasshoppers) before, but they were roasted, salted, and served with tortillas and a really delicious salsa.

      Also, I ordered them off a menu and a) wasn’t “challenged” to do so, and b) I wasn’t in my office.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        I once had a professor offer me a sour cream and onion flavored cricket. He was snacking on them in his office, which was an apparently normal thing for him to do (which I found out once I got to know him better). The big differences I see in that situation and LW’s situation are: 1. There was no “food factor” dare. 2. These crickets were sold as people food. 3. The prof offered them much as one would chewing gum, a mint, or other snackish type food.

        And in all honesty, it tasted like flavored dust. Definitely not as good as the cheese flavored dried grubs I ate at a festival. :p

      2. Stuff*

        That’s what I thought too. Also he was asked if he was ok with it and he accepted. Weird? Yes. But not that bad. I’ve seen worse “morale” things

      3. Anansi*

        Are you in DC, by any chance? I used to work at a restaurant that sold grasshopper tacos so I have had them often. Definitely an acquired taste though!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I ate them in Mexico, but I have been to at least one restaurant in DC (Oyamel is the one that springs to mind) that had chapulines on the menu. Also huitlacoche. I enjoy all manner of foods we consider “unusual” in this country, but they’re especially good when prepared with plenty of chiles and washed down with a good mezcal.

          Great, now I want some tripas and lengua tacos.

          1. Lunita*

            Huitlacoche is my favorite! I’ve had chapulines at an Oaxacan restaurant here in LA. My ex-boyfriend’s family also used to bring them back from Mexico once in awhile.

      4. TardyTardis*

        I grew up with grasshoppers in the fridge (they go dormant when it’s cold) in their own little cage. This may have been one of the reasons (the other being worms in a spare butter dish) my dad got his own little refrigerator to go into the garage.

    2. Blue Anne*

      This was my immediate thought. You can get dried crickets now as an interesting snack food. I assume this is what they had.

      1. Manders*

        Yeah, I’m not really sure where you’d get a bag of dead crickets if they weren’t the novelty snack food kind. Crickets are sold in pet stores but I think they’re usually live. Plus, it looks like the CEO ate them too, and if the CEO’s going around eating non-foodsafe bugs off the ground in public that’s a whole different issue.

        It’s still a SUPER weird thing to do in a meeting, though!

          1. Name to be decided on at a later date*

            LOL! If that was the case then the LW might have more pressing issues….like the fact that the CEO has allowed the cleaning crew to slack off enough that certain parts of the office are becoming bug infested. LOL!

        1. Flower*

          You can get dead crickets as pet food (usually freeze-dried) but I do think live ones are more common.

          I’d think those would be food-safe, but not sure if they would be cheaper or more expensive than people-food crickets.

          1. Tin Cormorant*

            I used to have a pet lizard that would eat canned grasshoppers. They were sold just like cat food.

    3. Crabcakes*

      This is pretty gross either way: using a food that is totally normal in many cultures for a gross-out contest is gross, and putting an employee on the spot to decide to eat random dead bugs is also gross.

      1. Project Mangler*

        Thank you! The gross-out contest just gets so much worse when you consider the snub against other cultures. It’s my same issue with Andrew Zimmern and “Bizarre Foods” – only bizarre to you, Mr. Midwest.

        1. Ladida*

          I don’t know why I feel compelled to defend Andrew Zimmern but I thought the thrust of the show was that while the foods seem “bizarre” to a Western audience, he usually enjoyed them and mostly described the food in positive or neutral terms (weirdly the one food he absolutely abhors is walnuts.)

          1. Anonymosity*

            Yeah, I never got the sense that he was making fun of them. And there were only a few foods Zimmern couldn’t eat. Durian and stinky tofu were a couple he just couldn’t deal with, and that fermented shark thing from Iceland. But he was always game to try it and often loved it, which was kind of the takeaway for me.

          2. Project Mangler*

            Well, I contrast him with Anthony Bourdain who never flinched at anything and just generally seemed more respectful to other cultures on his various shows. I felt like Zimmern was being more of a showman about it than Bourdain was. But to each their own :)

            1. Ellen N.*

              Bourdain hated natto. He described it as “a mucus-like, stringy goop” that inspired him to “hurl through the paper walls and straight off the edge of the mountain.”. This sounds like flinching to me. For the record, I love natto.
              Now, back to the subject at hand. The original poster left out information that I would need to make an informed comment. What is the reason for the low office morale? If the CEO perceived it as people being reluctant to go outside their comfort zone I can understand him/her offering a prize for eating crickets. The original poster didn’t describe these crickets. I’ve eaten crickets in Mexican restaurants. They were fried and seasoned with chile powder and lime. They tasted pretty much like chile/lime Fritos. If the crickets the CEO offered had been cooked as a snack I don’t understand people’s revulsion. If he/she found crickets on the street and offered them raw I would find it weird.

            2. JB (not in Houston)*

              I assumed Project Mangler meant he didn’t flinch at trying things, not that he didn’t dislike anything he tried.

              But I think we can all agree that Anthony Bourdain would have a problem with how the CEO handled this.

            3. soon 2be former fed*

              Bourdain flinched too. I preferred Zimmern, Bourdain seemed pretentious to me, may he RIP. Zimmern has plenty of respect for the cultures he visits, we must have watched different shows. No matter, insect eating is not typical in American corporate culture.

          3. soon 2be former fed*

            He abhors spam and Durian fruit. I love Andrew Zimmern. And the bug eating challenge was weird, OP.

          1. Kat in VA*

            I am one of those weird people that LOOOOVES gefilte fish. I mean I LOVE IT. Some people will eat a piece or two to be polite. Me? I’m eating my two pieces and oh heck, I’ll eat yours too.

            Don’t know why.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              SAME. I used to make it every year, too. Now I live with a vegetarian, and while he doesn’t mind if I consume fish in our kosher home, he can’t stand the smell of it cooking, so I just eat a lot of it when I go out. My synagogue also has plenty available after services.

              See also: herring. And chopped liver.

          2. Ellen N.*

            I won’t go near Manischewitz gefilte fish. If it’s homemade gefilte fish, I’ll eat my share and yours. Especially if there’s horseradish.

          3. Angie*

            Crew I would way rather eat crickets than gefilt fish or lutefisk. I don’t see the complaint here. Give me the snacky crunchy crickets any day over the slimy nasty fish. I guess it’s just okay because white people like to eat the slimy nasty fish

      2. Betty*

        Yep. I’m more grossed out at turning a totally legitimate snack food in some regions into a “challenge”– I’d feel pretty darn alienated if I were a member of those cultural groups, and it seems like it could actually factor into a hostile work environment claim if there was other evidence of harassment or bias against those groups.

        1. Ellen N.*

          I see your point and thank you for making it. It could be seen as culture shaming. However, we don’t know where in the world the company is located, the ethnicity of the CEO or the ethnic make up of the employees.

          I would be amused if I heard that eating things that are considered normal in my region, but not in others was made in to a game. Corn on the cob, peanut butter and avocado spring to mind.

          1. NDC*

            But those foods are commonly eaten by members of cultures that *don’t* have a long history of subjection to prejudice, systematic oppression, or deprivation.

            1. Ellen N.*

              I know. That’s why I said that I would be amused by contests to eat the food of my culture, but I could see where a prize for cricket eating could be seen as cultural shaming.

      3. JSPA*

        Do we know it was intended as a gross out, rather than horizon-widening? I’m thinking it makes more sense as a “follow the leader into the unknown” sort of team building exercise.

      4. Lissa*

        I’m not sure how I feel about this one, but … if using a food for a gross-out contest is culturally insensitive, what about the dozens of comments here about how gross people are finding it, how they’re gagging just thinking about it, etc?

        I mean, it isn’t very nice to tell someone that something normal in their culture is a Fear Factor, but it also isn’t very nice to tell someone that having to watch someone eat it is an HR violation, no?

        1. hollow exuviae*

          I have to agree. I also found it odd that Alison zeroed in on the bugs being the main factor making this story weird, rather than the “gross-out eating contest in the middle of an all hands” (or at least that’s how I interpreted the answer, I may be wrong). Then again I come from a culture that eats stuff a lot of people in the West find unappetising, so maybe I’m just more sensitive to that kind of attitude.

          1. Say what?*

            And even if this is a Western office it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any people with heritage that would incorporate these things as food. It is a difficult one because being informed about every culture on Earth would be a major feat. But crickets as food is not that uncommon a trend that you wouldn’t ever eat anywhere in the world… I’m still coming down less hard than I would if he was using, say, sushi as an impossibly gross thing to try. That would be a very pointed attack on a specific culture.

      5. Environmental Compliance*


        Yeah, the situation made me much more grossed out than what they were eating. It doesn’t really matter to me if it was crickets or gefilte fish or any other bizarre-to-other-cultures food, it’s not appropriate to do what comes off as frat boy hazing as a “morale event” in any office.

    4. OP*

      Hey there, OP writing in. I’m pretty sure it was ordered off of Amazon, so they were presumably sold as food (or possibly as pet food), and thankfully not grabbed off of the floor.

    5. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      Right? I’m like what’s the big deal. Obviously, people have different reactions and nobody should have to eat a cricket if they don’t want to eat a cricket but this was LITERALLY our family Christmas activity on Christmas day 2017. I got crickets off of Amazon and the one family member who didn’t want to participate recorded the rest of us doing it. It was hilarious! And then I posted the video to FB and the reactions of all of friends were hilarious. I had a close up of the little tiny feeties.

      There were a bunch of flavors. Sour cream & onion won.

      1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

        It’s a retail food in retail packaging and comes in a bunch of flavors like this:


        Which, imma not saying that anybody should be pressured into it but it is real food.

      2. SD*

        I don’t think it’s nearly as gross as some of the other commenters seem to think. I get that a lot of people in the US aren’t familiar with bugs as snacks, but I ate some Cajun seasoned grasshoppers once and they were actually pretty good!

    6. EvanMax*

      My thought as well. Late last year there was a “Pestaraunt” set up in an open square next to my building, handing out free samples of various food grade insects (sponsored by an extermination firm, actually) and a lot of employees went over and partook, just to see what the hubub was about. Not broadcast to the entire firm and featuring the CEO, I know, but still, not “a handful of dead bugs”.

      I’m curious if there’s a framing issue at play here.

    7. Bea*

      They sold crickets at the concessions at a sports venue. I was all in but they sold out super quick.

    8. Scarlet*

      Exactly, I feel that makes a huge difference. I ate grilled crickets with Mediterranean seasoning and they were delicious.

  2. esra*


    (Like, I regularly eat cricket powder for the protein and still noooooooooooope!)

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    No part of that sounds fun to me. If they want to make it a fun place to work, pay people well, give them generous leave policies, invest in their professional development, and work toward a culture of kindness, appreciation and support. Don’t challenge them to eat crickets FFS!

    1. Pickle*

      Yeah, I’m having trouble imagining a scenario where someone could say “We used to have a real morale problem around here, but after the cricket-eating contest things are really looking up!”

