Marketer's Pledge Could Be Hard to Swallow

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Has Jason Whong bitten off more than he can chew? Whong, marketing director for Ambrosia Software, vowed publicly last month he would put his mealworm where his mouth was and eat insects if any software products shipped by his company require bug fixes between now and Mac World 2000 in July.


Four days after his pledge, Ambrosia released Cythera, a role-playing game, which has required two bug fix patches so far, according to Whong.


"Maybe I can get a local winery to recommend which wines go with which bugs," said Whong. "People think I'm a nut."


The 10-year-old Rochester, NY, company, which develops utilities as well as games, expects to release at least four more products in the next six to 10 months. All of Ambrosia's software is released online as shareware.


Whong, who dreamed up the pledge, said he's leaning towards mealworms and crickets, but will also consider noshing on salted roasted grasshoppers, an idea he got from his Korean father. "My dad said Koreans eat salted roasted grasshoppers with beer instead of peanuts at the bar, so I might have to try that out."


The online announcement at Ambrosia's Web site (www.ambrosiasw.com) of the bug-free pledge provides a link to Orkin Pest Contol's site (www.orkin.com/html/cuisine.html), which provides a handful of genuine insect recipes, including Bee Grubs in Coconut Cream, Grasshopper Fritters and, the simplest one of all, Dragonfly Nymphs. The two-sentence recipe instructs, "Boil dragonfly nymphs. Eat them."


Whong said he will ingest the insects at Mac World in New York next summer. Anything not found in local pet stores, he said, will be ordered from Carolina Biological Supply. He will dine alone if necessary, but admitted he'd love some company. "I'm inviting other companies to get in on it," he said. "Anybody who feels like taking the pledge with us is welcome to. We'll be sure to supply bugs for them to eat and stiff libations for them to wash them down."


It seems clear Whong had a good idea when he made the pledge that insect ingesting would be the likely outcome. The last bug-free software from Ambrosia was Avara, a battle game released in 1996. He defines a bug as "anything that requires a fix later because it doesn't work the first time."
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