Amy Eddings is the local host of “All Things Considered,” which airs from 4 PM until 8 PM weekdays. She started hosting in 2004, after long-time host JoAnn Allen left for the West Coast. Before ATC, Amy was a reporter. Her favorite topics were--and still are--garbage and recycling, which she still reports on whenever she can get out of the studio.
Valentine's Day: Say It With Roaches
Nothing Says "I Love You" Like a Chocolate Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Last Valentines Day, the Wildlife Conservation Society raised nearly $60,000 by letting lovers name one of the Bronx Zoo's 58,000 Madagascar hissing cockroaches after their beloved. WCS is repeating the cockroach naming rights effort this month, and doubling down with a life-sized chocolate hissing cockroach. Perfect for gifting!
I'm pretty sure there aren't any hissing cockroach molds to be had at baking supply stores, even in a shopper's paradise like New York City. So I asked the Cocoa-Roach's creator how she did it.
Sabrina Berkowitz, the 34-year-old founder of The Chocolate Box NYC, said she had to make the mold herself. She started with a clay mold of a for-real hissing cockroach that the zoo gave her.
"I didn't want it to touch food," she explains. (That sounds reasonable.) She turned to another conservation group, which sent her their version of a Madagascar hissing cockroach, a plastic one complete with antennae and hairy legs sticking out. But she couldn't cast these delicate parts, because they'd break off too easily. So she turned again to the clay version and decided to carve the legs and antennae onto the bug herself.
"I went on Google images, and boy....there are some special images of cockroaches there, especially when giving birth." Berkowitz said hissing cockroaches lay eggs that look like "itty bitty pieces of transparent rice." Millions of itty bitty pieces of transparent rice.
She laughs. "Ahhh, the miracle of life!"
Photo: Sabrina Berkowitz. By Betsy Rapoport.
The way Berkowitz describes it, it was almost a miracle that she was able to fill the order. She had 13 days to mold 2,000 cocoa-roaches and handpaint them with melted coca butter and food coloring.
"I was working in the kitchen in the dead of night, it was just horrible," she said. "My mother was calling at 3:00 a.m. to keep me company. On the day of delivery, I had nine boxes, each about 22 pounds. It was me and my 75-year-old mother-in-law, loading them in the car to take to the zoo."
While at the zoo, Berkowitz did not take the opportunity to see her chocolate creation's inspiration, up close and personal in the zoo's four-year-old Madagascar exhibit.
"No, no, I'm good. I'm good," she said, laughing.
"This is as close as I'm getting to a real cockroach." She held up her semi-sweet chocolate version, keeping it at arm's length. She has yet to sample one.
"I didn't bite into it because it's still a roach!" she exclaimed.
I guess she and the folks at the Wildlife Conservation Society are hoping others will feel differently. I hate little, conventional, apartment-sized roaches with a passion, and find no reason to alter those feelings for a supersized one that hisses, even if it lives halfway around the world.
But a chocolate hissing cockroach? Hey, it's Valentines Day. Love's in the air.
Photo: The real thing -- Madagascar hissing cockroaches, in the mood for love. Photos by The Wildlife Conservation Society.