sealPurdue News

April 2000

Bowl fever continues with Purdue's Bug Bowl

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Photos and b-roll of previous Bug Bowls available. Contact Jesica Webb, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2079,

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University is making its second appearance in a bowl this year. But this bowl doesn't have anything to do with football. It's an insect bowl, and the 10th annual Purdue Bug Bowl on April 15 and 16 will be filled with as much action as a Boilermaker football game.

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In the cricket-spitting arena, insects will be flying through the air with the grace of the passes that Drew Brees threw in the New Year's Day Outback Bowl. Cricket spitting, which became part of Bug Bowl in 1997 as a truly tongue-in-cheek contest, has become a national event. CNN covered the event last year, and the Guinness Book of Records now sanctions cricket spitting as an official sport.

Contestants shouldn't expect to walk away the winner unless they've been practicing – the world record is 32 feet, 1 and 1/4 inches. Cricket spitting was so popular in past Bug Bowls that official rules and regulations have been developed. There are now four divisions: men's, women's, youth boys, and youth girls.

Another crowd pleaser, cockroach racing, could be compared to Purdue's offensive running game. It draws people in like flies and keeps them interested for the duration of the contest. Crowd members choose their favorite roach and cheer it on to victory at Purdue's "Roach Hill Downs" racecourse. Official jockeys for each roach are picked from among the young children in the audience. The roaches race for the much-envied "Old Open Can," a bronzed garbage can with a cockroach sitting on top. The names of past winners are engraved on plaques hanging from the side.

No sporting event is complete without food, so the Thomas Say Society – also known as the undergraduate entomology club – will cook up an Epicurean delight, chocolate-covered crickets. Tom Turpin, professor of entomology at Purdue and co-founder of the event, says that chocolate-covered crickets taste just like peanut-flavored candy.

"You taste the chocolate, not the cricket," Turpin says. "Insects do have kind of a nutty taste to them, so it's just like you're eating a chocolate-covered peanut."

Bug Bowl also includes a cake-decorating contest, insect crafts, an insect petting zoo, and the caterpillar canter, a six-legged race where children imitate caterpillar locomotion.

The Bug Bowl is part of Purdue's SpringFest, which draws more than 10,000 people to campus each year. All activities are free and run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. SpringFest includes the 87th annual Horticulture Show, the 37th annual Veterinary Medicine Open House, an animal sciences open house and scores of other activities. It features departments from the Schools of Agriculture, Consumer and Family Sciences, Science, and Veterinary Medicine.

The Purdue Student Union Board also celebrates Mothers Weekend on April 15 and 16 with an Arts and Crafts Show.

CONTACTS: Tom Turpin, (765) 494-44568,; Jennifer Franklin, (765) 494-9061

Compiled by Susan Gaidos, (765) 494-2081;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Six-year-old Hannah Becker handles a 9-inch tropical millipede as sister Erica, 3, looks on at Purdue's 1999 Bug Bowl. Both girls are from West Lafayette. This year's Bug Bowl will be April 15-16. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)
A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: bugbowl2000.preview

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