    2. Anonymeece*

      Right? I like having a casual, friendly office, but I really don’t need to have fun at my job, quite frankly. It’s my job. It’s never going to be as fun as when I am not at my job. I feel like higher-ups deliberately misinterpret what people want simply because it’s cheaper to have ~wacky~ dares than to give employees benefits and opportunities.

    3. zora*

      Yeah this is a perfect example of “you’re doing it wrong”.

      I work somewhere with a pretty solid culture, and our company president has done a couple of totally spontaneous “Challenges” during/before staff meetings, but they were work appropriate and gave everyone a good laugh. They have been along the lines of “caption this photo” and he collects them by email and awards a Starbucks gift card to the best one at the next meeting. He vetted them before sharing, so nothing inappropriate or mean was shown to the whole company, and our team had a fun 15 minutes reading through the submissions and laughing, and then got back to work.

      But you have to already have a good culture in all of the more substantive ways, for something innocuous to be kind of fun for a few minutes. Putting someone on the spot for something extreme or that could be mean spirited in the wrong situation is not how to make a good culture or fix a morale problem.

  4. Sassy AAE*

    I mean, as long as it’s food safe I’d try it. That said, I don’t know how I’d feel if the CEO challenged me to it.

    I’m also uncomfortable with unique food from other cultures (like crickets, ants and witchetty grubs) being paraded around as “gross out” food. I recognize us in the West find it really weird but, eh. It’s just something to eat for other people.

    1. Ethical_Pickle*

      I came here to say the same thing. Entemophagy is common in many cultures around the world and while a workplace meeting might not be the best place for it, a willingness to eat crickets isn’t inherently disturbing or gross.

    2. BeenThere*

      I actually like to try to local fare when traveling but, as others have noted, the way this was presented was the real issue.

    3. Dill Pickle*

      Yes, I think it is fine to say of a type of cuisine – “oh, yeah, I personally find it too vinegary, spicy, dry, salty, pepper-y, etc” because that’s about me and my taste buds without placing a value judgement on someone else’s food and their enjoyment of it (as some TV show on USA Network once said: don’t yuck my yum!)

    4. Mbarr*

      Your second paragraph is a very true statement!

      That being said… I do love trying crazy new foods while abroad. I’d totally challenge the CEO if I had known what it was beforehand. But that’s also cause I love horrifying my coworkers… When I was in the Philippines I ate balut. My other Western coworker nearly vomited, but our local colleagues were cheering me on.

        1. Marthooh*

          Balut: Game of dice, similar to Yahtzee… no…

          Balut: Latino musician… no…

          Balut: 18-day-…. NOPE.

    5. Pickle*

      It’d be kind of funny if they had a partner office in Thailand that was competing to eat a fried snickers bar, but barring that, yeah this sucks.

    6. WellRed*

      I read a fascinating article about American foods that others find weird. I specifically remember the comment about popcorn: “What is it? It’s like popped air.”

      1. Name to be decided on at a later date*

        My daughter likes to watch videos of celebrities from outside of the US trying foods that we’re used to. Tom Holland trying a twinkie for the first time is hysterical…he literally spits it out and says “this is disgusting! How can you eat this?” As a lover of Twinkie’s this was baffling to me, until my trip to the UK earlier this month. All the sweets were actually less sweet than I had expected them to be. Not bad, but definitely different.

      2. Miso*

        When I was in school we had an exchange with a Chinese school and I remember a lot of them found cheese gross. And I mean, if you think about it, it kinda is… We’re just used to it.

      3. TeaCha*

        I’ve met people who think tcrawfish boils are nasty! Like, how???!!

        I think it’s awesome to acknowledge cultural differences using food, so long as it’s done in a respectful way.
        I love ordering “weird” things when I travel to other countries…or even when I stay in the US (I ate some infamous Rocky Mountain Oysters a few months ago…not bad…but hey, really anything fried isn’t going to taste too bad!)! Whether it’s horse, fish jerky, or reindeer, or chicken feet, pickled eggs, vegemite, or tripe…I think it can be totally cool to be like “Hey, look at this crazy thing on the menu, I’m going to try it!”

        Making it seem like a “gross out” contest is a little low brow..and has no place in a work environment, but everywhere has foods that will be “weird” to other cultures…hell, I was called disgusting for like goat cheese today! (We had a food truck come to my work that has an AMAZING sundried tomato and goat cheese sandwich)

        1. Amcb13*

          How can people say that crawfish boils are nasty, you ask? They are, I’m sure, home to some delicious food.

          Unfortunately, the only one I’ve ever experienced was put on by a bunch of college students on the lawn behind my dorm. I wasn’t a part of the festivities…until I found multiple crawfish dragging themselves around my dorm, looking for places to die over the next week or so.

      4. Collarbone High*

        I brought Doritos to a picnic in Japan and only the American expats would eat them. I asked my Japanese friend if they seemed disgusting to her and she politely said “they’re … very orange.”

        I tried to look at them objectively, and thought that if I hadn’t grown up eating them, that neon orange dust would indeed be off-putting.

      5. Environmental Compliance*

        My family hosted a couple exchange students from Germany when I was in high school. My class took them all out to A&W so they could try root beer. 95% of the Americans loved root beer. About 30% of the Germans liked it….the rest spat it out and looked horrified that we drank it. It was pretty entertaining.

        1. Cathy Gale*

          Not just the Germans, people from all over Europe find root beer disgusting, “like toothpaste” one of my Irish friends said.

          Meanwhile the Australians always used to snicker at the name. Someone recently made a brand of genuine “Aussie root beer”, which is rather sour and nasty if you ask me.

    7. nonymous*

      omg yes. I remember one episode from fear factor where they were challenged to eat three century eggs. Now, I’m the first to say that the quality of these have been diminishing for years (there’s a chemically aftertaste to the cheaper brands). When I first saw the challenge I was like “yum! where do I sign up?” And then one of the contestants gagged the whole way and another one force-puked it back up after they got the points and I haven’t watched the show since. The show instantly became “let’s make fun of ethnic food” in my mind.

      for the record, I still think century eggs are pretty good in a bowl of ramen. And it definitely wouldn’t take me 15 minutes to scarf down three.

    8. Aphrodite*

      It may be normal in other cultures but this did not take place in another culture. It was in America and it was in a business office.

    9. soon 2be former fed*

      Chitterlings (“chitlins”) is a unique food common to my culture and I find them gross, along with pickled pigs feet, and headcheese.

    10. IheartPaulBuchman*

      I don’t think we should be reflexively offended on behalf of other cultural groups. In my experience (being from a country where First Nations people eat both ants and witchetty grubs) watching tourists freak the heck out is part of the fun. Most people here LOVE to ambush visitors with some strange local delicacy (doesn’t have to be gross, could just be native fruits or whatever) and take it in good humour if they react negatively.

    11. Better than Borat*

      “I’m also uncomfortable with unique food from other cultures (like crickets, ants and witchetty grubs) being paraded around as “gross out” food.”

      Perhaps. But before you say this, try drinking some kumys (fermented camel milk) in Kazakhstan, and get back to me.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        Apparently the fermented foods category is the hardest one to enjoy cross culturally (at least according to a documentary I watched.) Very much an acquired taste. I suspect that the USA in general had no patience for fermenting food in recent decades and so has a more difficult time with the fermented delicacies of other areas to a higher degree.

        I think that people are generally ok with it being considered gross, its fun to flaunt your superiority when other people are vomiting and it reinforces your group identity.

  5. Folklorist*

    Gee, why on Earth do you think they might have morale problems?! This is awful, and I say this as someone who has actually been to a “Bug Dinner Party” and eaten a bunch of bugs willingly! Putting people on the spot like that is not cool. That’s not a “game,” that’s a bad reality show!

  6. nuqotw*

    A box of chocolate? A fear factor challenge like eating a bunch of dead crickets (fastest no less!) deserves a fear factor prize like suitcase with $10,000 cash.

    1. DecorativeCacti*

      Seriously. I’ll eat some bugs if a 20% raise is on the table, but not for chocolate. Not even the fancy stuff.

      1. Anonymous Ampersand*

        I’d need a 50% raise to even think about it. Possibly 100%. And it’s highly likely I’d still refuse.

    2. Just Employed Here*

      In my (Western) country, insects have recently been legalized as food. Some hipsters were eating them before, but now they can officially be sold as food.

      Cue the heavy marketing of chocolate bars with (a whopping 5%) of crickets in them, smoothies with tiny amounts of cricket powder, whole dried crickets dipped in chocolate…

      Say what you will, but there seems to be a link between crickets and chocolate! /s

  7. Kramerica Industries*

    So this would be totally normal at my old workplace. We were clearing out the fridge once and there was pie that was 2 weeks expired and the CEO offered someone an iPad if they ate the whole thing. The “rallying around someone” frat house mentality is a thing in some places. Alas, it was not for me. The lack of appropriate work norms was too much for me after a while.

      1. Kramerica Industries*

        Agree that the ante for a chocolate bar is abysmal. But my point for OP is that it’s not normal by typical business standards, but this could very well be the normal in this bro-culture workplace. OP’s decision now is deciding if they can accept the new normal, otherwise run. I guarantee this will not be the last time something will shock/disgust you.

      2. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I would have eaten the pie just because I love pie and to not let it go to waste. I will say as long as there was not actual mold growing on it.

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      Pie? Unless it had green stuff growing on it, I would have done it for much less than an iPad!

    2. Dragoning*

      While I don’t know that I would want to work there, at least that sounds spur-of-the-moment and informal. Having a formal break in a meeting people need to be at for work purposes for this kind of thing is…weird.

      Interrupting work meetings to make them “fun” is weird.

      Morale problems might be caused by long, unnecessary meetings that take too long because of random side-tracking.

    3. Beanie*

      That rallying comment got me thinking of the time when a guy I knew beat the boss in push-ups (25 and 1 girl pushup) and got to go home early. We were all cheering for him that day ;)

      1. Amcb13*

        Oh hey, do you work at a Northeastern-Pennsylvania-based mid-range paper company by any chance? ;)

    4. Bea*

      At least it was for a real prize. Not chocolate. People pay be in chocolate for favors not eating questionable things!

  8. Submerged Tenths*

    Eating crickets: no big deal.
    Challenged by the CEO to eat crickets? Out-of-order, SO not fine, really big deal.

    What part of “fun” is this supposed to be?

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Here’s my problem with this kind of ‘fun’: eating crickets isn’t normal for most Americans, so you know some people in the meeting saw this challenge in a very different light. But they were a captive audience – who wants to look queasy or shocked when the CEO wants to have a FUN meeting?! He put them in a difficult spot, and that is not a good leadership move.

      Yeah, some of those creative ideas put the F-U in FUN.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I am so stealing “put the F-U in Fun.”

        Just no. Crickets are fine food, full of protein. but a business meeting is NOT the place for a food eating contest whether it be crickets, pie or hot dogs. You want a fun workplace – shorten the meetings. Don’t make them LONGER by putting in filler.

