And Now, I'd Like to have a Brief Word with Progresso

Usually, I complain that I get less than what I've paid for, especially because I try to live frugally, which is difficult after the nearby 99-cent store burnt down recently. That unfortunate event means that all my expenses for food, cleaning supplies and other stupid items that I need -- like a bucket to catch the water leaking from underneath my sink because the landlord won't fix it and I lack the tools to fix it myself -- now cost significantly more than they did just a short time ago.

Significantly more.

But today, when I was eating my meagre dinner of Progresso Chicken and Wild Rice soup, I was surprised to discover a gift, a little something extra that I hadn't purchased. At least not knowingly, nor intentionally.

As I was chewing, I felt a hard little .. something .. that was definitely not chewable that was stuck between my teeth. I picked this little something out of my teeth. Balanced on my finger was an object that looked remarkably like the picture on the right, except my mystery item was smaller and brown in color. Can any of you guess what this is?

I know most of you are not entomologists, so to spare you a headache as your brain works overtime trying to identify this wee toothpick, I'll just tell you what it is. That is the hind leg from a grasshopper, family Acrididae. Stuck in my teeth. After I consumed a can of Progresso Chicken and Wild Rice soup.

I know that some of you might ask if maybe I had mistakenly eaten from a dirty bowl where an insect leg already was present, but let me assure you that no, this is not possible since I wash my (one) bowl between uses and I always rinse it out before using it for a meal. (Yes, I am somewhat anal-retentive about these things.)

Second, I also assure you that there are no insect legs like this to be found anywhere in Manhattan at this time of year, especially in a fourth floor apartment. Such a distinctive leg could only have come from the point of origin before the soup was canned. How can I be sure this is a grasshopper leg? Well, it's true I did not DNA fingerprint it (the DNA was likely destroyed by being cooked, canned and then cooked again before it became stuck in my teeth), so I cannot be 100% certain. But I spent a fair portion of my childhood running around a semiarid region of the country, unsupervised, and in the process, I became quite a skilled bug hunter. Grasshoppers were plentiful so they became a specialty. So I recognize a grasshopper leg when I see one, and especially when I pick it out from between my teeth.

I realize that at least a few countries in the world view insects as a culinary delicacy, but alas, I was not raised in any of them so I missed out on this valuable education. So I would like to give some advice to Progresso: even though I know I am eating bugs whenever I consume commercially prepared foods, I really would prefer not to be reminded of this fact, especially in the middle of a meal. If you insist on feeding me bugs, the least you can do is (1) include that fact in the ingredients label as required by law and (2) stop charging me $3 per can of soup (before taxes).

Thank you Progresso.

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If it was just like in the photo I'd also say grasshopper legs; they're quite different from other bug legs. How silly - everyone knows you don't eat the legs! I've never heard of stewing them either; usually they're roasted in a pan or deep fried.

Well, as long as it isn't blatta elegans (also somewhat easy to identify from the legs). I'm told they're eaten in Vietnam but that's a culinary experience I'd rather avoid. Unlike the horse antipasti in Sicily, I'm confident I can recognize bugs.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 25 Jun 2009 #permalink

Could you sue them?

I realise that you might be adverse to this in principle and it could be very stressful; just a thought.

Another thing I noticed, you only have a PayPl donate button; what happened to the other one that allowed a donation via amazon?

I can't bring myself to use paypal as they want my bank details.

By Chris' Wills (not verified) on 26 Jun 2009 #permalink

AUGH! I eat a TON of Progresso (when I can get it on sale). You've ruined it for me forever...they were supposed to be the reputable soup people...

I rarely miss reading your blog. I wish that today had been one of those rare days. I had just eaten a bowl of Progresso soup.

By stillwaggon (not verified) on 26 Jun 2009 #permalink


Maybe if you send that along in an envelope with a copy of this entry, they'll give you free soup vouchers. That is, if you are still interested in eating their soup. That's probably what I'd do.

Let me just say again.....EW.

