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Can You Eat the Tequila Worm? Answered (2024 Best Edition)

Can You Eat The Tequila Worm

Some may have seen it personally while others have heard, but there are mezcal bottles that contain tequila worms. And with all the rumors and theories about a tequila worm, one thing is for sure: it started as a marketing ploy in the 1940s. 

Now, the million-dollar question is – can you eat the tequila worm? Scroll down to find out what we have discovered.

Are Tequila Worms Edible? 

Tequila Bottle

Yes, tequila worms inside the bottle of mezcal are edible. Eating it may be gross, especially if you are not into exotic foods but did you know that if you eat the worm, you are also partaking in a pre-Hispanic tradition? 

Whether it is purely a marketing angle aimed at Americans or not, the last shot of mezcal with worms is safe to consume.

The maguey worms came from the maguey plant, one of the agave plants used to make the spirit. 

What Are Tequila Worms?

Tequila worms are actually mezcal worms. The mezcal worm is moth larvae called gusano de maguey, and you can find them in the agave plant.  

There are two types of gusano. The first one is a larva of the beetle Scyphophorus Acupunctatus – it’s a white larva [2].

The other one is a larva of the moth Comadia Redtenbacheri- it’s a red worm from the Cossidae family of moths. 

What Do They Taste Like?

Tequila with worm

Tequila worms taste like mezcal because they have been pickled in alcoholic beverages for a long period. 

Some people claim it tastes like chicken, but when we tried eating the worm, it had a flavor similar to almonds. Also, it is not crunchy but chewy in texture. 

Nowadays, many people love to pour worm salt (toasted and grounded worm with salt and chilis) or gusano with chili powder in orange, then consume it. 

Is It Safe To Eat Them?

Yes, it is safe to eat the worm. 

What happens when you eat the maguey worm? Nothing. 

There are no proven side effects associated with consuming the larvae, so you can be confident in consuming them.

In some cultures, especially in Mexico, consuming insects are acceptable and part of their pre-Hispanic culture.  

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How Do You Eat It?

To consume a tequila worm, you have to take a shot of the alcoholic beverage with the worm, and you can either swallow it whole or munch it.

If you are curious about the flavor and its texture, you are free to chew the worm.

What’s The Purpose of Tequila Worms? 

worm in a glass

According to research, the main purpose of tequila worms was for a marketing strategy. When mezcals started in America, distilleries had already established tequila production, and mezcals were seen as a lower agave spirit. 

The worms were added to make the people believe that mezcal is a superior drink.

This marketing gimmick made people drink more mezcal, especially in the 1940s and 1950s. 

There are three other theories why distilleries placed the insect inside the bottle of alcohol:

  1. Jacobo Lozano Páez, a distiller in the 1940s, says it changes the flavor of the booze;
  2. It brings strength and good fortune; and
  3. The alcohol is very strong. 

What Tequilas Have Worms? 

There are no tequilas that have worms. Contrary to popular belief, mezcal, not tequila, contains worms. 

Let’s be clear: All tequilas are mezcal, but not all mezcals are tequilas [1], and only mezcals have worms. 

A bottle of tequila can be considered a mezcal since it is made from agave (agave tequilana).

Both tequila and mezcal can be made in agave, but 100% blue agave plant is used for the tequila drink. 

Are These Hallucinogenic? 

worms

No, the worms are not hallucinogenic. If you have eaten the insect and hallucinated, the credit goes to the amount of mezcals you consumed. 

Moreso, the insects, are free of pesticides and other chemicals, so it is not medically proven to cause hallucinations.   

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When did they stop putting worms in tequila?

The practice of placing worms in bottles of tequila was never widespread and is actually associated with certain types of mezcal, particularly those produced in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

The worm, actually the larval form of a moth that infests agave plants, was sometimes added to mezcal bottles as a marketing gimmick to distinguish certain brands.

However, this practice has largely fallen out of favor due to changes in regulations and consumer preferences. It’s essential to note that authentic tequila, regulated by strict standards set by the Mexican government, does not include worms.

Will tequila worms make you drunk?