    2. Amy*

      Agreed with this. Crickets (especially those sold as snack food/food safe) are a perfectly healthy thing to eat, even if a bit unusual in the western world. Food contests in the office to eat ANYTHING honestly seems deeply inappropriate to me (and I wonder about whether a contest for eating a lot of food in a short time might potentially be triggering for people who have eating disorders).

  9. Alston*

    My old boss asked if I wanted to try a snack she brought back from abroad. I said sure and held out a hand, she poured a handful of crickets (dead, flavored crickets) into it. I threw them and sort of yelped and was almost crying (crickets freak me the hell out). She laughed and kept trying to give me some because she thought my reaction was hilarious. Booo

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      That was an awful thing for your old boss to do, Alston. I’m not squeamish about many food-related things, but I would never make fun of someone who does have a strong response to a food item.

      Did she ever apologize to you?

  10. Alldogsarepuppies*

    This reminds me of Desperate Housewives when Tom and Lynette’s boss starts treating Tom like a frat pledge, until Lynette eats raw bacon or something to stop it.

  11. Dill Pickle*

    Just want to preemptively point out that eating insects is normal in much of the world so – assuming the crickets were purchased from a retailer that sells insects for human consumption – this really shouldn’t be considered “disturbing”, just “different” (whereas picking up dead crickets from the corner of the supply room in order to eat them is in fact not a good idea). From a nutritional point of view, they are a low carb, high (complete) protein food dense in vitamins and minerals and cultivation for consumption is much more environmentally sustainable than, for example, beef.

    1. Namelesscommentator*

      Thank you!!! The only gross/despicable/disturbing part of this is the CEO’s behavior … but I’m trying to think of it as being asked to eat protein powder or some other food that I don’t love, but is still a regular thing to eat.

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        Yeah, it’s the behavior much more so than the crickets that disturbs me; he could just as easily challenged him to something much less innocuous that still would have been completely inappropriate because he’s the CEO putting somebody on the spot. This is a job, not a frat house drinking game.

    2. This Daydreamer*

      Yeah, yeah. The fact is that we live in a culture where bugs are considered disgusting and that isn’t something you can expect people to drop any time soon. And it really isn’t that uncommon for people to be afraid of bugs, including those of us with phobias.

      1. Madge*

        It kind of depends. I live in a large US metropolitan area and I have recently seen crickets for sale as a snack at a major league baseball stadium. I still think it’s unusual, and I would expect many people to be wary of eating them, but I don’t think it’s categorically unreasonable to offer them up as a novelty snack.

      2. Just Employed Here*

        I think of crickets as disgusting, although I nowadays see them for sale as human food.

        Then again, I haven’t eaten meat for 20+ years and consider beef, chicken, and the like to be pretty disgusting as well, so… :-)

          1. Bea*

            Solidarity fist bump got the cilantro hate. It tastes like poison and ruins every dish it touches.

      3. Green*

        You can get chapulines (grasshoppers) at some restaurants here, and flavored crickets are certainly sold online and in health food or ethnic food stores. Many Central and South Americans eat bugs, and many people of Central and South American origin live in the US and are part of our culture.

        I agree with others that the more disgusting thing here was presenting other cultures’ diets as “disgusting” in a work environment. You’re welcome to not want to eat bugs and find it personally gross, but I wouldn’t claim to have a monopoly on American culture.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Eh, there are cultures that eat dogs and cats too, and I think it’s still okay for people here to be disturbed by it. We’re socialized to see some animals as food and not others (which is a whole different problem, particularly for the animals) and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to recognize that people will often have a visceral reaction when it’s an animal they don’t normally consider eating.

      1. Freds*

        I think that the way you phrased it sounded pretty culturally insensitive and even offensive. Personally, I could never eat bugs but I’ve tried dog meat and while it tasted pretty bad I think it would be inappropriate to call it disgusting, even if you cross it out.

          1. Dill Pickle*

            Thank you. I actually think that was my issue in the answer. If you don’t want to try something, that is totally fine. As far as food consumption, my personal rule is (in theory) nothing with opposable thumbs. Do I ever really want to try balut? Hard pass! But for those who find it to be a street food delicacy, good for you!

      2. Green*

        I think it’s fine for people to be privately disturbed by it or post on a message board, but that’s very different than CEO making a big “gross out” display of many people’s normal foods in a work environment. It certainly would come off as a lack of cultural awareness and sensitivity, and if I were from a culture that regularly eats bugs, I may feel ostracized or unwelcome. (I’ve personally eaten bugs on several occasions, particularly when traveling or with friends of different cultural backgrounds.)

        1. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

          Yeah, this CEO specifically set out to “gross out” everyone at the meeting by making this a Weird Eating Contest, which is insensitive in multiple ways, to both people who really wouldn’t want to be surprised with cricket-eating and people who aren’t fazed by it.

      3. Cathy Gale*

        That was my thought too as someone who lives with cats and dogs. I don’t think other people are disgusting for eating crickets or grubs or whatever, but I can’t do it. People’s reactions vary. It’s not necessarily about cultural differences. My better half grew up in part around lobster traps in Maine. But we both find things connected to the cooking of live lobsters very disturbing, choose not to eat veal, foie gras, pork, etc. We’d love to see “vat meat” (meat cells that have been replicated) and other people find that much worse than the idea of killing an animal and eating it.

        I think the larger issue is that even if it was entirely planned, the idea is, the leader challenged someone to do something most people in our culture would consider transgressive, or difficult, or socially risky (embarrassing). It wouldn’t even have to be about something “gross”, if this was the CEO daring an employee live on Skype to do an ice bucket challenge or weight loss challenge, it would still be inappropriate.

  12. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

    And this is why, years after securing the job that sent me to this site in the first place, I cannot stop reading. Because I would miss “surprise bug-eating contest as morale booster” stories. My list of ideas for making meetings more enjoyable will never, ever include “stage surprise contest to eat dead bugs for cash.”

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        Oh good grief, somehow I misunderstood that! Even better. I am trying to picture the expressions on the faces in that room while that was going on. I picture that manager as Michael Scott.

    1. Kat in VA*

      My incessant reading of AAM has taught me that just about damn near anything can happen in the workplace and that I should not be surprised when/if it does.

      In my job search, this information has become invaluable because once I get a job (verbal offer in the works, fingers crossed!) I will have more sanguinity when The Weird pops up at work.

  13. BRR*

    I bet this didn’t solve the morale problem. Be on the lookout for nerf guns.

    I wish people didn’t think fun solves morale issues. It’s being functional that helps morale. Having fun at work isn’t a bad thing, but I imagine being functional would help morale more than eating crickets.

    1. Trig*

      Yeah, the way to improve morale is to fix actual problems, not try to be ‘more fun’. If they wanted more feedback, I’d be giving the same “here is what is actually wrong, it wasn’t that we want fun meetings and outings” feedback.

      Example: After middling employee satisfaction surveys, and top talent in some departments going elsewhere, two of my company’s big “morale boosting”/”modern company” reveals were… “We’re getting Slack!” and “You can now order Macs as your work computer!” Whoopdedoo.

      But! They also overhauled the internal transfers/hiring system (morale in my department has been low because of layoff after layoff, when someone’s hiring for our exact job in other business units – and management culture is generally possessive of employees rather than helping high performers move up to other opportunities within the company) and offered more training and learning opportunities. So at least they were addressing some real problems too!

      1. Observer*

        After middling employee satisfaction surveys, and top talent in some departments going elsewhere, two of my company’s big “morale boosting”/”modern company” reveals were… “We’re getting Slack!” and “You can now order Macs as your work computer!” Whoopdedoo.

        That’s not as stupid as it sounds. I realize that you have bigger problems at your office, but these moves do at least appear to address practical work related issues – Giving people better tools, especially ones that make it easier to communicate is generally a good thing.

        “Fun” stuff, even the normal types, generally don’t do that.

        1. Trig*

          Oh yeah, no, they’re good tools. But they obviously felt like they were handing down the ambrosia or something to appease us dear millennials who just want Macs and Slack, expecting a standing ovation.

    2. Anonanon*

      Exactly. Sounds like a clueless CEO who doesn’t understand what low-morale actually means. Bringing fun back into the workplace as a morale boost is just throwing gimmicks at a pervasive problem. I gave feedback on my exit interview to OldJob that morale was generally pretty low among our direct reports. My former boss’s solution was to have skip level one on ones to give everyone the opportunity to voice their concerns to the GrandBoss. Of course, no one felt comfortable providing honest feedback, so it was a waste of everyone’s time and nothing came of it. I think many managers either have no clue how to solve low morale or don’t care to actually solve the root of the problem.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I bet this didn’t solve the morale problem. Be on the lookout for nerf guns.

      Beautifully summed up.

      (That reminds me that I have another nerf gun letter sitting in my inbox that I’ve been alternating wanting to answer/avoiding.)

    4. Another Accountant*

      Yes, this. I worked at a job that had terrible amounts of overtime, and some of the “morale boosting” activities they made mandatory were nerf wars and balloon fights. If they had really wanted to improve morale they should have hired more employees to cover the workload.

      1. Anonymouse*

        Next year, it is kill a snake, skin it, and eat it.
        No, wait, that’s the Green Berets.
        But they have good morale.

    5. Allison*

      Here here!

      I’ll never forget telling a coworker in my first job that 10 days of PTO a year with no additional sick days was kinda stingy, and she said “Yeah . . . but . . . we can wear jeans on Fridays, so there’s that! And we get free beer sometimes, and you can’t beat working in the city!”

      1. Kat in VA*

        In my recent job search shenanigans, I’ve found far, far more business casual/casual offices than offices that require professional dress code (which I normally wear).

        This can be awkward when you’re wearing a pants suit, silk shell, heels, and pearls…and the 20-years-younger-than-you HR rep is wearing strappy gladiator sandals, a miniskirt, camisole, and a jean jacket. (I’m not judging. I thought she looked adorable.)

        Jeans on Fridays are no longer a perk – unless you’re client-facing, jeans are damn near a requirement. Or at the very least, khakis and polo shirts and the female equivalent.

        This is a wee bit irksome to me because I invested a fair amount of money into classic business pieces that it looks like I will have little occasion to wear any more, except perhaps to funerals or the odd court appearance.

      2. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

        If you get more than 10 PTO days, you have more of your own time to wear jeans and drink beer. So, her argument is invalid.

        My org has recently started giving a few hours of admin leave on the day before a holiday so that folks can get a head start on travel, but only if you are scheduled to work a full day in the office. So, if you work from home on Fridays as part of your normal schedule and you are planning to go to the beach for Labor Day weekend, tough beans; you still have to wait for rush hour to hit the road,even though you’ve put in as much work (possibly more, if your job lends itself to better productivity when you don’t get interrupted at the office) as someone who’s been in their cubicle checking their Facebook status. And they wonder why people aren’t more excited It looks good in print- hey, here’s an extra two hours of leave as a reward!- but the reality is that it screws over as many people as it benefits.

        1. Kat in VA*

          See also – I don’t even like wearing jeans. They’re heavy, the seams chafe whether they’re tighter or looser, and I have an odd shape that defies standard jean cuts. So jeans aren’t even a bonus for me anyway!

