I am so over avocados. I'm done with the undersized teeny tiny ones from Trader Joe's, I'm done with the unripe ones that will leave you with jagged lacerations on your avocado-holding hand, and I'm especially done with the hollowed-out ones that have been used as coffee cups as of late. And because of my rampant anti-avocado feelings, I expected to hate the Guac-E Talk-E walkie talkies too, because—good lord—they're walkie talkies shaped like fucking avocados, which is not something that I recalled anyone asking for, at any time, ever.
But then I spoke with Guac-E Talk-E inventor and Kickstarter pusher Andrew Nelson, and he was just so ridiculously earnest about it, that it was hard not to hope that it meets its funding goal. Nelson, a recent Vanderbilt University graduate, has gone to Guatemala to work on the devices and, for him, it's less about biting the endless avocado trend than it is about connecting with part of his family heritage. Also, he knows that the entire idea is silly, which makes it even more endearing.
MUNCHIES: Hi, Andrew. So what made you decided create a set of avocado-shaped walkie talkies?
Andrew Nelson: I just graduated, with majors in chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, and I didn't really want to go straight to grad school. The project really started as a joke with my friends. I don't know how we stumbled upon [the idea], but months afterward, I was still laughing about it. I also thought it would be a viable product. I've been working on it here and, candidly, it's my dream.
By here, you mean Guatemala?
Yes, we're doing it in Guatemala. My mom's side of the family is from here, and I've never really had a relationship with that part of my family before. That's was the real reason I came here and I think it could be a blessing for the people here.
How do you mean?
By making it in Guatemala and providing good jobs for the people. This is my passion.
Whoa, so what kind of scale are you talking? How many people could you employ?
It depends on how successful the campaign is. I think three people could probably make 20 units in one day, maybe more. So if the Kickstarter results in orders of 1,000, 2,000 units, people would be hired in multiples of three. If it gets into the hands of, like, Wal-Mart or something, things would get really serious. But for now, it's a limited number of people.
What do you think is your target market?
These are pretty standard walkie talkies. They're for families or, like, someone who's gone to the park. It's still a novelty item, so it wouldn't be something that employees at a store would use.
Do you think people will carry a walkie-talkie? I mean, we have phones and countless apps for communication already…
The devices themselves fill a gap. With a walkie-talkie, you just have it on. You may not be communicating, but you do have that open line, regardless. If you're out in the woods, it's an obvious one, when your cell phone wouldn't have reception. I think there are instances where you would have it in your pocket and flipped on and someone can just communicate with you when they need you.
Why an avocado?
That's the joke. 'Guac,' like guacamole. It just gives a different form to a product that everyone already knows—and we use a real avocado to mold the product.
So which came first, the design or the name?
The name definitely came first. It was "Guac-E Talk-E, it looks like an avocado, haha" and then it was "OK, how do we make this real?"
Do you think we've hit peak avocado?
Thanks for speaking with us.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.