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It took some prodding and a side of mint ice cream to get Regan Meyer to even agree to try the Cold Stone Creamerys new delicacy.

I cant believe Im doing this, the 20-year-old said in one of the creamery's Salt Lake stores, but she stuck the spoon in her mouth and bit down.

Eeuuuw! I can feel the cricket!

Yes, crickets baked, dipped in chocolate and mixed into ice cream. The national ice cream store chain is trying to give its customers a taste of Survivor, though somewhat sweetened from the television experience where the contestants ate insects straight.

Like the show, Cold Stone Creamery is dangling a prize to tempt the timid: free ice cream on the next visit and entry into a raffle for a trip to the Australian filming site of the CBS reality show.

Josh Christensen, co-owner of the Logan Cold Stone store, said he has served about 60 people the chocolate-covered insects, which are overnighted to the shop so they are fresh every day.

"Some people say they are a little crunchy. Some say, 'I can't believe I ate a cricket,' some start asking for drinks," Christensen said. "One guy that comes in buys six of them and eats them plain."

The company's corporate headquarters came up with the marketing scheme.

We just wanted to have fun with it, said Brian Curin, director of marketing for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company. He said the campaign is the most innovative in the companys 13-year history. All 142 stores in 26 states, primarily in the West and South, are participating.

Patty Gardiner, who owns a Cold Stone Creamery in Salt Lake City, said she had sold about 50 servings since the store started the promotion a week ago. A serving costs 49 cents.

One guy ate 10 crickets all by himself, she said. He loved them; just kept buying them.

Meyer, after swallowing her sample and regaining her composure, said: I guess it really didnt taste all that bad. It was just the idea.

Gardiners crickets come from a candy company called Hotlix that specializes in bug-based treats, like its Tequila lollipop with a worm inside. The company raises, bakes and sells crickets, maggots, cockroaches, ants and worms for general consumption. On special occasions it produces scorpions and mosquito larvae.

For chocolate-covered crickets, Hotlix raises about 10,000 crickets in cages until they are about six weeks old, then forces them into hibernation, or nearly frozen, and bakes them for about five minutes. Then they are doused in chocolate.

Hotlix owner Larry Peterman said the crickets could be gut-loaded or fed bananas, apples or grass to give them a different flavor.

The Utah Department of Health hasnt received any complaints from the Cold Stone Creamerys cricket eaters.

I would be more concerned about people eating too much chocolate than too many crickets, said Stephen McDonald, the health departments marketing director.

Christensen has tried the bugs himself.

"They're not too bad … as long as you don't think about what you're eating."

On the Net:

Cold Stone Creamery: http://coldstonecreamery.com

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