Contrary to popular belief, consuming the worm found in some bottles of mezcal or other agave spirits will not enhance or alter your level of intoxication. The worm, often a larva of the Hypopta agavis moth, is added for novelty rather than any intoxicating effect.

Its presence in the bottle is primarily a marketing ploy and has no significant impact on the alcohol content or effects of the beverage.

Ingesting the worm is entirely optional and does not contribute to the drinking experience beyond its visual appeal to some consumers.

Was the tradition of drinking mezcal with a worm already established in Mexico?

The tradition of consuming mezcal with a worm predates its commercialization and marketing as a novelty. In certain regions of Mexico, particularly Oaxaca, where mezcal has deep cultural roots, it was believed that the presence of the worm signified the spirit’s authenticity and quality. Some indigenous communities viewed the worm as possessing mystical or aphrodisiac properties.

However, the practice of adding the worm to mezcal bottles for mass consumption emerged relatively recently as a marketing strategy to attract attention to certain brands. Despite its origins in tradition, the inclusion of the worm in mezcal bottles is now largely associated with commercialization rather than authentic cultural practices.

What was the purpose or intention behind adding the worm to the mezcal bottles?

Adding a worm to mezcal bottles originated as a marketing tactic rather than a traditional practice. The presence of the worm was intended to distinguish certain brands of mezcal and create a unique selling point that would attract consumers’ attention. It served as a novelty factor, sparking curiosity and conversation around the product.

However, in terms of the beverage itself, the worm had no significant impact on flavor or quality. Despite attempts to associate the worm with authenticity or traditional practices, its inclusion in mezcal bottles was primarily a commercial strategy aimed at differentiating brands in a competitive market.

What was the target market for the worm marketing angle?

The marketing angle of adding the worm to mezcal was aimed at the American market, as tequila was already popular in the U.S. And mezcal needed a way to differentiate itself.

Is Eating the Tequila Worm Dangerous?

Eating the tequila worm may not be inherently dangerous, but it’s not considered safe either. The worm can contain high levels of alcohol and may be preserved in substances like formaldehyde. Additionally, consuming the worm could lead to digestive issues or allergic reactions.

What Does the Tequila Worm Symbolize?

The tequila worm, or gusano, is not typically found in bottles of tequila but is sometimes included in bottles of mezcal. In Mexican folklore, the worm is believed to have mystical properties and is sometimes thought to enhance the drinker’s experience. However, this is more of a marketing ploy than a genuine tradition.

Is It Illegal to Sell Tequila with a Worm in Some Countries?

In Mexico, the use of the worm in mezcal has been regulated, and it’s illegal to sell bottles of mezcal with the worm as of 1995. However, this regulation doesn’t apply to other countries, and some brands still include the worm as a novelty.

Does Eating the Tequila Worm Change the Taste of the Drink?

Eating the tequila worm typically doesn’t affect the taste of the drink significantly. The worm itself doesn’t have a strong flavor, and any perceived change in taste is likely due to the drinker’s perception rather than an actual alteration in flavor.

Can Eating the Tequila Worm Make You Drunk?

Eating the tequila worm alone is unlikely to make you drunk, as it contains minimal alcohol compared to the tequila or mezcal itself. However, consuming alcohol in any form can contribute to intoxication if consumed excessively.

Are There Any Health Benefits to Eating the Tequila Worm?

There are no scientifically proven health benefits to eating the tequila worm. In fact, consuming the worm could pose health risks due to potential contamination or the presence of preservatives used to preserve it.

So, Can You Eat The Tequila Worm?

Yes, it is totally fine to consume the tequila worm. The worm is edible, safe to consume, and will not cause any harm to your health. 

There are different theories on why gusano is placed inside the tequila bottle, but it is clear that alterations in the flavor and magical powers are just glorified name tags.

The real story revolves around the marketing plan and the different identities of mezcals. 

References: 

  1. What’s the Difference Between Tequila and Mezcal?
  2. Scyphophorus acupunctatus (Coleoptera: Dryophthoridae): A Weevil Threatening the Production of Agave in Mexico
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