  14. SheLooksFamiliar*

    I can think of SO many ways to make meetings more enjoyable…say, keeping to a strict timeline and format, or reducing their frequency, or making them catered working lunches, or literally anything except watching people eat dead insects. Eating dead crickets is not proof of anything good or useful in your co-worker or leader, IMO.

    OP, this is every bit as strange as you think it is.

    1. nonymous*

      Or even throwing everyone’s name in a hat and giving the chocolate as a door prize! I mean, it won’t fix the underlying problems, but if I had a boring meeting to sit through I wouldn’t mind a bar of Theo’s (and I’d probably share with the people immediately around me).

  15. Catalin*

    I’m all for (independently, willingly) eating insects. Your boss, however, is making me a little nauseated.

  16. Asleep or maybe dead*

    Oh man, If I could, I would devour those crickets like an animal and then immediately throw up on the CEO. I’d be extra thrilled if he was dressed expensively.

  17. Magenta Sky*

    There are places where eating insects is not noteworthy, or is even a delicacy. Of course, were this in one of those places, it wouldn’t have been worthy of a challenge.

    We have a guy in our office (high on the food chain, as it were) who likes to challenge people to finish off whatever is left (with a time limit) of our office lunch, like a third of a cheesecake, or drink the rest of the salad dressing. Of course, his offered prize isn’t a box of chocolates, it’s a $100 bill. But that at least involves stuff that we all consider ordinary food.

    It’s still weird and a little creepy, even just to watch.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Ugh, I hate food-eating contests of any kind. I don’t normally get all “there are starving children in Africa!” about how people eat – but the idea of deliberately consuming more food than your body needs, just for the purpose of winning a contest, is really gross to me.

      1. Amy*

        I have a phobia and this sort of thing would trigger it pretty badly. Working in an office where this was a normal thing would have me looking for a new job REALLY fast.

    2. Trig*

      “I’ll give you $100 bucks if you drinking the salad dressing!” How old is he, 13?!

      If feels like either an immature “haha farts and butts and gross-out comedy is great!” mentality or a “You lesser peons will do *anything* for pennies, won’t you!?” power play. Yuck.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        I don’t really disagree.

        But the guy how does this with doesn’t seem to mind, since he walks away with a hundred bucks each time.

        1. LimeRoos*

          Yeah… Definitely immature…
          But on the other hand, I’d totally down a bottle of salad dressing for $100.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            Seriously! A third of a cheesecake to myself and someone ALSO pays me $100? Yes please!

            (however, would not eat salad dressing for any amount)

    3. Madge*

      I definitely think the “food challenge” aspect of this is what makes it so weird/questionable. Because the food item was something common in some parts of the world but not in the US, it adds the possibility that someone in the office might feel their culture was being mocked/belittled.

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        That’s a good point, and it’s an HR nightmare waiting to happen (though this place sounds rife with those already).

        1. Kat in VA*

          Ohhh, that is so not cool, using unsuspecting people to fulfill your fetish.

          I am absolutely not judging. I actually attend fetish events in the DC area, and as long as your kink doesn’t involve children, animals, OR non-consenting individuals, rock on with your kinky self. The fetish world is far and wide and full of some very unusual things.

          But this? This is a skeezy way to get your fetish fix – if you weren’t being facetious about him having an overeating/feeder fetish. Good heavens, there’s loads of free content on the internet that can fulfill those desires, why inflict them on people at work? I mean, if there’s knowledge on both sides, then sure, go for it.

          And by knowledge, I mean saying, “I have a thing for watching people stuff themselves to the point of nausea, I really enjoy watching that, it’s my kink, so if you’re willing, I’ll pay you a hundo to…” but even then, that crosses the line completely of inappropriate, unprofessional behavior in the workplace. Like a boss offering you extra cash to wear 6″ heels instead of 3″ heels because that’s their kink…

          Now I’ve conflustered myself because I don’t think he should be doing this AT ALL.

            1. Kat in VA*

              So everyone is on the up-and-up that he has a feeder/overeater fetish and they’re cool with it?

              I mean, if that’s the case, consenting adults and all…but it’s still not appropriate for a professional setting. :(

              1. Magneta Sky*

                Upon further reflection, I think “fetish” has a stronger meaning for you than it does for me.

  18. This Daydreamer*


    Unless the CEO thinks panic attacks are fun (in which case, RUN AWAY NOW) he’s going to be really sorry when someone completely flips out on him during a meeting.

  19. SLP*

    Is it possible the CEO arranged this “stunt” ahead of time with the participant? That is what I would expect/assume from such an odd situation.

    1. Sleep or maybe dead*

      I thought about that possibility as well.
      At least it would be less bizarre but then I’d ask myself what kind of message they were trying to convey… Are you telling me that accepting to eat bugs out of the blue after the CEO publicly challenged you is what you expect from me?
      I’d prefer the scenario in which they gave too little thought rather than too much.

    2. This Daydreamer*

      Even if it was arranged ahead of time, there are still going to be a lot of employees seriously considering calling in sick to avoid figure meetings.

    3. Snark*

      Possible. Doesn’t matter, though, because arranged or not, it still weirded out all in attendance.

    4. lyonite*

      That’s what I have in my mind as a best-case scenario, but it’s still not good. I’m having trouble coming up with a type of morale problem that could be effectively addressed by making your employees sit through an awkward comedy routine where one of their colleagues appears to be being put on the spot.

    5. Lucille2*

      I figured that was a possibility as well. Regardless, what’s the point? How does this do anything to boost morale?

    6. OP*

      Hey, OP here. I can’t honestly say for sure that it wasn’t, but I’m leaning towards it being not-staged — it took a long while before anyone was willing to come forward to volunteer to do the game, presumably because everyone was nervous about what it entailed.

      1. This Daydreamer*

        Somehow I don’t think he will have an easier time finding volunteers next time, if he’s boneheaded enough to seek audience participation again.

    7. Michaela T*

      I wondered that too, and if it was meant more as a silly prank on the staff but wasn’t handled quite right.

  20. Cordoba*

    Are dead bugs better or worse than live bugs?

    I can understand why people would not be OK with this, but it doesn’t sound that terrible. Maybe better in the context of a company picnic rather than a meeting, and with people knowing what they are signing up for ahead of time.

    I don’t get the hesitation around eating (terrestrial) arthropods from people who are OK eating other animals. They’re all made of the same stuff. Chicken, fish, cricket, whatever. It’s all mostly water and carbon.

    1. Snark*

      For me, it’s not the actual objectionableness of the item consumed – I would, and have, eaten crickets without a great deal of concern. But whether it’s objectionable to me or not, it’s objectionable to most people. For most people, the experience of being the eater, or the spectacle of watching the eater, would be bizarre, possibly disgusting, kind of humiliating, and very weird. And out of step with basically all workplace norms. So whether you dig on some bugs or not, it’s the weird dynamics at play here that make this a no-fly zone.

    2. Observer*

      Maybe better in the context of a company picnic rather than a meeting, and with people knowing what they are signing up for ahead of time.

      Yes, context MATTERS.

  21. Kella*

    As other folks have mentioned, of the dead bugs you could be challenged to eat, crickets are pretty low on the list of gross or fear-factorish, since there are plenty of companies that sell seasoned crickets as a snack. It’s still definitely weird and would still be enough to squick plenty of people out, but it’s not *quite* as gross as say eating a bowl full of flies or something potentially sanitary and bacteria ridden in addition to being unpleasant in texture.

  22. Butter Makes Things Better*

    Both the power imbalance and the “Gotcha!” element of this move bother me. I’m glad (or I hope) the volunteer was really okay with it because unstated boss pressure and/or “everyone is watching” pressure could have easily been (fear-)factored into why they went ahead with the challenge. Icky all around.

    This, on the other hand, didn’t bother me: Two upper level managers at an entertainment-related job made a $ wager at a staff meeting, egged on by others at their level, re: whether one could stomach eating a large insect that only turns up every few years. She supposedly had say over how it was prepared. I use “supposedly” because unfortunately, the public showdown never came to pass. I was sad, because I would’ve found it, um, entertaining. Anyhow, the difference was they were peers, it came up collegially and organically in a random meeting, and it wasn’t intended as a morale-boosting or mandatory fun kind of activity.

    1. CM*

      Yes, when I read Alison’s comment about “why would somebody agree to this anyway,” when I’m taken by surprise my default reaction is to agree and go along. It’s something I’ve gradually been training myself out of over the years, but it’s a really difficult habit for me to break. I could totally see myself going, “Um, OK, let’s have an eating contest, the CEO is doing this with everyone watching so it must be kind of normal, right?” It takes me a minute to process my actual reaction and by then I’ve already agreed.

  23. Capt. Dunkirk*

    I get that the fact that it was crickets is shocking to our Western palette, but it’s beside the point.

    The real issue here is that the CEO is using their power dynamic with an employee to make them eat food they may be disgusted by. It’s an abuse of power and needs to be reigned in, especially when the whole goal was about boosting employee morale.

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      Exactly. And that the CEO made sure to do this in front of the entire work team, many of whom might have excused themselves if they had been warned what was coming & wouldn’t want to see it. This is a morale booster how?

  24. So Ashamed*

    Sadly I must say that my husband who has an excellent paying job, is highly educated (ivy league grad degree), and manages departments of people and otherwise is a normal human being has when dared ate a bug (not dead) without flinching, and I am sure he has done far more disgusting things if/when dared. His BFF since high school also highly educated, and paid well with 3 kids is usually on the other end of the daring and also participates. I don’t want to imagine when they were in fraternity together, its too much grossness. I think this is a certain kind of male thing, his mother calls it that he is all boy, maybe its because I never had a brother but I call it disgusting. I’m not even going to go into that I have just thrown away horrible smelling stuff when he returns from a boys weekend (camping, fishing, hunting anything without a shower or vegetables for days). On the upside I don’t have to worry about him cheating on a boys weekend because I don’t think anyone not with them could take the smell.

    1. Bea*

      We didn’t do drugs or drink in high school but we played a lot of “what gross mixtures will you eat?” a lot. As young girls…we still do it as important professionals, ngl.

      Nothing spoiled though. It has to be food. If it’s weird, it is prepared by a eatery establishment or sold in a gas station kind of thing.

      I wouldn’t do it with my team at work though. It’s for friends and bars only!

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      My dad and sister eat the food crickets semi-regularly (Southern US, they’re both biologists), and in Raleigh NC, BugFest has people lining up for an hour to eat bugs, so there’s a lot of people for whom it’s not a big deal.

      I can’t get over the ick factor, but I know, intellectually, bugs are no worse than shrimp, oysters, or snails.

  25. Snark*

    I’ve eaten crickets, grubs, a little non-biting tick called a jumil, and ants. I will, in fact, eat just about anything that’s edible and not septic, if it seems interesting enough, though I draw the line a bit further up than Anthony Bourdain.


