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Why you no longer have to be terrified of opening a coconut

(Photo: Coco Jack)
A smoothie-lover’s favorite tools—besides the blender, of course. (Photo: Coco Jack)

In a perfect world, opening a coconut to make a smoothie (or hair treatment) would be as simple as cracking an egg. But as nature would have it, a few more tools (and much more gusto) are required—and wielding a cleaver is not exactly a task most people feel up to.

Cue Coco Jack, a six-month-old company that promises to make opening a Young Thai coconut (the white ones you see at smoothie bars and Whole Foods) as easy knocking on a stubborn jar lid. It’s set of tools you won’t find at your hardware store, and sells for $42. (Which is both cheaper than a drill and a visit to the ER.)

“Coco Jack solves a real problem that real people have, and solves it easily,” says 38-year-old founder Dave Goodman, an orchestra conductor who also founded the Wild Ginger Philharmonic after attending Juilliard and the Curtis Institute of Music on full scholarships.

How a conductor turned his attention to coconuts

Coco Jack founder Dave Goodman. (Photo: Dave Goodman)
Coco Jack founder Dave Goodman. (Photo: Dave Goodman)

Goodman found conducting to be a high-pressure profession and was getting sick all the time, so he decided to make some changes. He worked on a farm in California, attended flight school in Colorado (adding to his eclectic resume), and then moved back to New York City.

There, he visited a friend who introduced him to a raw food diet, which Goodman says “changed his life forever,” and made him “obsessed” with eating coconuts—although opening them was always a challenge.

“I came pretty close to losing my fingers while trying to open them a few times,” he says. “I began drawing pictures in my head of how I could make it easier.”

So he hopped in his Airstream and drove out to his now-hometown of Austin, where he worked with a blacksmith to create the first ever Coco Jack prototype. One hundred tries and a year-and-a-half later, he was finally happy with the results and took it to market. “We launched December 1, 2013, with 2,000 units, and by December 5, we were completely sold out,” he says, proudly. “Almost 100 retailers, including Whole Foods, immediately came knocking,” although he says he turned down their requests in the interest of first refining his business model.

Our test-drive using Coco Jack

The Coco Jack is a silver circle with a handle that you place on the top center of the coconut, and it comes with a mallet you use to hammer it down. Once it’s in, you push down on the handle like a lever, and it opens the top of the coconut like a lid. (Other tools are available to salvage all parts of the coconut, like a scooper to get the meat out.)

When we tried it, it took about twenty seconds of mallet hammering to get the Coco Jack deep into the coconut. It required surprisingly little force (and some extra nerve). Once it was in, it was easy to pry the top of the coconut open. The scooper, which you press up against the inside wall of the coconut and twist around the whole circumference, peeled off most of the meat (which kind of looked like a squid…eew!) in one fell swoop.

Note: While Goodman may have solved the ease issue, the process is still extremely loud (and made the Well+Good loft floor shake a little), so maybe refrain from coconut opening while your neighbors in the apartment below are sleeping. —Jamie McKillop

Watch a Coco Jack demo, here:

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