Topeka Pest Managers Take A Bite Out Of Squirmy Foes
By Aly Van Dyke
November 5th, 2012
Some olive oil, a lot of garlic and a dash of paprika — turns out the right seasonings can make even the nastiest of “fear-factor” dares palatable.
Or so two Topeka managers for Schendel Pest Services discovered Monday, when they downed as many mealworms as they could in 30 seconds to raise money for the local United Way chapter.
But, apparently, no amount of spices could take away the sensation of the inch-long larvae squirming around their mouth.
“They tasted like butter and garlic,” said manager Mark Garrett after losing the competition. “It was the texture that unsettling.”
In a word, Garrett, who ultimately lost the competition, described the texture as “wormy.”
The mealworm competition alone raised $423 this year, bringing the company’s total United Way campaign to roughly $5,300. Schendel employees donated money to the managers they most wanted to see eat worms.
The two managers, Garrett and Carl Turner, were good sports about their task, claiming they were glad they could help a good cause. But they did vow to exact their revenge.
“We’ll think of something,” Turner said, smiling.
That might prove to be difficult, considering multiple employees voluntarily ate the leftover worms.
Many more spectators, however, were too grossed out to go close to the table. One woman claimed she wouldn’t be able to eat Chinese food for a while, because the pile of worms resembled fried rice. One of last year’s competitors, who had to eat live cockroaches, said he got the better end of the deal.
Schendel’s purchased two cans of live worms — about 200 total — from an online vendor, Fluker Farms. The same farm, located in southern Louisiana, supplied last year’s cockroaches.
Schendel president Brent Boles cooked the mealworms on the stove top using the “special sauce” described earlier.
“When I want something to taste good at home, I use garlic and oil,” he said of the origin of his concoction. “I figured mealworms would be the same.”
The first-time insect chef said he had a hard and fast rule not to consume any of his crawling creations.
Most who braved a taste described the worms as Garrett did, heavily seasoned with butter and garlic. But Topeka Capital-Journal photographer Thad Alton offered the most descriptive account.
He said the worms tasted crunchy and sweet, and had a texture similar to a mixture undercooked fried rice and risotto. He also said he appreciated the “smokiness” of the paprika.
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