Jimmy Edgerton, E06, and Greg Katz, A06

The Mighty Chickpea

In 2011, Tufts friends Jimmy Edgerton, E06, and Greg Katz, A06, took a trip to Prague. Like most vacationers, they talked a lot about food—though their conversation was a lament on how difficult it is to eat a healthy diet in America. Both have worked as personal trainers and have witnessed the struggles of people trying to live healthier lives.

Jimmy Edgerton, E06, and Greg Katz, A06, are starting a snacking revolution

Katz, who is about to become chief resident in internal medicine at NYU Medical Center, took a year off from medical school in 2010 to work on The Dr. Oz Show. “I learned a lot about how tough our food system is for people who are trying to make smart choices,” he says.

He had an idea: chickpeas on the go. “Roasted chickpeas fueled me through med school,” he says. Instead of running to the vending machine for chips or a candy bar, Katz kept the oven in his tiny East Village apartment burning the midnight gas. “It didn’t even have a dial,” he remembers, but Katz knew by sight and smell when his favorite snack, tossed with “olive oil and whatever seasoning was around” was roasted to perfection. The chickpeas were a hit with his friends and colleagues.

An Elegant Simplicity

When Katz caught up with Edgerton on the trip to Europe, he was reminded of his friend’s head for business. A real estate developer, Edgerton is also the founder of Edge Lifestyle Fitness, a personal training and nutrition consultancy. Katz asked him, “Why don’t you sell this snack?”

Edgerton was intrigued. “There’s an elegant simplicity to it,” he says. “And in thinking about future production, chickpeas have a long shelf-life that doesn’t need cold storage. They’re also fairly easy to make and bag.”

In the early days, that simple recipe wasn’t so easy to come by. Katz went back to the kitchen, eventually finding a new apartment with an oven that could tell him the correct temperature. His mom also pitched in. Eventually, Edgerton and Katz rented a commercial testing space. “We made dozens of batches that were totally inedible, burnt, undercooked,” Katz laughs. The best recipe is simple. “It’s just a lot of moving parts. You need to cook it very regularly, stir it frequently, and season it at the right time. If you season too early or too late, it changes the texture. It’s not complicated, but it is precise.”

The company name, 2Armadillos, was born on a brainstorming whim and sales took flight quickly, initially by Edgerton and Katz simply walking into stores to pitch their product. The biggest boost, however, came from a recent win on The TODAY Show’s Start Up to Success series, featuring Marcus Lemonis, star of CNBC’s The Profit, and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises. Lemonis was so impressed by the pair’s venture into a niche market that he offered to invest $100,000 in 2Armadillos—the first six-figure investment offer on live television—and is currently in talks with the pair about a partnership.

Since the win, 2Armadillos has seen a huge upswing in hits to their website and online orders. They’re also expanding the company’s staff every day. “Greg and I both really care about people and changing lives. We want to reach people on a large scale,” says Edgerton, “and that starts with having an exceptional team at home.” They recently hired two fellow Jumbos, Flynn Barclay, A07, and Kate Griffin, F13, and hope to bring more talented alumni into the company.

How to Start a Snacking Default

Edgerton and Katz are ecstatic to have this chance to start a snacking revolution. “We want to change the snacking default,” Katz says. Edgerton adds, “I like the idea of disrupting the standard business system, of being a for-profit company with a very clear public health agenda.” That agenda: sell a heck of a lot of chickpeas to increase access to a nutritious, easy treat. Like most Jumbos, Katz says, “We want to change the world.”

Tufts Alumni are doing incredible things every day: from Sesame Street to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, rural Alaska to Mongolia, the top of the iTunes chart to mission control. Read more stories of incredible alumni now.