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How 2 Engineers Created the Highest-Rated Gag Gift on Amazon

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 15, 2024 3:04 am

How 2 Engineers Created the Highest-Rated Gag Gift on Amazon

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 15, 2024 3:04 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, since the company’s inception in 2005, Liquid Ass has been a popular product amongst pranksters across the world. The two-pack on Amazon currently has an unprecedented 36,000-plus reviews with a 4 1/2-star rating! [BTW: Read the ratings if you want a good laugh.] So who goes about creating such a spray? Well, a teenager, obviously. Here to tell the story are the co-founders of Liquid Assets, Andrew Masters and Allen Wittman (wearing the hat in photo).

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What's up? This is your boy Lil Duval and check out my podcast, Conversations with Unk, on the Black Effect Podcast Network. Each and every Tuesday, Conversations with Unk Podcasts feature casuals and in-depth talk about ebbs and flows of life and the pursuit of happiness. Unlike my work on stage, I tap into a more serious and sensitive side to give life advice and simply offer words of encouragement, yet remind folks to never forget to laugh. Every Tuesday, listen to Conversations with Unk hosted by Lil Duval on the Black Effect Podcast Network, iHeartRadio app, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Go find it now and hit follow. This is our American Stories. And our next story, well, it's a little gross. It's a little silly and involves two young men coming up with a smelly, smelly product that ultimately has been put to use by the US military to actually prepare medics and other types of people involved in operations that would include horrible smells. How did these two guys come up with their smelly product called liquid?

Well, I'm just going to say assets. Well, here's Andrew Masters and Alan Whitman with the story. Alan and I met in an engineering department in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where we were doing electrical for automotive and trucks.

And we're dealing with managers who are not interested in building a good product, but dealing with corporate politics and trying to advance their own careers, never making any decisions that might cost them a career choice. So, you know, Whitman and I are, we both have spines and we're more interested in, you know, building a good product and using logic and not really interested in a bunch of bullshit. And for that reason, we kind of gravitated toward each other and became pretty good friends. And Whitman kept talking about the stuff he had back in high school and had used a great effect that stunk really bad and that he still had a little bit left and he should bring it in. And I guess at this point, Alan should probably back up to, you know, 15 years previous as to the story of the beginning of what became liquid and his experience.

All right. Well, this is Alan and I actually came up with this in high school completely by accident. And everybody asked me, well, how, you know, how did, how did you create it? Well, I can't get into the details, but I can say that my parents had bought me a chemistry set and I was into sort of mixing things together and checking stuff out. And it just happened to me one day that I came across this stuff that was, it just, it just was so nasty. I thought, man, what if I, what if I took this in the school and played around with it a little bit? And so I did that and it was shocking, you know, with, with the reaction of people, when you, when you sprayed in a classroom, when everybody's, you know, going crazy and everybody's saying that the, the restroom actually smells better than the classroom, those kinds of things.

So I had a lot of fun with it there. And then ultimately graduated, went to college, became an electrical engineer and had, I didn't use it all those years. And it wasn't until I got hired into my electrical engineering job where Andrew was, or actually I was there first. He came later, but when he showed up, the the company was, most of the people in there were very disgruntled at the time because we were told basically that we were going to be laid off. Probably we figured it would be about five years that we had left.

And so everybody was pretty upset. So I was telling Andrew and a few other friends that I had this stuff I used in high school that I even cleared out a basketball game one time in high school. And they're just sort of looking at me like, yeah, sure you did, whatever you need to go to the basketball game. Okay.

On the, on the, on the basketball game. So what I ended up doing was, being a buddy of mine and we, we grabbed the, I guess it was an Elmer, an old Elmer's glue bottle. So you know how big those are, right?

That's a pretty nice sized bottle. We filled one of those up. And right before the game started, we went into the, the bathroom in that hallway, the men's bathroom.

And they had those old, I guess the radiator style heaters. And I went in there and I dumped that entire bottle into that radiator and you could hear it sizzling and steaming and I took off. So I went back up in the stands over there in the, in the gym. And we could see through the, the doors into the hallway. And it was about a half an hour later, I looked down and I see somebody walking by with their, with their shirts over there, you know, people with shirts over their faces and they're, they're waving their hands. And I looked at my buddy, I said, Oh man, I said, it must be hitting good. So we went back down there half-time and they had both double doors open on both ends of the hallways. It was snowing outside and that place completely smelled like, and we were just, we were just having a great old time. People trying to figure out what was going on. So I'm telling them about this story.

