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Public health officials have suggested a shop in the college town of Columbia, S.C. cool it with a cicada-flavored ice cream that customers apparently can't get enough of during the insect's once-every-13-years invasion.
Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream contacted the health department after it sold out of its only batch of the insect-filled snack within hours of its June 1 debut. Employees collected the bountiful bugs in their backyards and removed most of the dead cicadas' wings but saved some for texture's sake.
The cicadas were fully cooked by boiling then covered in brown sugar and milk chocolate. The base ice cream is a brown sugar and butter flavor.
The store was going to make another batch for the weekend, but a sign on the door told customers it won't be back until 2024. Seems like the City of Columbia/Boone County Departrment of Public Health and Human Services couldn't find the proper cooking temperature guidelines next to its listings for beef, chicken, fish and pork.
"The food code doesn't directly address cicadas," environmental health manager Gerry Worley said. "We advised against it."
The first batch of the ice cream was so popular store employees didn't even have a chance to put the product in a display case before eager customers scooped it up the night before its official on-sale date. Customers hoping for a crunchy taste "bombarded" the store the next morning, only to be disappointed, said employee Christian Losciale, who helped create the concoction.
Sparky's owner Scott Southwick didn't expect the brisk sales.
"We thought we'd make a small batch, and it would last forever," he said.
Losciale compared the insect's flavor to a peanut. One customer with no plans to try the seasonal ice cream was Joan Masters, who was at Sparky's with her 5-year-old son Jack before the flavor's brisk but brief unveiling.
"One (cicada) landed on me at lunch, and I just screamed," she said.