    Power dynamics? Gotcha factor? Social humiliation? Icky all the way through.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Yeah, I feel like saying to the boss “Consent? You keep on using that word…I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  26. Guacamole Bob*

    What takes this question to new heights is the way Allison keeps referring to “dead bugs,” as if it’s the fact that the insects are deceased that makes the whole thing questionable.

  27. Gumption*

    Entertaining, yes. Will cause eyebrows to go up? Absolutely. Make meetings fun and help with morale? Not likely.

    Improving morale will come from the top with respectful behaviour, listening ears and a willingness to embrace changes, including firing people who need to go and hiring needed staff.

    (Said by a person who participated in a cricket-spitting contest at a Scout camp. It came from a large bag of roasted crickets. I might have put my hand up for that challenge because I’m dumb that way sometimes. It would be a sure way to ensure the CEO doesn’t ever forget your name, that’s for sure.)

    1. EPLawyer*

      the poor guy is now known forever as “the person who ate the bugs”

      CEO should want people to be known for their work and how it enhances the company.

  28. Rebecca*

    NO NO NO NO NO! Just when I thought I had read everything about weird workplaces, this popped up. Just no.

  29. Bitter, obviously*

    “I’m a CEO at a company that’s been having some morale problems. I’ve tried to raise morale by forcing my employees to eat dead bugs. I’m a great boss.”

  30. Janey*

    I’m a fan of trivia questions prior to an all hands meeting…that is usually a way more engaging way to get people to sit up front and get there early

    1. Bea*

      No everyone is conditioned to think bugs are gross.

      Unless they’re infesting your home or they bite.

      But I also just put spiders outside because they’re fine but their bites are not.

  31. Dcer*

    Is it possible that the cricket-eater was part of the set up, knew what was about to happen and had pre-agreed to be the “volunteer” – with them thinking the ick factor would make people laugh and they would entertain people? Is it possible OP you feel like he was on the spot because you’re putting yourself in his shoes – without knowing prearrangements.

    Most people who don’t want to eat dead crickets are going to just do it because their boss says so. And not do it with speed to win the race. But there are plenty of people who have eaten dead crickets. And would be amused to be in a race with their boss.

    I mean it’s all weird and gross. But that was my thought when reading this.

    1. RadSki*

      This! This was my exact first thought – he was a “plant” in the audience and it was meant as entertainment. Not that I would find that entertaining.

  32. We're all weirdos here*

    One day each week, my office has afternoon tea. A couple weeks ago one of my colleagues brought a box of crickets and several energy bars made with cricket protein to share. No one thought this was odd–we’re a bunch of science journalists. (I tried the banana-chocolate chip bar. I didn’t enjoy it, but that was because of the banana flavor, I think, and not the crickets.)

    1. Gumption*

      I recently tried a cricket protein bar (with chocolate and chiles) and really liked it. I only bought it because it was half-price and close to expiry.

    2. Manders*

      Yeah, I don’t think it’s consuming crickets that’s inherently weird, it’s the public setting with the CEO daring people to do it. An office that already has morale problems + a CEO who thinks daring people to do gross things in business meetings is the way to fix it = a recipe for a really bad workplace.

    3. Leela*

      I find nothing overtly odd about eating crickets, but I find it very odd to try and use that to improve flagging morale!

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      Yeah, a friend sent me some cricket flour and I’ve used it when making bread, which I’ve shared. I could do that for work, too. However, I let people know ahead of time that it has cricket flour in it, and don’t try to convince them to try it if they aren’t interested. All the more for the rest of us who like bread that tastes like homemade bread!

  33. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Regardless of the food involved, stopping a company wide meeting to have a food eating contest is wrong. I’d be just as weirded out if it was a spur of the moment hotdog eating contest.

    1. Dragoning*

      Yes! They need to stop interrupting meetings with irrelevant nonsense. That doesn’t make anyone happy. It makes meetings longer.

  34. There is a Life Outside the Library*

    Ummmmm…yeah, at Old Job’s yearly picnic the new people always had to eat a chocolate covered cricket. And I can’t even say that was the least of how crappy and psychotic that boss was.

    1. Jady*

      ……. what happened if they refused? (Seriously) Were they fired?

      Can you imagine being at your next interview after that job. “Why did you leave your last position?” “Well, actually I was let go for refusing to eat dead bugs.”

      1. Not a Mere Device*

        That could be an EEOC complaint (crickets can’t be kosher) as well as the possible ADA issue (in case of a shellfish allergy).

        1. Dentrassi*

          I’m sorry to say that crickets are, in fact, kosher. (I won a bet with this factoid and it is never going to leave me)

          1. SarahTheEntwife*

            Only certain species, and depending on how strictly someone keeps kosher, they’re almost certainly not certified.

  35. Wandering Thoughts...*

    At my college, a club ran a charity fundraiser where people ate bugs. I paid $5 to eat a chocolate covered cricket which wasn’t that bad, until I found a cricket leg stuck in my teeth later in the day.

    So the activity itself doesn’t weird me out; what does weird me out is doing this in the middle of a work meeting. If the office wants to do a bug eating contest for prizes, that would be fun. But the CEO randomly pulling out dead crickets and challenging someone on the spot to eat them is weird.

  36. Roscoe*

    So I think this really just depends on your office. I’d be totally fine with that, but in a more conservative office, I can see it being an issue. Hell, I used to be a teacher and as a “prize” I’d give out a box of “crick-ettes” which are just flavored dead crickets. I’d challenge the kids to eat one and I always would too. I also worked at a zoo once, and I can see at any type of outdoor place, this being something that is fine as well.

    To me what makes this more ok than not is that the CEO was up for doing it too. It wasn’t done to embarass someone or out of malice, just fun. Some people would probably find it funny, or funnily gross, others may be totally weirded out by it. I think its a fine gesture, but if people were mostly opposed to it then it can just be a learning experience and not done again.

    1. Butter Makes Things Better*

      I get that. I also wonder if it could’ve added to the sense of obligation, like “c’mon, I’m doing it too!”

    2. Lexi*

      I would decline the crickets, but I’m not grossed out by it they were not live, and if you have visited other countries or this country (wisconsin- Cheese curds, montana – Rocky mountain oysters) there are way worse things on the menu.
      I would appreciate that in his own weird way the boss was trying to connect and be fun, he ate some of the crickets he is trying that is half the battle.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        How do cheese curds even come close to being placed in a worse list next to Rocky Mountain Oysters?

        1. JSPA*

          Some people get an intense, fingernails on chalkboard response to tooth-squeak food, like lightly cooked green beans and squeaky cheese curds. I love them. Humans are a funny species!

      1. kuff*

        I had the exact same thought. Say what you want about Scott Adams, the search function at dilbert.com is excellent. I never fail to find the relevant old strip I’m looking for.

  37. Ms Cappuccino*

    At least they had their portion of proteins for the day….No seriously imagine these people get sick with food poisoning, the liability of the organisation!

  38. LeisureSuiteLarry*

    Weird? Yes.

    I’m not weirded out by the idea of eating bugs, but before accepting such a challenge I’d want to know where they came from and how they’re prepared. Like, did he just go get a handful of crickets from outside or did he buy them from some sort of reputable store? Are they raw or cooked in some way?

    I know the Seattle Mariners stadium has a stand where you can buy fried crickets to snack on. I’ve never tried it, but that’s primarily because I’ve never run across the place rather than a lack of willingness.

    If he challenges you to lay in a coffin full of snakes, I suggest that you politely decline.

    1. Manders*

      If you’re in Seattle and you’d like to try some crickets, Poquitos serves them. They’re treated like any other food item on the menu, not as a wacky dare, which is a tasteful way to do it if you’re going to serve insects IMO.

    2. LeRainDrop*

      Yes, I came here to mention the Seattle Mariners’ newest snack craze — toasted grasshoppers covered in chili-lime salt! I don’t live out there, and don’t think I could stomach it, but I saw it broadcast when my team was out there playing. Apparently, these grasshopper snacks have been really popular.

    1. Jennifer Juniper*

      Cuddle parties sound like lots of fun. I’d do that if I weren’t married. Bugs in teeth – no.

  39. Antilles*

    Recently, we had an all-hands meeting that was broadcast to all of our offices where our CEO made it clear that they were trying to reformat our normal meetings to be more enjoyable and less formal.
    Something seems ironically off about the concept of scheduling an office-wide meeting to discuss changing the format of meetings to make them more enjoyable.

    1. Anonygrouse*

      Yes! Reminds me of Old Job where they formed a committee charged with trying to reduce the number of committees there were.

      1. AnonyAnony*

        We must work at the same place! Of course, there are even more committees now than there were before the attempt to reduce.

        Meetings aren’t supposed to be fun, there supposed to be productive. Ensuring there aren’t too many meetings and that the ones that are held are productive (right people in attendance, appropriate agenda, no cat videos to start the meeting, etc.) would go a long way to having employees not dread meetings.

    2. EPLawyer*

      I missed that part. This makes it WORSE. This is a meeting to reformat meetings and they lengthen it to throw in something “fun?” Noping right the heck out of there.

  40. Jaydee*

    I mean, I challenged my son to eat a cricket recently. He’s 7, we were at the farmer’s market, and one of the stands was selling varieties of seasoned crickets and had samples out to try. We each took a cinnamon & sugar one. Neither of us rushed to buy a bag of them, but I get why they are a food staple in many cultures. Of course, I challenge him to try new and novel foods pretty regularly because he loves food and is a pretty adventurous eater. And flavored crickets seemed like exactly the sort of thing a 7 year-old boy would be interested in trying.

    Honestly, now I kind of want a boss to challenge me to see who can eat a handful of crickets fastest. Because I would accept that challenge, and unless they were a spicy flavor, I would toss that whole handful in my mouth like a handful of popcorn while the boss (presumably) eats them individually and I give him a look like “Are we done now? Can we get back to the part of this meeting where work happens?”

  41. Office Grump*

    Is it possible the volunteer had been prepped before hand, so there wasn’t actually any on-the-spot pressure to participate? Regardless, it doesn’t add any value to the meeting or do anything to boost morale. I may be a curmudgeon, but I really hate “fun gimmicks” at company-wide meetings. Let’s just cut to the chase, I have work to do. My VP at OldJob used to have people put on skits to announce new products or we had one where everyone wore silly hats (provided by the company) to the meeting. I always dreaded those meetings when they showed up on the calendar. Of course, attendance was MANDATORY.

  42. Adrienne*

    Other concern: a lot of people who are allergic to shellfish (shrimp, crab, etc) will also be allergic to insects (crickets, cicadas, etc) as they’re all arthropods. Unless you’re a biologist this probably isn’t something that would occur to you but I live in a place with those 17 year cicadas and invariably some TV show or website has a recipe for them and INVARIABLY someone ends up in the ER with anaphylaxis.

    1. Baby Fishmouth*

      Wow that’s really interesting! It never would have occurred to me that a shellfish allergy could be related to a bug allergy.

        1. Adrienne*

          Yup! The arthropod phylogenetic tree is densely packed and shares an awful lot of proteins, some of which are a real problem.

      1. Kat in VA*

        I will never forget the day my dad told me that lobsters are basically the cockroaches of the sea.

