Is anything as romantic as a chocolate-covered grasshopper? The thought of biting into one the these crunchy treats might make your skin crawl, but people have been eating insects much longer than they’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day. Grasshoppers, ants, worms, and spiders are all standard menu items from Cambodia to Mexico, and bugs provide a sustainable source of high-quality, low-fat protein for millions worldwide. Lately, however, they’ve been popping up in some unexpected places—such as in your sampler box of chocolates.

Why the sudden popularity? There’s the obvious novelty factor, and plenty of people try insect snacks out of curiosity. For many, the true surprise comes when they take that second bite and realize they’re eating something delicious. Other insect-cuisine fans are trying to be more ecologically responsible, and dining on bugs is a great way to eat well while minimizing your carbon footprint. 

Chocolate-covered ants and crickets are the most common chocolate-insect candies available in the U.S. today, but you can also find chocolate-covered scorpions, worms, and spiders—plus variety packs with everything from chocolate-dipped critters to candied larvae. For the ultimate in romance, set up a chocolate-fondue station with dried insects for dipping. New Orleans’ Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium recently opened an exhibit showcasing ways to eat insects, and the chocolate-fondue fountain was a hit with both kids and adults. 

If you live outside a major city, you’ll need to look online for a good source of buggy treats, but you won’t have to look far. The chocolate-bug market is expanding, and there are dozens of suppliers eager to put insects in the center of your sweetheart's dessert plate on Valentine's Day.