Off the Shelf
What’s the next big protein source for dog treats? Anne Carlson and her team at Berkeley’s Jiminy’s are banking on crickets. Yep, as in the bugs, because crickets are nutritious, sustainable, humane, and tasty. Plus, they are rich in protein, iron, vitamins, amino acids, omegas, and fiber, and when they mixed with other things dogs like, pups seem to gobble them up without compunction.
“The nutrition is what really got me. It’s off the hook,” Carlson said in recent telephone interview with Bay Woof, praising the protein source for its small carbon footprint. She is a former Bay Area executive for huge pet food brands.
Bay Woof received a sampler ($6.50) that contained three .5-ounce packets of Original Recipe, Sweet Potato & Apple Recipe, and Peanut Butter & Blueberry Recipe to share with doggie subjects. The treats also come in a 6-ounce size that cost $13.30. The brand debuted in 2017.
Cody, the loyal terrier test dog, liked the little crunchy, nutty-smelling, crumbly squares that are enhanced with other yummy ingredients like flax, pumpkin, and lentils that dogs often favor. A few pups with more discerning palates — Luna the chiweenie and Pomeranians Foxy and Robin — weren’t interested in the goodies, no matter how well the insects were disguised. Barn dogs Lakota, an Aussie, and Zoe, a Schnoodle, liked them fine; the horse subjects (not an intended market), Carmel and Taco, not so much.
Jiminy’s products are now in 150 stores in 29 states with re-orders coming in nicely, Carlson said. She works with a San Leandro cricket farm for human-grade crickets for the treats and has used a Canadian cricket source, too.
Is there much of an ick factor? Carlson said no: “It’s not like there are legs or antennae sticking out. It’s a biscuit.”
In development now is a Jiminy’s fourth flavor with peas and carrots with a soft and chewy consistency — dog training guru Ian Dunbar is advising — more suited as training treats than the current biscuity format. And after that, cat treats then dog food and cat food based on crickets, Carlson said, but human edibles are not in the plans.
“We can make more of an impact with dogs and cats,” she said, noting that people at most might eat crickets once or twice a week compared to dogs and cats whose diets could be more like 80 percent from crickets. Find out more at Jiminys.com.
Main article photo by: Photo courtesy of Jiminy’s