"I think one thing most people are afraid of when they imagine eating insects is that they'll be squishy or gooey inside," said Brittney Bollay, a Seattle Mariners season ticketholder. "But the chapulines were light and crunchy, and mostly tasted like lime with a hint of chili."
Poquitos' reputation as one of Seattle's finest Mexican eateries is well known. The restaurant has been lauded among the city's best in their category, which is why during a pre-Opening Day function for local media, they created quite the buzz upon unveiling chapulines as a menu item.
"At first, people were shocked when they saw them," said Arce. The media's coverage was widespread, prompting added curiosity from fans.
"On Opening Day the food lines are always ridiculous," Bollay said. Like many others, she was one of the fans hyped up by the announcement before the season started. She had to wait a few days to try them, as demand for the item far exceeded Poquitos' wildest expectations.
By just their first home series last season, the team had sold more than 18,000 grasshoppers, according to Mariners spokesperson, Rebecca Hale. It is more than Poquitos restaurant usually sells in an entire year.
The massive demand prompted the team to make a supplemental order to their provider to cover the expected quota during the rest of their homestand in mid-April.
People often ask me if they are alive. But those are common questions you'd make if you were eating something new. When they walk away, you can tell they're quite satisfied. Manny Arce, executive chef at Poquitos
Fearing the rush shipments would become a regular occurrence, the insects were limited in their availability. Now, the restaurant caps the item to 312 orders per game -- a number picked in honor Mariners legend Edgar Martinez, who posted the figure as his career batting average.
Throughout the season, baseball fans tried the dish as a kind of badge of honor, as fans posted their reactions on social media.
It might be a big stretch to say Poquitos and the Seattle Mariners represent a significant introduction to insect consumption in the United States, but they have broadened the concept of typical ballpark food.
At $4 per serving, chapulines plucked from the fields of Oaxaca, processed in Mexican factories and shipped to a corner of the continental United States end their journey in a nondescript clear plastic cup, many times on the other side of a smartphone's camera lens.
"[At Safeco Field], people often ask me if they are alive," Arce said. "But those are common questions you'd make if you were eating something new. When they walk away, you can tell they're quite satisfied."
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