GRAND CHUTE – Serve real ants on a pretzel stick at the Wisconsin State Fair and you have viral video potential, which All Things Jerky owner Jessica Ellenbecker predicted.
After a Food Insider team spent several hours shooting video at the All Things Jerky stand, Ellenbecker was proved right.
Food Insider posted a Twitter video that has more than 5,000 likes and nearly 4,000 retweets. Us Food then picked up on the popular video, reporting on the unusual offering.
Ellenbecker says the video was even picked up by BBC. Though she’s most hoping that “Good Morning America” comes calling.
The All Things Jerky version of ants on a log is made with a pretzel stick dipped in marshmallow fluff then rolled in black and Queen Weaver ants. Ellenbecker says the black ants are tart and the Queen Weaver are more salty.
Ants on a stick was intended to be a State Fair-only treat, like the cricket nachos they served last year at their other stand, Exotic Meat Grill, but Ellenbecker says she is now working on a way to have real ants on a stick available at All Things Jerky locations.
Most likely they will use white chocolate in place of the fluff because the marshmallow creme is pretty much a sweet edible glue and impractical for shipping or even taking home. Every ants on a stick at the State Fair was made to order.
Ellenbecker, who opened All Things Jerky in Grand Chute in 2011, says customers consumed four pounds of ants. Four pounds may not sound like a lot, but considering it only takes a fraction of an ounce to coat each serving, that’s a lot of ants.
And no, the All Things Jerky team doesn’t source the ants from their — or anyone’s — backyard. Like all food they sell at the store, including the scorpion suckers, the ants are sourced through properly licensed vendor.
As to how they settled on fluff as the pretzel rod coating, Ellenbecker says they bought a bunch of items from Woodmans to test including a spreadable cheese. The cheese was too messy, but the fluff proved to be the stickiest substance and the sweet provided balance to the tar and saltiness of the ants and pretzel.
Last year as customers gobbled cricket nachos, Ellenbecker says they went through all their crickets on the first day and had to repeatedly reorder. They asked guests what they wanted for this year’s fair. Ants, they said.
Ellenbecker says termites were among the top responses for next year. She said she hasn’t tried them but hears they have a sweet flavor.
Another customer suggestion that has her intrigued is a caterpillar that when fried puffs up like a Cheeto. She’s not sure if she could find a supplier for that but would like to try.
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