        I shrugged, speared a big piece of tail off my plate, and ate the whole thing while staring at him. :P

    2. Persimmons*

      Didn’t know this, THANK YOU for sharing! A close friend is allergic to shellfish and also into adventurous foods.

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      I’m ridiculously pleased that the factoid I’ve learned today is that people with shellfish allergies shouldn’t eat crickets.

  43. Anonymice*

    Am I the only one who doesn’t think this is a big deal? As other commenters have pointed out, it’s common in certain places to eat insects and it’s not that much different than a hot dog eating contest with vegetarians in the audience. Also, the participant had a chance to back out AND they’re probably not going to do something like this again based on feedback.

    You’re not always going to be 100% comfortable with everything that happens in the real world. Choose your battles, swallow your pride and let things go sometimes.

      1. Snark*

        I mean, multiple people have posted about the weird power dynamics at play here, so I think it’s been explained well enough – it’s not about the bugs, it’s about a workplace culture where one might feel pressured into bro-y Fear Factor bullshit by the CEO.

        1. Jaguar*

          The CEO first asked who was up for a game. If there’s “a workplace culture where one might feel pressured into bro-y Fear Factor bullshit by the CEO” and you don’t want to participate, don’t volunteer for the game? That seems like a pretty easy out.

          1. Snark*

            Think more broadly. Did the guy – call him Dave – feel awesome about himself afterward? How do his coworkers react and treat him? What about the audience, how did it impact them? What happens next time? Does everyone feel an implicit pressure to play along? Does Dave feel like he has to step up and eat the booger because he ate the crickets last time? Does Dave get special chummy treatment from the CEO that Fergus or Jane don’t because they aren’t his super rad bros who will eat anything? Does it escalate from here?

            OP posted here in the comments. Clearly this has not, at least, improved morale.

            1. Snark*

              And I should add – maybe none of those are factors in this case! Maybe it’s really as simple as you’re reducing it to. But the mere possibility of all those factors being in play means the goddamn CEO really should have had the good sense to play a trivia game instead.

            2. Jaguar*

              What’s the difference between “thinking more broadly” and speculating? Coming up with possible scenarios, then saying that this situation should never happen because in some situations it’s wrong doesn’t strike me as particularly useful. It seems like an exercise in looking to be offended. Like, don’t have a cricket-eating contest because maybe a coworker might treat the guy differently? What is that? The problem with that is the coworker, not with eating a type of food.

              There’s this idea of the meek, helpless employee that I think people are always searching for to justify their ideas but doesn’t actually exist. I’ve never heard anyone here say that they are that person. Could it be that there’s someone who would eat crickets when they don’t want to because they feel pressured by the situation? Sure. That’s a rare beast that’s so lacking in agency, though. I can’t think of anyone I work that fits the description. That’s not to mention that someone so unwilling to say recuse themselves is highly unlikely to take up the challenge to do something they haven’t been told of ahead of time anyway.

              My answer to all your questions is, “Maybe? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” – I disagree with your idea that the merest possibility of an idea going wrong means you shouldn’t do it. That’s balancing risk and reward with dogmatic conservatism. I wouldn’t want to work at a place that anodyne. Would you?

              1. Snark*

                I’d rather work at an anodyne employer than one that gratuitously engages in frat-bro ridiculousness. In fact, I generally have worked at such places, with no particular regrets about that. I’m a friggin’ adult, I don’t need some chump eating crickets in a meeting for no particular reason to have a good day at work. And what, exactly, is the reward here, for the risk? A few moments of titillation?

          2. Washi*

            I’m not particularly grossed out by this situation, but when the CEO says “who’s up for a game” people were probably expecting it to be like, a company trivia contest, not a competition to eat a fairly unusual food.

            I find the frat-y egging on nature of the competition, plus potential cultural sensitivity issues to be more distasteful than the mere idea of eating a cricket.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I’m with you, commented a little after this. I would put this in the ‘amusing diversion’ bucket and move on with my day.

    2. Roscoe*

      I think this is an example of the commenters on this site not being an accurate representation of the world at large. I think some people may have been a bit grossed out, but I admit, I’m shocked at how severe the reactions are on here to this.

      1. smoke tree*

        I wouldn’t be grossed out by this, but it sure wouldn’t be improving my morale. I put it in the same category as impromptu nerf gun battles.

    3. Amber Rose*

      The main issue isn’t the bugs, it’s that it was a surprise that it was bugs. Or eating anything at all. It’s not cool to spring sudden food on people who then feel pressured to not back out because the spotlight is already on them and (as per OP below) there is a history of people being fired due to “negativity.”

      The fact that it was bugs in a culture where eating bugs is not common just adds a crunchy topping to the uncomfortable nature of this whole exercise.

    4. Bea*

      Yeah. Pretty much the same. It’s a dumb game with a box of candy for a prize. A heavy eyeroll is all I’ve got for the whole thing. Not outage or concern.

      The company is poorly ran, they have morale problems and this is them rallying to fix it? A box of chocolates for one “adventurous” person? I see their budget is non-existent. No wonder they have a checked out crew.

  44. Leela*

    I am baffled at the lengths higher ups will go to to improve morale that aren’t improving management, work-life balance, giving people a voice within reason, etc…the things that ACTUALLY improve morale.

    I’ve seen so many of these “fun injections”, things that even if they were fun, will boost morale for like 30 minutes. They slide right off like teflon.

    1. Birch*

      Exactly. And judging from the comments here, they don’t even really boost morale even temporarily–these things just alienate factions of employees from each other until you’ve got the bros ragging on the sticks-in-the-mud and morale ends up even worse than it was before because you’re wasting so much time creating social rifts in the company.

  45. Jady*

    To be fair, there are really some people who would not mind. My husband would have been one of them. (Although for a box of chocolate? Even he would have been annoyed at that.)

    I’m not saying whether or not the ‘challenger’ was one of those people. I’m just saying, it’s possible…

    But c’mon. Get a better prize for a challenge like this!

  46. Anonygrouse*

    Any kind of eating challenge, especially one with a power imbalance, would have been inappropriate in almost any office setting that I’m familiar with. (Granted, I have worked in a lot of places where client food insecurity is often relevant, so the optics would be extra bad.) The bugs are neither here nor there except for the othering/purposeful gross-out attempt aspects.

    Regardless, I’m enjoying imagining an AAM letter from the contestant complaining that everyone in his office is calling him Fergus the Cricket Guy instead of Fergus the Excel Whiz.

  47. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

    If this all hands meeting was anything like the ones at my company, these things are so scripted this would not be a shock to the employee. It would have been set up long before it happened live.

    Many people have already mentioned crickets themselves are pretty eh as well. They are not all that exotic.

    As for right or wrong, eh I don’t see anything truly horrible about this. I see this as one of those things people try to inject fun and humanization into a setting. Likely most people golf clapped at the shenanigans and moved on not giving it another thought.

  48. Not a Mere Device*

    I’ve had teriyaki-flavored dried cricket, which I didn’t much like–too much chitin and not enough “meat”–but while that started with “here’s something weird from my last vacation, for the charity auction,” it turned quickly into someone saying “I’ve had those” (and surprising nobody, since he is known in the group for being an adventurous foodie). So then it became “everyone chip in a little, and we’ll give them to Jon,” who in turn offered them around. But there was no “I dare you” involved: I don’t think the person next to me took one.

    The problem isn’t the crickets–it’s the “I dare you,” the way it could have felt like “backing down” if the person had said no once he discovered what the game was, and the exoticizing of other cultures’ foods. I just double-checked the post and confirmed that the offer was just “a game,” which could also have been cards or a video game or rock-paper-scissors–the person didn’t know that it was a speed-eating contest until he volunteered.

  49. Anonforthis*

    That is disgusting. I have a legit phobia of insects and would have had to leave the room and may have broken out in hives (I get a severe stress reaction from bugs).

    Honestly I’d probably consider quitting. I had a coworker who wore a roach costume to our Halloween parties and I didn’t attend after he was hired. It’s been diagnosed, it is what it is, but I feel like I’d never be quite relaxed in that office again.

    1. Amy*

      I’d totally eat crickets but I have a phobia of people throwing up and would definitely be triggered by witnessing this or any other “gross out” or “binge/speed” food eating challenge.

      I also wonder if this sort of thing might be triggering to people with eating disorders.

      1. Anonforthis*

        Possibly – my phobia is linked to depression (as in, it gets worse when I’m in a depressive cycle) and does seem to have something to do with the idea of eating a bug. When I’m doing really badly I have trouble drinking liquids because I imagine there are bugs in the liquid.

        It’s a really specific psychological quirk, but I would 100% nope out of a company where the CEO (!!!) thought this was appropriate.

  50. tink*

    Gosh, I was really hoping this was going to fairly tame “eat this chocolate covered bug, get a box of normal chocolate” territory but no. Of course not.

  51. OP*

    Hi everyone! This is the letter-writer, and I just wanted to thank Alison for the response , as well as all the commentary from the folks here (I’m glad I’m not the only one finding this odd).

    Just responding to some of the questions/responses:

    1) Honestly, I’m not sure our culture really lends itself to saying ‘no’ to the CEO — there’s a whole lot of pressure to go with the flow, and people have been fired/let go with rumors that their departure had to do with their ‘negativity’ (which is part of the morale issue). So I’m honestly not sure if anyone would have necessarily felt comfortable bowing out once they agreed.

    2) There’s definitely a bro-ish culture in the higher-up levels. It’s not so much an issue for my team or department, but there is some of that culture in play once you hit the senior levels of the main office.

    3) I don’t think it was pre-planned — there was a long pause between the boss asking for a volunteer and someone agreeing to step up, because I think everyone was justifiably nervous that they hadn’t told us the game.

    4) I think the bugs were ordered off of Amazon, not picked up off the floor, thank God.

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      I think it’s time to polish up that resume. I got a headache while reading your letter which I’m fairly certain was caused by my head trying not to explode.

      Anyway, it really doesn’t matter whether the crickets were off Amazon, from the pet store, or scraped out of the stairwell with lint still stuck to them because WTF. The bro-y culture and rumors about “negativity” (presumably they didn’t want to eat crickets?) are reason enough to depart.

    2. EvanMax*

      I mean, it had to be pre-planned to some extent. At least two days, with Prime shipping.

      Unless the crickets were an impulse-buy…

      1. Fergus*

        wonder if they got free shipping with Amazon prime and did they get free chocolate covered ants with the order as a valued customer

      2. zora*

        Pre-planned by the CEO, but not set up as in having the challenge-acceptor chosen ahead of time like a plant at a magic show.

    3. Lumen*

      I keep seeing “this was probably scripted/pre-planned” in comments today and I don’t think it’s the panacea people think it is. (I’m also glad to see the OP debunk it.)

      If the cricket-eater knew this was coming, they still had to be asked to participate. Maybe by their boss. Maybe by the CEO. There’s no guarantee that being asked in private, beforehand, gave them that much more power to say “No” to this. The power dynamic is still a serious problem.

