By now, you’ve probably heard that eating bugs is in your future. Insects are protein-rich and efficient to farm, and the UN has predicted we’ll largely be surviving off of beetle bites and caterpillar consommé by 2050. Chefs are already whipping up recipes for curried grasshoppers, buffalo worm nuggets, and chocolate mealworm spread—although, of course, the easiest way of tucking in to these delicacies is just eating the insects whole. So what’s stopping you?
Maybe your tongue has a few questions. But if it’s merely the lack of an appropriate utensil that is holding you back, designer Wataru Kobayashi has you covered. In his new project, BUGBUG, Kobayashi introduces a set of cutlery that’ll have you gleefully crunching exoskeletons, scooping scorpions, and sinking your teeth into a different style of wing.
When Kobayashi first heard the UN’s prediction, he thought of one of his own favorite snacks—chicken giblets. Although they’re a common dish in his homeland of Japan, many cooks elsewhere don’t think of them as food, and throw them away without a second thought. If he had grown up somewhere else, Kobayashi says, “I would never have known the taste.”
Bugs face similar barriers on their journey to become a global foodstuff. “People seem not to take [the idea of] eating insects positively or seriously,” he says. “We haven’t prepared to eat insects as a daily meal.”
So Kobayashi decided to make it easier to imagine. The BUGBUG starter set contains five utensils: two sets of spear-ended chopsticks (one long pair and one short), a paddle for crushing and scooping, a fork with tiny tines, and, most intriguingly, a set of extremely precise pincers that fit over the bearer’s thumb and middle finger.
Each is made of sustainable, long-lasting materials, like brass and cherrywood, and the whole set comes with a vegan-leather carrying case and a set of small, suspiciously petri-like dishes. Promotional pictures depict a perfect hipster picnic: diners spear grubs and scarf scorpions alongside hummus, red wine, and a cream-cheese-and-mealworm sandwich.
You can’t get your paws on BUGBUG yet—it is, thus far, just a prototype. And if history is any guide, early adopters should expect some backlash. When the dinner fork was first brought to Europe, by noblewoman Maria Argyropoulina in 1004 A.D., it was met with jeers and condemnation (“God in his wisdom has provided man with natural forks—his fingers,” one local clergyman insisted).
Times change, though, and it helps to be prepared. When the bug-eating future inevitably arrives, are you really going to want to start with your hands?