Dear "GrrlScientist", My name is Mike Grant and I am a Product Specialist at General Mills and my product responsibilities include Progresso Soups. We would like to have an opportunity to work with you and try to idetify the item you found in your Progresso Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. If you could contact me at 1-800-245-2277, extension 8310, I would like to work with you to investigate this situation and assure you that finding something like you described is not acceptable to those of us at Progresso Soups. Please call or e-mail me at the address above with your contact information so we can begin our investigation. It is important to us to keep our good customers satisfied and happy with their purchase, so I look forward to your call. Sincerely, Mike Grant Progresso Product Specialist

By Mike Grant (not verified) on 26 Jun 2009 #permalink

In a funny coincidence, I'm currently reading: Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect That Shaped the American Frontier by Jeffrey A. Lockwood. It follows the natural and Human history of the now extinct Rocky Mountain Locust(Melanoplus spretus) who's population was in the trillions in the late 1880's and then it went extinct. One of the suggested control methods for the species was to eat them! Some methods of preparation included: Indians scoping up this salted, sun-dried fest from the shores of the Great Salt Lake, roasted in trays like seeds and ground into meal and eaten as mush or cakes, roasted in pits, in larger specimens heads, legs and wings are separated before cooking, then boiled and afterward stewed with a few vegetables, and a little butter, pepper, salt and vinegar, made an excellent fricassee. Also the locust could be made into soup. Hey maybe Progresso could make a "Prairie Shrimp and Wild Rice Soup"! The reason I say "Prairie Shrimp" is because the locust were supposed to taste like shrimp. The species were little morsels of 60% protein and full of calories. Probably not a food for people on a diet though? DEAR MIKE GRANT: How about giving Grrlscientist FREE Progresso soup for LIFE???

By Ian "Birdbooke… (not verified) on 26 Jun 2009 #permalink

What I want to know does a grasshoper's leg, frail little thing that it is, become un-chewable?

Other than that: Progresso with BONUS protein!

Ok, I have to admit that's some pretty impressive response time for customer service.

unchewable? well, it has an exoskeleton made of chitin, which is a hard biomaterial that cannot be digested without the aid of some very special enzymes known as chitinases. to answer your question, the hardness of the leg made a nice contrast to the ease of chewing for everything else in the soup. so if it hadn't gotten lodged between my teeth, i likely would have swallowed it without discovering it first.

gross. i recently found an inch long grasshopper in a salad that i had made, i think it came from my triple-washed ready to eat spinach. luckily i saw it before i ate it, but it definitely grossed me out. odd how grasshoppers are finding their way into multiple food items . . .

Interesting how companies have clued into blogs. This isn't the first time I've seen someone complain about a product and then a customer service person comments wanting to help resolve the issue. Hoorah for the 21st century!

"..not acceptable.." to Progresso, but hardly preventable. As you said, we are all eating insects (and rodent urine, feces, hair etc.) in/on nearly every food. No biggie as long as it is cooked, in the case of rodents, uncooked insects are likely harmless. I'm only surprised it was intact. We had the hugely enjoyable cicada "bloom" last year, but I couldn't quite bring myself to eat any. Stoopid enculturation.
I too am a paypalphobe, and miss the Amazon button. Very easy and convenient, no more beer for you, Grrl. At least not from me via Amazon. But you're welcome to drop by for a Warsteiner's any time, and maybe I can rustle up a bowl of fried salted crickets. rb

arby -- i don't think i am impoverished. i live in challenging (and sometimes stressful) circumstances, and really wish i had health (medical and dental) care. but my apartment is fine -- it's the landlord who makes it miserable because he is determined to get rich off the backs of the poor by not taking care of the building and his tenants as he is supposed to do. i don't want "stuff" .. why do i need more than one bowl? i don't. besides, i make up for this by having too many books .. publishers love it when you write reviews in exchange for a review copy of their books.

I didn't mean to suggest you are impoverished, you most certainly are not in any real sense, I just miss being able to shout you to an occasional beer (or pony) via the Amazon button. I am bowl rich, my neighbors got tired of bringing their own bowls when they came over for chili, and gave me four bowls. Bless their hearts. rb

I recently had a very similar experience while eating canned spinich. While chewing I bit down on something hard. I removed it from my mouth, assuming that it was some sort of stem or something, and sat it aside on my plate. Giving it a second glace I noticed small barbs. I picked it back up for a closer look, and was completely horrified to realize that what I had pulled from my mouth was an insect leg. Upon further inspection from my husband he concluded that it was the leg of a grasshopper. Needless to say, I will never eat canned spinich again. And after reading this I may not be able to eat canned soup again either. All this makes me very curious about the measures these companies take to be sure unwanted creatures are not making their way into their food products. I also wonder where the rest of the grasshopper ended up!