      Also, even if this was a script, what would the script to communicate to the audience (all the other employees)? If it’s intended to come across as spontaneous, well then: message received. “My boss might put me on the spot in front of everyone else and challenge me to a contest. For funsies!”

      The medium is the message, whether pre-planned or not. And the message is one of power imbalances and mistrust between employees and their boss. No wonder morale hasn’t improved.

    4. Gazebo Slayer*

      Bro-ish culture plus a place where people get fired for “negativity” if they say no to the CEO is a horrible, horrible combination, for many reasons.

  52. The Pink Lady*

    The whole setup is so weird, with this bit of enforced hilarity sandwiched between regular meeting stuff. It’s as if it was item 4.2 on the agenda: 10 minutes of organised fun, involving Billy BigBalls enthusiastically munching on whatever Jim scraped off the window ledge this morning, before they settle down to item 4.3, Bob’s exhaustive presentation of the forecast teapot handle figures, with endless graphs, and business as usual resumed. How on earth does this improve morale? You can’t just shoehorn in a bit of ‘fun’, even if this is your definition of the word, and expect everyone to suddenly bond and pledge all their loyalty and effort to the team as a result. Yuck. But all is not lost if you have the chance to give feedback. If everyone else found it as awkward as it appears, I’ll bet this idea never rears its chirpy head again.

  53. Allison*

    You know who thinks it’s “fun” to challenge each other to eat bugs? 10 year-old boys. That’s the vibe I’m getting here. The CEO isn’t just going for fun, he specifically wants a “boys being boys” style of fun. The fact that this is his plan to boost morale seems a little insulting to all the adults who work in his office.

    1. Roscoe*

      I think thats a bit insulting. Just because something isn’t to your taste doesn’t mean only 10 year old boys find it fun. I’m a grown man, good job, mature, and I would think this was hilarious. I don’t think anyone should be forced to do anything, but I’d take the challenge and laugh about it after. Get off your moral high horse.

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        This is at work. The CEO issuing a challenge – it isn’t you with a bunch of your friends hanging out some weekend, where you can personally find funny whatever you want and there isn’t any power dynamic that puts your livelihood at risk. There isn’t anything “hilarious” about a company with a difficult culture and low morale in which the CEO ambushes a lower-level employee with an attempt at a gross-out eating challenge in front of the company.

        1. Roscoe*

          I can still find whatever I want to find funny. YOU don’t have to find it funny or entertaining, and that is fine. Hell, I’m not even arguing that it was a “good” idea, but I also don’t think its this grave sin as many people are making it out to be.

          However, just because its not your thing doesn’t other people can’t find it entertaining. That doesn’t make them immature or anything, just a different sense of humor. I swear, some of you people just think that you are the end all and be all of what is “right” and if someone dares disagree then they have a problem.

          1. Snark*

            Nobody’s saying you’re not allowed to find it funny. They’re saying that if you do find it funny, they’re going to think you have a juvenile sense of humor. And they are allowed to do that, just as you are allowed to think it’s just different and not immature. This is one of those things where it’s not like we can settle the matter with a precise reading from the humorometer.

            But I will say, whining about it doesn’t really help your case.

            1. Roscoe*

              No one is whining. I’m just telling you people to get over yourselves and stop trying to police what other people are allowed to find entertaining.

              I hear people all the time saying that its rude to tell people to lighten up for jokes they don’t find funny, but its ok to tell people their sense of humor is juvenile? That seems a bit one sided no?

              1. Snark*

                Oh, honey. Yes, you’re whining. If you think it doesn’t show, sorry to be the one to break it to you. Take your own advice and get over yourself; the “I’m not sensitive, YOU’RE sensitive” routine isn’t gonna get any traction.

              2. Roscoe*

                Saying “Oh Honey” is the most patronizing thing people ever say. But again, go ahead sit on your high horse and think you are better than anyone who disagrees with you

                1. Snark*

                  Well, you’re a fit judge of tone, if not humor! But you’ve missed my point, which is that you can’t have it both ways. You’re claiming that humor is totally subjective and all types of humor are equally valid and immune from criticism, but if that’s your position, you’re also implicitly agreeing that my view of your sense of humor is perfectly valid. It comes off as particularly self-serving, hence my condescending response. Welcome to human interaction.

  54. Scott Rosenberg*

    It’s just crickets…

    One of my coworkers regularly fills a snack drawer… he said I’d be banned from the snack drawer unless I ate one of his teriyaki flavored crickets that he brought back from a trip to Bangkok

    I wanted access to said snack drawer. I ate the cricket. It was crunchy? No big deal.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s not the crickets, it’s the whole “I DARE YOU” thing, making it a challenge. If the CEO simply brought in some cricket snacks and offered them to the meeting attendees, I don’t think many of us would see this as a problem.

      1. Lissa*

        I think it’s multiple comments with all caps “EWWW” and people saying how disgusting this is, they’d go to HR, quit their jobs etc. that are making people think it’s the crickets….

  55. Help!*

    As a fairly new supervisor inheriting a team with low morale, what types of things do you recommend? We are a small team of 8. I don’t want to seem to gimmicky, but I honestly would love to improve morale/attitude. I cannot make people like their jobs, but I would like to at least help them to not dread coming to work and enjoy the people they work with as much as possible.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You can’t improve morale without knowing why it’s low in the first place, and then addressing those things specifically. It’s not something where someone could give you a list of genuinely pleasant activities that your team would love; you’ve got to address it at the root.

      1. turquoises*

        I mean, are you SURE they didn’t conduct an extensive survey and conclude that “lack of entomophagy” was the cause of low morale? /sarcasm

      2. LNLN*

        A year ago, morale was very low after two teams with different grades and levels of pay were combined. Part of the new team was given way more responsibility than before the change and became client facing with no increase in pay. One of my teammates wanted me to join him in coming up with ideas to improve morale. I declined politely, stating that the morale issue was created by a pay differential on the team, which we could not fix; our management team needed to address that issue (over the following year they failed to do that appropriately and there has been high turn over on the team).

    2. Cinnamonroll*

      When my company wanted to raise morale and make the office seem more fun, they added a ping pong table to the cafeteria (off to the side, separate but visible from the dining tables).

      They also added “company name” cookies at the coffee cafe. There was a contest where the cookies were free every day for a week, where you could try the different recipes, and the winner became the ‘official’ “company name” cookie. The cookie is subsidized so it is $1 – there are other cookies, but they are $2 each.

      Rather than one big event to raise morale, they made little changes that are everyday enjoyable.

    3. LarsTheRealGirl*

      But you CAN make people like their jobs, insofar as you have more power to than presumably most anyone else.

      You can make sure they have manageable workloads, good communication and respectful treatment by other departments, flexibility in their scheduling if they need it, appropriate performance raises and bonuses. You can give them respect, autonomy, actionable feedback.

      These are the types of things that make going to work not-suck. And they take a lot of effort and work from management (and you may not have authority to do all of these things). But resorting to gimmicky “morale boosts” accomplishes none of them.

    4. Jessie the First (or second)*

      Are they not paid enough? Have they had appropriate and decent raises? Have they heard positive feedback and are they recognized for the good work they do? Do they get grief for using their sick time? Are their workloads too high? Do people get to unplug from work and actually take vacations? Do they *get* good vacation time?

      I mean, some low morale can’t be bought with a gimmick or a snack tray in the break room. Some low morale is caused by actual problems, and you have to address those problems to fix morale. Giving me a free cookie every week won’t make me like my job if my boss is constantly screaming at people, I have crappy PTO, and I can’t even call in sick without a doctor’s note (just for example…. recalling one of my first jobs)

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Yes, but I’m guessing the OP as a new supervisor has absolutely zero control over PTO, workload, sick time, etc. Just because someone can’t change the big things doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t try to make the best of what they can do something about.

        This isn’t an all or nothing thing. I’ve seen miserable teams in great workplaces and I’ve seen great teams in miserable workplaces. As a supervisor or manager you can only influence so much. It think it’s kind of crappy to tell someone who is trying to make things more pleasant for their team that if they can’t fix everything that’s out of their control they shouldn’t bother.

    5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Honestly this would be a good Friday topic to bring up with some of the specific challenges the team is having.

      It does kind of depend why the morale is low. We’ve done everything from ‘programs’ to simple things. At the end of the day you might have to spend some time to get to know what makes your team tick. Mine doesn’t like big things that take them away from work for long periods of time. So we stick to either short things that they can opt in on (virtual bingo is a favorite) or 1-2 hour activities during the day that are infrequent.

      I’ve done silly things like buy some lottery tickets and email everyone pictures of them with a subject line of “Quick! Tell us what you would do with your $400m if we won” It turned into about 20 minutes of really interesting ideas. Then the next day after finding out what we really won I sent out an email with the subject line “Quick! Tell us what you will do with the $0.48, that you actually won!” Those answers were hilarious.

      I would try to think of it less of “Building Morale” and more about “Building your Team Culture” Morale is a subjective yardstick that means different things to different people. Culture is what brings people together and gives them shared experiences. A lot less pressure to do the latter, and I’ve found more success by framing it that way.

    6. Jennifer Juniper*

      My last job had the attitude that morale was the responsibility of the employee, not the boss. We were required to write essays on why we admired the company as part of the onboarding process. It was strongly encouraged to put down that we were engaged on the semiannual feedback surveys, no matter what we felt. We had training classes where they told us that if you can sell, you can eat, even in countries where they had no safety net. People in other countries, they told us, were able to eat simply by selling stuff.

      I am now applying for disability due to said job exacerbating multiple mental health issues.

      My point is that you are taking the initiative instead of foisting it on the employees, so you are a vast improvement over my last company.

    1. Fergus*

      yea rest guys are thinking it, i just got the balls to say it…lmao That’s why I AM FERGUS

    1. Amber Rose*

      Less immediately repulsive to the average North American person, but still hugely problematic due to the power imbalances, and the sheer number of people with shellfish allergies. Springing food on people in a situation where they feel pressured to not back out is Not Cool.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Still inappropriate in this context. Let’s say it were shrimp, and the CEO said, “I will give a box of chocolate to whoever eats a pound of shrimp the fastest.” In the middle of a meeting. In the middle of the work day. “I dare you!” Yup. Still not working for me. It’s not the bugs, it’s the challenge aspect. And also the idea that “I’m going to challenge you to do something GROSS”– even if only the CEO thinks it’s “gross” or “weird”, it’s still inappropriate.

      I’d feel the same way about wings. Eating contests really have no place in (most functional) conferences rooms.

      1. Lumen*

        Agreed on both counts: CEO challenging subordinates? Not great. Eating contests in the workplace? Also not great. Regardless of what the challenge is or what you’re eating in the contest.

      2. Jennifer Juniper*

        Would there be a liability issue if the contestant had had to go to the hospital due to a previously-unknown cricket allergy or choking?

    3. smoke tree*

      Still problematic in theory, but if the CEO is willing to subsidize my shrimp habit, I am not strong enough to refuse.

  56. Cinnamonroll*

    When my company wanted to raise morale and make the office seem more fun, they added a ping pong table to the cafeteria (off to the side, separate but visible from the dining tables).