My, my coworkers, including Andrew and, and I think people had doubts. So I was like, all right, well, I actually had some stuff that was at least 15 years old. That was in a baby food jar that the, the, the lid had actually rusted on.

So I carefully got that off without breaking the jar. And sure enough, the stuff still smelled like, I'm like, all right, you know, game on. So I grabbed a visine bottle, rained the tip of it out and filled that baby up and I took it in and we actually had a, let me, let me, let me go back. We need to back up because, well, I mean, he had, he had shared the smell with us and then it really was shocking.

Just smelling the bottle. Next thing we're walking by where his manager sits, it's a cubicle area and I'm walking ahead of him. Next thing I know, I hear Whitman go, cover me. And I'm like, I'm confused. I turn around and he's got that, he's got that visine in his both hands.

Like he's almost like he's peeing. That's the, that's the vision I had as far as remembering turning around and seeing Whitman putting full pressure on that visine bottle, aiming it right towards Stinson's office. And you know, this was my first experience of liquid outside the bottle, you know, so. And by the way, they, they had set up a large fan, an industrial fan. They were blowing that crap around a 10,000 square foot design center. And that whole place smelled like everybody had their shirts over their faces. And it was, it was shocking.

I remember that it worked well, but it worked really well in the room. So he just had a little bit left in that baby food jar. And I remember because we were running out, you added a little alcohol to it. I mean, really, I don't even know if we did what, two operations? It was, it was probably a few, but the problem was is that once we did it, we had to have more because it was so addicting that we couldn't stop doing it. And then the problem was, is that I couldn't remember exactly how to make more.

We're like, how can you not remember? And he goes, well, I know the basics, but there's some, there's some other, you know, like subtle things. The process, there's a process to making it.

And if you don't have that exactly right, it ain't going to happen. That's all I can say. Yeah. So we were, so we're all jonesing for more operations and you know, trying to get daily updates.

And finally one day, Whitman comes in, he goes, I think it's ready. I think we got it. And we tested it and sure enough. So that set off a, Oh man, how long did we do?

Two months, three months, three, four months. Yeah. Of, of basically strategizing of how to create maximum chaos without drawing too much attention where we would actually get caught.

And so good. So what would happen is that if I went into the bathroom and somebody had plugged up a toilet I'd call in a visual to Andrew, which basically he had some out in his car and then he'd go out in his car and I'd tell him, we've got a visual and you know, stall number three, building one and he'd go get the stuff. And then he'd go ahead and the hell out of it. And so, so we could, it was hard to get in trouble because, you know, there it is, right? There's the, you know, the block toilet and there, you know, of course the, the, the janitor would come in or whatever. He'd be just, you know, losing his mind going, I don't even understand how this is possibly be in there with the plunger trying to get this down while this overwhelming smell, which is really not from the actual problem, you know, it's actually our stuff.

And that started being a fun thing. So, you know, we, we'd have times where I'd call in a visual and he'd, he'd hammer Andrew to hammer it. And we'd come back and they'd have crime scene tape, you know, over the door, like this bathroom is closed. I was walking through the area and of course it's, you know, I'd, it was a day I'd hit a hard and a guy was walking in front of me from another department. And it was obviously he was very disturbed and our buddy Joe was walking out of his cubicle area and he intersected the guy, you know, the, and the guy stopped and looked at Joe and he goes, what is this?

What is that smell? And Joe goes, I don't know, but it seems to happen every Thursday. And he was dead on right. And I, so I went over to Whitman. I went over and went, Hey, Hey, Hey, I said next, next operations on Tuesday.

And you're listening to Andrew Masters and Alan Whitman. When we come back, more of these pranksters, these chemistry set experimenters, these funny guys here on Al American Stories. This show is sponsored by better help.

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That's betterhelp.com slash OAS. There's a lot happening these days, but I have just the thing to get you up to speed on what matters without taking too much of your time. The Seven from The Washington Post is a podcast that gives you the seven most important and interesting stories and we always try to save room for something fun. You get it all in about seven minutes or less. I'm Hannah Jewell. I'll get you caught up with The Seven every weekday, so follow The Seven right now. And we continue with our American stories and the story of a product called liquid.

