SNACKS WITH ADDED HOP: UK supermarket to start selling insect nibbles

London – VIJAY SHAH via Sky News

If you are tired of the same old potato crisps, peanuts and trail mix for your snacking needs, and want to try something radically different, a supermarket in the UK has begun selling an ‘edible insects’ range, where you can now chow on crickets or graze on a grasshopper.

Sainsbury’s, a mid-market retail chain headquartered in London, will be selling various crunchy dried insects as snacks across 250 of its UK stores, retailing in small packs for £1.50 eachSky News reported yesterday. The range, titled ‘Eat Grub’ – a play on the traditional Cockney dialect term for food, ‘grub’ – is made by an external supplier of roast insects of the same name who have approached the supermarket chain to promote their products.


A highlight of the Eat Grub range includes BBQ-smoked crickets which taste-testers have described as being “crunchy in texture with a rich smoky flavour”. Sainsbury’s is not the first to sell the range of creepy-crawly nibbles though. Online upmarket supermarket Ocado, a division of Britain’s Waitrose and Partners retail firm, has been stocking Eat Grub for five months previously, to mixed perceptions among its shoppers. 

One online reviewer wrote on Ocado’s site in reference to the BBQ crickets: “My hubby [husband]… said they didn’t taste at all of BBQ… [all] he could taste was fish sauce? Way too expensive as well.”

Another reviewer however was more upbeat about the snacks. They wrote: “Tried the final flavour in this selection from Eat Grub and LOVED this – much tastier than a bag of crisps without the calories. Couldnt (sic) stop eating them!”

Sainsbury’s advised consumers brave enough to try the edible insects and grubs to eat them straight out of the packet as a quick snack or use them in cooking as a garnish for tacos, noodles and salads.

Insects and arachnids are common as a cheap and protein-rich food source for non-vegetarians/vegans in many parts of the world. In Malawi, people armed with giant nets catch and eat mosquitoes, crickets are roasted as a snack in Thailand, fried scorpions are big business in China, and Cambodians will go to great lengths to lure a species of endemic burrowing tarantula out of their holes to fry them and even sell them to passing tourists.

In the UK and much of the Western world, the idea of eating insects and other arthropods is often met with revulsion, even though crustaceans and molluscs are widely consumed there. However with intensive farming practices of larger livestock such as cows and sheep being increasingly harmful for the environment and animal welfare, experts have encouraged consumers and retailers to look at more sustainable sources of nutrition, with insects being high on that list of new food outlets.

According to the Eat Grub company, founded in 2014 by Shami Radia and Neil Whippey to introduce more people in the West to insect foods, dried crickets contain more protein per gram than beef, chicken or pork – with 68g of protein per 100g, compared to 31g of protein in beef.

Radia said: “Currently, insects are eaten and enjoyed by two billion people worldwide.

“We’re on a mission to show the West that as well as having very strong sustainability and environmental credentials, they are also seriously tasty and shouldn’t be overlooked as a great snack or recipe ingredient.”

According to a survey conducted by Sainsbury’s and Eat Grub, ten per cent of the British public have eaten insect snacks and around half have rated them as delicious.


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“Sainsbury’s launches £1.50 edible insect range in UK supermarket first” – Sky News/Sky UK (17 November 2018)


“Fried Crickets – Chiang Mai Night Bazaar” – Alpha, Flickr (12 March 2009)


NATHAN’S PIES AND EELS: Legendary East London cafe to close after 80 years

London – VIJAY SHAH and TOM HORTON via Newham Recorder

East London is to lose another long-time landmark after a business that specialises in selling the area’s traditional delicacy of jellied eels alongside hot football match snacks announced it would be calling time after eighty years in business, according to a report by the local newspaper, the Newham Recorder.


Nathan’s Pies and Eels, based in Barking Road, Upton Park, near the former Boleyn Stadium of the football club West Ham United, is a ‘pie and mash’ shop, a restaurant selling traditional London food such as steak and kidney pies and mashed potato It has been run by the Nathan family since it first opened eighty years ago, with forty of those years spent at the same Barking Road site. The shop was very popular with football fans travelling in to watch West Ham play, with its traditional East London fare a highly sought after introduction to local cuisine.