    They also added “company name” cookies at the coffee cafe. There was a contest where the cookies were free every day for a week, where you could try the different recipes, and the winner became the ‘official’ “company name” cookie. The cookie is subsidized so it is $1 – there are other cookies, but they are $2 each.

    Rather than one big event to raise morale, they made little changes that are everyday enjoyable.

  57. RhinoWino*

    My guess is the both people involved in the cricket eating were Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

    We aren’t phased by eating bugs.

  58. Angie*

    I would totally do this. I don’t actually see what the big deal is. If you don’t want to eat them, don’t eat them, but people all over the world dead insects all the time. This is not as big a deal as the letter writer or some of you were making it out to be. I’ve probably eaten more bugs and spiders accidentally in the past 5 years then all the Crickets that they ate combined.

    1. Roscoe*

      Shhh. The hivemind will tell you that you are immature and wrong because you are ok with something they aren’t.

      1. Bibliospork*

        I think “hive mind” is a little uncalled for. If you go back through the thread, there’s plenty of people pushing back on the “it’s bad because bugs are gross” thinking.

      2. Cat Herder*

        I think “hivemind” is rather clever, given the sitch.

        But we should definitely bee nice…

    2. Nacho*

      Right, it seems like the CEO was respectful of the coworker’s limits and unless I’m missing something, there wasn’t any pressure on the coworker to continue once the challenge was reveled.

  59. CleverGirl*

    I think phrasing this as “dead crickets” is misleading. If it was dried crickets sold for human consumption, which I’m assuming it was, it was a food product. We don’t refer to any of our other food as “dead [something]”, that makes it sound gross and unsanitary. People would say “would you like a lamb chop?” Not “want some dead lamb?”

    I agree it sounds like a dumb thing to do in a meeting, but it’s not like he collected some dead bugs from his windowsill and cajoled someone into eating them.

    1. Snark*

      Hey, want some deceased, precisely dismembered, unweaned juvenile sheep with a side of nightshade roots and some deeply spoiled, ten year old berry juice to wash it all down?

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        You forgot the mint jelly! Or would that be noxious weed steeped in boiled bones and hides of cows and pigs

        1. smoke tree*

          For dessert, perhaps some milk that has solidified and developed visible veins of mold, and smells like feet. (For what it’s worth, I love blue cheese, but I’m aware that it is objectively disgusting.)

    2. Mad Baggins*

      This is a really good point and probably why some people misunderstood (myself included) whether it was food or just bugs the CEO found on the floor. By the same token, if the CEO challenged people to eat “pork” (which is food) vs “dead pig” (which is… not? Did he just find some roadkill or something?) we would have different reactions based on the nuance of the word.

  60. Anon (this time)*

    This would trigger some serious phobic reactions in me for at least a couple of days (honestly even reading this was Not Great). But I’m not here to bring up false ADA equivalence, because that’s not the case.

    I would just be uncomfortable, anxious, and physically miserable for a few days as a result of being in a meeting where this happened, and (here’s the real point) I wouldn’t feel comfortable in the office culture (as it is described) telling anyone how it affected me or asking them to Please Not. I’d be afraid that I’d have to sit through something like that again without any recourse to escape it. After all, it’s the CEO.

    So that’s why I think it was a bad idea. Even if the cricket-eater was well and truly fine with it, does that mean everyone in the company is obligated to witness it?

  61. JadeSG*

    Relax people!!
    I’m laughing so hard right now reading most of the comments! Yes it might be weird to do it in an office. BUT eating “dead bugs” is not a big deal! I’ve had them and they aren’t bad. Indigenous people ate them as a source of protein and still do!!!
    No wonder your office is having has morale issues, you sound boring. Seems like your boss is doing everything he can to make his employees happy, you should give him credit since most CEO’s don’t care about their employees morals.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s not “boring” to prefer an office environment where people aren’t challenged to do silly things during a regular meeting during the workday, regardless of what that challenge is. I wouldn’t want a scavenger hunt sprung on me either. The fact that the challenge involved bugs is actually unimportant here.

  62. LGC*

    This is the content I come to AAM for on Wednesdays. God bless.

    OK, to be serious, honestly…my first conclusion was that this was staged and the employee had consented in advance. (Even after reading this blog for a year, I still have faith that most employers stick to reasonable standards. I don’t know why.) I still think this was really misguided – what’s the purpose of a cricket eating contest, exactly? – but somehow I’m not THAT aghast for the employee.

    (As for the rest of you guys? On one hand (the hand not filled with crickets), the point of this was definitely to shock, and that’s totally unacceptable in most professional environments, imo. On the other hand, as a lot of people pointed out, crickets are edible and considered food in some cultures.)

  63. Dread Minion Sid*

    Dang. When my company has a morale problem (like right now), HR adds more “casual Fridays” to the schedule (this summer we’ve had a casual Friday at least every other week) and maybe donuts on some random morning. No one that I’ve spoken to believes the casual Fridays have accomplished a thing to boost morale, and I wonder what HR’s play will be if the rumored pay freeze this year isn’t a rumor.

  64. Vermonter*

    I have been served fried crickets at a formal dinner. (I didn’t eat them because I’m afraid of insects.) It feels really insensitive (at best) to make it a “bet” or a “dare” to eat what is a normal food to a lot of people? This wasn’t a pie eating contest where the goal is just to eat the most the fastest. The “ickiness” was definitely a huge part of the dare.

    1. Kay*

      Eh I don’t think its insensitive. You could make the same competition using tongue or offal or something. I think its rare enough that they’re not really yucking someone’s yum

  65. Kay*

    This is an odd thing to do in the office but I guess if the co-worker was genuinely happy to give it a go then I guess laugh incredulously and let it go? I’ve eaten grasshoppers but not crickets but they were fried, not just dead so I also probably find it a little less weird than others. Although I definitely don’t think it merits any action or HR intervention unless it felt like people were pressured to compete. It’s also not very likely to help with morale beyond everyone laughing at how weird their boss is.

  66. turquoises*

    Sooooooo many questions!

    “More enjoyable meetings” = “eating arthropods, chitinous exoskelton and all”? I QUESTION THIS DECISION MAKING PROCESS

    I mean, were these at least food-grade crickets or did they just ….find them somewhere?

    Of course, eating crickets IS normal in some parts of the world, so we have to remember that any feelings of shock and disgust are hugely culturally-mediated. The crickets are almost a red herring, because there’s so much wrong with having an eating contest AT ALL in a work context… and with the power differential of being put on the spot and not wanting to say no to the bigwigs.

    1. turquoises*

      actually, I’m amending that because I’m too tired to see what’s staring me in the face.

      the crickets aren’t a red herring– at the very least in a work context, it adds an additional layer of inappropriateness by spotlighting another culture’s food as “gross”.

  67. Carlie*

    I find food eating challenges completely awful no matter what the food. It’s too much what bullies do to vulnerable kids to manipulate them into performing for them. “Here, eat this gross thing and you can join our club. Ha,no you can’t!” “I bet Jimmy would eat a whole (whatever) for $10, wouldn’t you? Ooo, he is such a pig because he ate it all.” It’s just so gross it makes my skin crawl. I can’t see any situation in which an adult dares someone to eat something that isn’t all ways of terrible.

    1. Birch*

      Same. Like turquoises says above, there’s also a gross cultural exploitation element. Plus I can’t help but think of all the people in the world who are hungry, and the nastiness element of gagging on food–the whole sport is based on the idea that someone’s going to throw up and that’s the entertaining bit, isn’t it? It’s gluttony or force-feeding, and either way it’s revolting and does not EVER belong in a work context.

  68. gsa*

    Always a lively discussion there at AMA.
    I am always confused by an answer that does not include, “Sure, I’d love to…” or “No thank you.”

    Would I eat a live bug? cricket most likely, cockroach most definitely not.

    Who knows…

  69. Cathy - ACK!*

    #1: This could have boosted morale and made the CEO and cricket-eating employee office heroes, IF the morale was low due to the office cricket problem.

    #2: If the CEO had won, Fergus would just be “The Guy Who Slowly Ate Bugs While Being Recorded and Doesn’t Even Have a Box of Chocolates to Show for It”.

    #3: Hopefully Fergus used the opportunity to call in sick the next day – “I think I’m coming down with a bug.”

  70. Birch*

    OP, I think your office should focus on fixing the problem with morale, rather than trying to boost it by covering up the real issues with this bizarre band-aid of “fun.” To be entirely honest I have zero patience for this sweep-issues-under-the-rug bro culture BS and would start job searching immediately. Just like relationship problems aren’t really due to forgetting to take the trash out, workplace morale problems are never due to lack of bug eating contests, pies in the face, holiday parties, lunch meetings, or flavored coffee. Fix. The. Real. Problems.

  71. doingmyjob*

    oh goodness it is posts like these that make me so happy I don’t work in the private sector.

    1. OP*

      Nobody said anything during the meeting itself, but afterwards everyone was talking about how bizarre it was. People couldn’t believe that it had actually just happened right in front of us. There was a lot of stunned cricket-based humor for a few days.

  72. Cat Herder*

    Many cultures eat insects. Many. It’s not universally disgusting. I myself have eaten chocolate covered crickets (my students dared me; it was easy — plenty of chocolate coating). Lots of people in the US not only eat shrimp, crabs, crawfish, lobster, but view these as luxury foods — these critters are all arthropods with many legs, antennae, and wierd buglike bodies.

    Yeah, crickets and other insects = culturally seen as disgusting in much of the middle class Western world. So that’s the problem with the OP’s situation — the CEO put someone on the spot and should have known it would gross out many of the other employees, and pranks are not appropriate for professional meetings, particularly when engineered by the person with the most power. Not a good choice for boosting morale (I’m guessing better pay and benefits, flexible working hours, etc would all be helpful in improving moral).

    But eating insects? Not in itself the problem.

  73. Anonymous Celebrity*

    How did the crickets die? Was it insecticide? Wouldn’t that be toxic for the people eating the cricket corpses?

    Seriously, that is just plain ridiculous. I’d be looking for work elsewhere. If this is what management considers enjoyable – watching people eat dead bugs – then I’m not surprised they have a morale problem. I’d be out of there ASAP.

    I’ve read a lot of bizarre stuff on this website, but this takes the cake in terms of just being totally off-the-wall. Makes me wonder what the CEO is going to think of next to create a more enjoyable, “less formal” employee environment. I shudder to think and wouldn’t want to stick around to find out.

  74. Dan*

    I’m honestly amazed that eating bugs isn’t MORE of a thing in the US, especially among health-conscious types. Crickets have a calorie-to-protein ratio better than almost any other food on earth, cricket farming is extremely environmentally friendly, AND they taste like nothing, so you can season them with anything and they’ll just taste like the seasoning. They’re basically potato chips for grown-ups.

    1. Dan*

      In fact, if I were feeling a little more fighty I would argue that given the huge environmental impacts of mammal-based meat production, being willing to eat beef or pork but unwilling to eat cricket is borderline unethical.

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