Well, I'm calling it liquid assets. You use your imagination and it all started again with a couple of teenage boys. Well, just looking to make each other laugh in the end. We're talking about Andrew Masters and Alan Whitman. Let's return to them for the rest of their smelly and kind of funny story. That was three or four months full of fun there, you know, turning a job we really disliked into a fun time. These were actually days that we did not have to set our alarm for because we'd have a specific day that we would go do it. And you always couldn't sleep at night. You basically just got up early and just went into work and then started having fun. And at the end of the day, your ribs would hurt.

You'd laugh so hard at the chaos. Well, laughter is addictive, you know, so the fact that I know I'm going to go into work and just be laughing all day and I'm definitely didn't need alarm on those days. I told, you know, and I always liked doing pranks in college. I had a fair amount of good ones that I did. And oddly enough, one of them was fart spray, which didn't work to my satisfaction.

So I threw it away. But after, you know, several months of all this fun, I was like, this is like the best stuff ever. You know, it's like, look at this, you know, it works good. It stinks really bad.

You get a lot of laughs and then you lay off for a couple of days and people forget about it and you press replay. So I told Whitman, I said, look, I said, this is the best stuff I have ever used. I said, we can sell this. You know, Whitman was like, yeah, probably good, you know. And now one of the problems was we were both looking at getting out of engineering.

I was working on a master's degree in math to get into teaching college math. And Whitman was looking at starting a car wash, his own business. So, you know, so there was distractions. When you know the end is near, you know, you start coming up with ideas.

You try to figure something out because there was nothing else in the town that we were in. So we were all going to have to move one way or another. Something was going to change. So when Andrew came up and decided that we needed to do this, I said, all right, let's just do it. We'll go 50-50 and we'll just see where it goes in parallel with other things that I was doing.

And then he was doing, we just decided we'll just sort of, we'll sort of see how that plays out. And, you know, and it did take quite a long time, a lot longer than we thought, I guess, because there's a lot more to it when you get in, it seems like, well, I'm just putting liquid in a bottle, but then you got to figure out what kind of bottle, what shape of bottle, what, what material is the bottle made out of? What kind of mystery are you going to use?

You know, how many milliliters is it going to put out? You know, where do we get a label? How do we put the label on?

What's the artwork look like? And what's the name? Well, although the name is the funny part. Yeah. The name was probably one of the easiest things we did. You know, it was a big mystery as far as, well, how do you pick a good name?

You know, we're not, you know, I've, I've learned in doing my own, you know, and starting our own business here, I've learned one thing is that if you're a marketer, you, you chain smoke and you have a ponytail, you know, so we don't do either. Yeah. So I can remember walking into the conference room, shutting the door and Whitman was halfway sitting down and he goes, so what are we going to call it? And I said, I don't know. What are you thinking?

And as he's sitting down, he goes, he goes like liquid. And I said, that's it. It's got a ring to it.

Let's just go with it. So we, we went out, we decided that we'd, we'd find all the radio stations in the country that had crazy morning shows. We decided to send them samples with a little note. And there was about four or five of those stations where we did really well, where we would get, we got a surge in sales. But then it would, it would, you know, die off again to practically zero until one day I was reading an article about a guy named, well, he goes by his radio, his name's Bubba, the love sponge. And it was in the local Fort Wayne paper because this guy was his hometown was two counties over. So I was, so I was reading the article about him and I looked up his mailing address and I remember, I remember packing that box. I can still remember it this day cause I put six bottles in there and send it to him and never heard anything from him until all of a sudden Whitman's like, Hey, our webpage is down because we've got something's going on.

We've got so much traffic to shut our webpage down. And it comes to find out that Bubba the love sponge, and I can't remember his real name, but he was actually using it on his show as a punishment for someone who did something stupid. Usually their cell phone would go off while they're on the air. What they would do is if somebody, if somebody screwed up on the air, cell phone went off or did some something else stupid they weren't supposed to do. They went on liquid alert and once they were on liquid alert, if they'd screwed up one more time, then they would take them in the room and you know, in the studio there when they would the hell out of them. And of course this, this was on serious satellite and it comes on right before Howard Stern.

It was on Howard 101 channel. So it went nationwide and these guys did us a real favor by basically, you know, using this probably for three or four months, three or four months, advertising. And I have to thank old Bubba.