The shop was opened by the great-grandfather of current owner Richard Nathan. However, since West Ham United moved to the former Olympic Stadium in nearby Stratford in 2016, Nathan’s steadily lost business and, in addition to many of its staff nearing retirement age, forcing the shop to reconsider its future. Richard plans to keep it business as usual until the 26th of May this year when Nathan’s will serve its last pie. In its heyday, the small shop was frequented by even the giants of the West Ham locker room, such as Rio Ferdinand and Julian Dicks, during the glory days of the 1990s and 2000s

Speaking with the Newham Recorder, Nathan said the closure of the café would be a ‘sad day’ for the Nathan family, the shop staff and fans of it’s hunger-busting pies and mash, and that the closure was ‘the end of an era’.

“It’s a bit cheesy, but we are like a big family”, Nathan said of his close-knit staff, many of whom have worked at the café for years.

The owner of Nathan’s Pies and Eels himself plans to retrain as a handyman after the shop ceases trading in less than two weeks, the Recorder said. The café has been inundated with condolences and cards from well-wishers.


Newham Recorder, Facebook, Facebook Inc.

“Iconic family-run Upton Park pie and mash shop to close after 80 years in business” – Tom Horton, Newham Recorder/Archant (10 May 2018)


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TESCO CUSTARD CREAM SPREAD: A new take on a nation’s favourite biscuit

The humble custard cream biscuit is a much-loved institution for teatime in the U.K. Consisting simply of a vanilla custard flavoured filling sandwiched between two elaborately-decorated oblong biscuits, the custard cream has long been loved for its wholesome flavour and its duplicity in eating methods. Many just simply take a bite out of the biscuits while a significant minority will separate the biscuits in half and lick off the filling. The custard cream biscuit also lends itself superbly to that other British teatime institution – being dunked in a cup of tea or milk.

Supermarket retailer Tesco has decided to make its own take on these homely custard delights by launching its own custard cream spread based on the filling. A single jar contains 400 grams of the sweet custardy goodness and is being retailed for the price of £1.99, according to Tesco’s website. The main ingredients of the product if you are curious are custard cream biscuits (37%), rapeseed oil, sugar, palm oil, natural vanilla flavouring, and hazelnuts. Various media outlets have already hailed the spread as a revolutionary change for the average British lunchtime.

The new product, which comes in a peanut butter style jar, has a yellow plastic lid and carries a label emblazoned with the Tesco logo on a background of the highly ornate face of a custard cream biscuit. It has already become a huge hit with the store’s customers and also has practically blown up the internet as well, with popular news feed site Buzzfeed describing the spread as “a revolution in biscuits”. The spread understandably makes a good filling for custard cream biscuits, but Twitter users have reportedly used it to stick together two Digestives too, while one particularly adventurous person added porridge oats to the jar to make a custard cream oatmeal breakfast. It has also been seen in currant buns and in bagels. It also looks like it would make a good filling for sandwiches or a dip for other kinds of biscuits as well, if Twitter is anything to go by. 

Not everyone has been so enthusiastic about the spread. Some has criticised the spread’s nutritional value and its soft consistency, while one critic claimed that the supermarket chain was trying to imitate the United States. Another described it as “all kinds of wrong”, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

Tesco have also launched other spreads in its British biscuits series, including a chocolate flavoured version replicating the inviting taste of the Bourbon biscuit, which is similar to custard creams but in an entirely chocolaty format. However apparently this spread has not been as popular. You can also buy one that tastes of chocolate chip cookies or Oreos. Basic chocolate spreads made for use in sandwiches have been long established in the UK, with Nestle and Cadbury’s being leaders in the field. The Italian hazelnut concoction Nutella, manufactured by Ferrero SpA, also enjoys cult popularity among British shoppers, but Tesco are the first food manufacturer to market a spread directly influenced by the U.K.’s culinary traditions.

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“Tesco Is Selling Custard Cream Biscuit Spread And Life Will Never Be The Same” – Patrick Smith, Buzzfeed/BuzzFeed, Inc (31 October 2014)
“Tesco Custard Cream Spread 400G” – Tesco
“Is Tesco’s new custard cream biscuit spread genius or madness?” – Leah Hyslop, The Telegraph – Home – Food and Drink – Food and Drink News/Telegraph Media Group Limited (31 October 2014)
“New Tesco Custard Cream Biscuit Spread” –  Katherine GG, Grocery Gems (5 September 2014)
BuzzFeed UK, Twitter/Twitter Inc. (31 October 2014)