free admission! all you have to do is…, you have to eat a live giant Madagascar hissing cockroach. Then you can get into Six Flags Over Kentucky Kingdom‘s Fright Fest free of charge.

Ready to go line up at the gate for your turn? The big bugs will be served from silver platters by ghoulish chefs.

This from the Louisville Courier-Journal:

In the mood for a crunchy, lowfat snack? Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom has just the treat for you — a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Sink your teeth into one of these creepy critters for a promotion that’s part of the amusement park’s Fright Fest Halloween celebration, which officially opens this weekend: Guests who eat one of the insects from noon to 2 p.m. tomorrow get free admission. …

“If somebody wants to bring chocolate or mustard or a drink to wash it down with, it’s fine with us,” said Carolyn McLean, public relations manager for Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. “They are hand-raised on a farm and in laboratories, and they are hand-fed organic protein.”

Aren’t you delighted to know that the roaches are, umm, organic? I don’t suppose we want to spend too much time parsing the phrase organic protein, though — after all, using the technical definition of organic, organic protein could include moldy egg whites, road kill, or a large percentage of the trash from your local McDonald’s. From their tummies to your tummy. Mm, mm, good!

Needless to say, protests have arisen from PETA and local parents, on the basis of everything from cockroach cruelty to the importance of raising children who are kind to bugs. (If you’re under 18, a parent has to sign a waiver before you can chow down.) The park spokesperson has responded airily, “People complaining are not going to stop us.” She does warn, however, that people with shellfish allergies need to avoid cockroaches as well. I’ve always heard that they taste just like shrimp…

7 responses to “free admission! all you have to do is…

  1. Wierd indeed. Where I live people eat practically every insect- except cockroaches. It’s just done as a matter of course, there’s no particular excitement to it. In any market you will find bowls of crickets, cicadas, water bugs, ants eggs, grubs that live in bamboo and more. Tarantulas and scorpions are considered particular delicacies. Makes sense as they’re plentiful and a good cheap source of protein. It’s quite fun watching one of these programmes where someone has to eat an insect as a bravado- Thais just don’t understand what the fuss is about! However, I think I would be wary about eating anything served by someone who looked like the lady in your picture.

  2. tomeemayeepa,
    My friends from China were happy to hear about the 17-year cicadas arriving in Louisville, KY, USA. They told me how to catch and cook them to ensure they are delicate and delicious. Needless to say, I didn’t join in on that meal! I’m not much of a meat-eater anyway, so eating insect “meat” just kinda’ puts me over the edge!

  3. tomeemayeepa, I’ve watched a couple of TV documentaries in which people strolled through Eastern markets commenting on the variety of insect life for sale. I recall seeing scorpions on skewers and, as you say, bowls and baskets full of all other sorts of crawly life. I suppose if I was starving, I could manage to down a tarantula, but otherwise I’m just too culturally biased against eating bugs!

    It reminds me of a time about 10 years ago when a Unitarian minister from Transylvania visited our church. Our minister took him to visit many families while he was here, and he had dinner at my parents’ house. The meal featured many of the American foods that we enjoyed best and thought he might like. One of them was corn pudding (whole-kernel corn, eggs, milk, flour, salt — kind of a cross between a souflee and custard), which I’ve made for years and which my family adores. He ate a little of it, but we learned afterward (too late!) that in his country corn is strictly animal food. I suppose it would be like us visiting somewhere and being served sauteed hay or a bowl of raw oats. So many edible items in the world, but we’ve all learned separate lessons about what’s “OK” to eat.

    Laura, I’m definitely with you on the cidadas. I’ve grown up seeing them and hearing them in the summer and in general feeling that they’re icky (although I felt better after learning last year that they don’t have mouths and therefore can’t bite — I was always worried that one would land on me and start chewing). I read about some folks who were looking forward to a meal of cicadas cooked several different ways. All I can say is, NO thank you!

    Also, this update from the newspaper:
    “The Conner family of Illinois didn’t mind crunching down on a live Madagascar hissing cockroach Saturday to get into Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom for free. … Vicki and Michael Conner of Altamont, Ill., brought their five boys to Kentucky Kingdom. They and four of the boys, ages 9-16, all ate a roach. They said their youngest son was too little. “I can’t believe we did that,” Vicki Conner said. “It squirted. You could feel it moving – but it saved us $200.”

    EWWWWW! 😀

  4. There are times when I am more than usually pleased to be a vegetarian and this is one of them.

    Given the wide variety of items considered “food” around the world it is hard to assert that any one is in and of itself unacceptable. Preferences are cultural rather than biological. For example, I have seen a book showing that even here in England, there are many plants and leaves occurring naturally that are perfectly edible and nutritious but are never used as food. Why not? There is no obvious reason other than habit or ignorance.

    The idea of eating cockroaches strikes us as disgusting but, being a vegetarian, I now find the idea of eating flesh disgusting even without eating animals alive which is, I think, even more disgusting. But that’s a matter of ethics, not nutrition.

    I assume that Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom is mounting this “offer” in order to “promote” farmed cockroaches as food. People who take up the offer are therefore being manipulated into providing free publicity for the “product”. If they were as smart as they think they are, they would ask to be paid 😉


  5. “Preferences are cultural rather than biological.” Yes, also economic. Many people living in the countryside here have trouble finding the 25 cents per person a day to buy sticky rice and chili paste. They are surrounded by protein-containing insects and nutritious plants and nothing edible is rejected. Partly, I think, because it makes them feel good, they actually prefer things they collect in the woods to more expensive food even when it’s offered free. There’s a vast store of knowledge on the value of plants (as medicine as well as food) that is no longer commonplace in more advanced societies. One thing Thais cannot understand- why are locusts such a problem? Why don’t people simply eat them?
    Me? I, too, dislike the idea of eating any animal and use that as an excuse to avoid insects.
    As for that Corner family, it makes you wonder what else they would do to save $200.

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