He did. He got us on the map because that put us over the top where we actually were making enough that, well, we don't need a day job anymore. It'd be rough, you know, it'd be tight, but we would make it. We spent two years and then we couldn't really get out of just doing an interview and having 20 orders and then it go back to zero within a week. We, we just couldn't get the thing to stick for whatever reason. But once Bubba started talking about it on a daily basis and that started a floor where we actually had something and it, it didn't go away and it started growing slowly.

Yeah. You know, and then I think the next year was when Amazon picked us up and then we didn't definitely need a day job and that worked out great. Cause that's about a few months after that's when we got laid off. I remember telling Whitman, I said, I just can't stop smiling.

I just, I'm like, I just can't stop smiling. You know, when, when Amazon picked us up and we got another boost to the point where I was almost making the same as my engineering salary. Doing a quarter of the work, by the way. Yeah. I guess we can start talking about our customers now. Well, there's some customer stories. Yeah. There's, we can, yeah, there's, there's quite a few customer stories and we've, we've had people that, that actually used it in their bubble juice, like for a, for a wedding, you know, when they blow bubbles, you know, they mix the bubble juice with the liquid and they're blowing bubbles as the bride and groom come down the aisle, you know, with this juice, which I thought that was sort of clever.

People are putting in, putting it in balloons and blowing the balloons up. So when they pop, it smells like this, this is one that was in particular, sort of strange. And this was sort of early on. So we were, we were probably only selling it for maybe a couple of years at that point, this guy calls me up and he wants to order and, okay, that's cool. But it's obvious that he used it before.

And at that point we hadn't, you know, we didn't have tons of customers. So I said, so I just asked him, so it sounds like you've used the product before. He says, oh yeah, yeah, yeah. He goes, I use it. He goes, man. I goes, I need, I need more, but I need it real, real soon here or whatever, you know? And it's like, well, I said, so apparently you had some success with this.

What did you do? And he was sort of hesitant to tell me. And he's like, all right, I'll tell you.

And he starts this story off. He had bought our product and he had it laying around and he was in the process of, of moving to a new, a new city. He had to get his utility set up.

He calls up and it had been like two or three weeks. His wife is complaining that they don't have the power on yet. Well, he's a contractor and he has one of the special keys. He's got a way to get in to the box to turn the power on. So he turns the power on himself. Well, he automatically gets a, the next day, the power company actually shows up.

They see that it's turned off or turned on. And he ends up getting a fine from the power company because he had, he had screwed around with the box and that's illegal. And he's not allowed to do that. So he's like, all right, well, I'm going to pay this bill and I'm pissed off because, you know, they should have done this for me anyways sooner. So he takes, he gets, he writes a check and he coats it with liquid and he sort of lets it dry. So he goes over to what sort of looks like a bank teller set up with that vacuum tube and they, they leave.

So, so they take off. Well, the following day, the police, the police call him up and the, the cop, when he goes into the office, the cops got like an evidence baggie and it's got his check in it. And they're claiming that this, that this bank or went out the bank with this, the co-op or whatever has now shut the entire system down, shut the entire building down. They've got tape all the way around the building or whatever. It looks like a crime scene and they can't open it up because the whole freaking building smells like, and the teller apparently is claiming that she's quitting because she claims that she's handled feces.

You can't make this up. So cops like, well, he goes, here's the deal. He goes, we're going to send this in for analysis. Now it's got feces. You're going to jail. You're in trouble or whatever.

He's like, well, you go ahead and test it all you want. Cause I didn't do that. Ultimately what happened was is that they came back clean. They couldn't do anything about it. And at the end of the day, he said, what, what could I have done?

They would have, you know, got them back. And I said, now I looked, I asked him, I said, well, now, now you're ordering more. And he's like, yeah, cause I got some other business to take care of. I said, all right, we'll send you a couple extra bottles.

Have a good day. You know, and we recommend, you know, it's a prank product. That's not to, to go out there and destroy people. But, every once in a while, I guess that happens. You know, we, we like to say that we make the gun, we don't shoot it. So, you know, at your, at your own risk, I guess.

But, most of the time people are just having fun with it. And God, there's tons of YouTube videos out there. And we started making a few YouTube videos until the YouTubers outdid us. And so now our customers are doing better videos than we could even dream of. So, if you ever go out there, you go out there and look at YouTube and type liquid, you'll see really good stuff out there. Andrew Masters' story, Alan Whitman's story, liquid assets story here on Our American Stories.

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