Many Thanks to Menlo Park TechShop

Tech Shop

TechShop’s motto is ‘Build your dreams here’.

Although our standing policy is not to read or follow instructions and to be generally distrustful of mottos, TechShop really is a place to do just that.  Man Crates might not exist, or at least we wouldn’t be where we are today, without the incredible service that TechShop provides to builders, makers, dreamers, and aspiring entrepreneurs across the country. Here’s the freshly installed laser bay at Man Crates headquarters, just completed this week:

Laser Bay at Man Crates
You mean you don’t get to slice stuff up with a laser beam at your job?

Each of these lasers can run up to $30,000.  We won’t bore you with too many company financials, but suffice it to say that’s more than the combined Blue Book value of most of our cars.

Man Crates beaters
The men of Man Crates roll in style. Form a line, gold diggers.

If you’re a brand new company (read: two guys working out of a garage) that can be an impossible amount of cash to front for one piece of machinery. There is no way we could have offered our legendarily awesome, Personalized Laser-Etched Barware  Man Crate, or our distinguished Whiskey Lover’s Sets without the help of TechShop.

Because if you’re just one or two guys with an idea, TechShop provides the lasers. And the table-saws, plastic benders, 3D printers, emotional support and training to help you get up and running, no matter what your idea is. Instead of dropping an ungodly sum to own your own expensive, hard to operate hardware, you can pay a monthly membership fee, schedule time to use the shared equipment, and get all the help you need from TechShop.

TechShop is also and incredible community hub. It was through TechShop that we came to know Insanely Great Products (IGP)- world-class laser specialists and a flagship partner to Man Crates. During the early days when we needed expert help tuning laser settings to get the absolute best possible etch, for months of production support, and especially during all the crazy holiday spikes IGP has had our backs and made our success their mission. Without TechShop, we might never have met Richard Ford and the IGP team.

So, like a baby raptor finally leaving the nest, we’ve finally officially moved our lasers out of TechShop. It seemed like the perfect time to say a huge thank you to everyone at the Menlo Park TechShop– thank you for your hours of help, thanks for your patience and your expertise.  Thanks for helping us build our dreams.

-Team Man Crates

Bachelor Recipes – Ramen Pad Thai

Probably the hardest part about being single and living alone is remembering that you are actually responsible for feeding yourself. Whether it’s forgetting to eat or forgetting to buy groceries, single dudes have it rough. So whenever I run across a great recipe online that doesn’t require excessive shopping/prepping/ cooking/cleaning, I get pretty excited.

Cooking for One- don't mind if I do
Cooking for One- don’t mind if I do

The other day I hit the jackpot. Reddit user IronRectangle shared his version of the poor man’s Pad Thai. I of course tried it first and it may be the greatest inexpensive and quick meal since the McDouble.

The ingredients are simple and cheap. Top Ramen, peanut butter, Sriracha, and three eggs. I picked up a box of 24 packets of ramen for under $5 at my local grocery store and the peanut butter and Sriracha will last ages. As for the eggs, if you buy them in a 6-pack you’ll definitely eat them before they expire.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Boil 2 cups of water
  2. Add the Top Ramen packet. Toss the seasoning, that stuff sucks
  3. Set timer to 3:33 for the noodles because you don’t have time for more than one button.
  4. When the timer goes off, leave the heat on high.
  5. Crack 3 eggs directly into the water, one at a time, stirring them into the noodles.
  6. Finish cooking until eggs look done (1-2 min. max)
  7. Unless you’re a communist who likes soupy ramen, drain the water
  8. Add a large dollop of peanut butter and let it melt on the noodles for a minute.
  9. Mix in peanut butter, and then begin to add Sriracha to taste.

Pad_Thai

You did it! For probably under $.50 you just made a pretty substantial AND relatively nutritious meal! I’ve made it about a dozen times now and I can do the whole process in under five minutes. Even better, total cleanup is a pot, a bowl, and a spoon.

Have a Bachelor Recipe of your own? Share it with us in the comments below!

How It’s Made: Jerky

If men are preparing any food, the best bet is that we’re cooking meat over an open flame. Because that’s how it should be done. But there is another process another process for preparing meat–drying–produces equally delicious results, even if no one gets to fire up their grill. This is Jerky.

By definition, Jerky is lean meat  trimmed of fat, cut into strips, and then dried– to prevent spoilage. Meat forever. Delicious. All Day.

But don’t be fooled, making it can be as complicated as brewing beer or as simple asgrilling a steak. At its core, the process consists of three steps:

  1. Find some lean meat (because fat doesn’t dry and will go rancid)
  2. Add salt, salt, and more salt. Oh and a dash of salt. 
  3. Dry .

However, this seemingly simple process allows for unique complexities at every stage. Some jerky makers prefer to use a less-lean meat for moister jerky, while others will basically dry pure muscle.

The second stage is where most jerky gains its flavor–jerky dryers will add in anything from sugars and spices to beer and chili peppers. This stage is where science, ingenuity, and a good nose come into play, moving jerky from just a salted meat into the realm of a delicious marinated steak. The chemistry and basics behind this process is trial and error and eventually you will uncover your flavor.

Even the drying stage allows for a great variety. Home jerky makers are certainly familiar with a basic food dehydrator, which can produce a quick and easy jerky. However, larger operations tend to use massive drying ovens. Another more traditional method–smoking–preserves it’s flavor best, but is also much more difficult.

No matter how you cut it, we can all agree that jerky deserves a top spot in the hierarchy of manly foods.

If you need inspiration for your Jerky, check out the Slaughterhouse crate… over a pound of the best jerky around. Guaranteed. http://www.mancrates.com/jerkygrams

 

A West Virginia Miracle

Man Crates and TroopSwap send personalized barware crates as prizes
Man Crates and TroopSwap sent prize crates to the Armed Forces Winter Salute

Going Above and Beyond

It was 5:28 PM on Friday, quittin’ time on a cold February day in the hills of West Virginia.  Randy was closing up Glade’s hardware supply when the phone rang one last time- all he had to do was let the machine get it and he’d be on his way into a relaxed weekend. He answers the phone, and an amazing chain of events begins to unfold…

Team Man Crates and TroopId were sponsoring the prize giveaways at the Armed Forces Winter Salute in Snowshoe that weekend.   We’d recently launched our streamlined military discounts page and were psyched to help out with an awesome event for the troops and their families.

wv_glades
Glade’s Hardware and Snowshoe Resort- a good 36 miles away

Somehow our packages got separated during shipping, and that fateful Friday we realized that the troops were going to get their crates without crowbars.  Have you ever tried to open a Man Crate without a crowbar? It’s like trying to tear clamshell plastic packaging with fingers covered in bacon grease. We were in a pickle.

Our first thought was to  overnight a package to the event, but when we told every courier service the West Virginia address we were trying to send the package to they laughed us off

“Saturday delivery? To the top of a mountain in West Virginia?  Sorry, we can’t offer that service.”

Time was running out and in desperation we started cold-calling every hardware store within a hundred miles of the resort thinking maybe we could arrange for a local courier to make a last minute pick-up and delivery on our behalf.

The Call Goes Through

We’d tried a few places with no luck before Randy answered the phone.  He was just closing the register for the day so I quickly explained the situation as best I could, but I must have sounded crazy- it’s not everyday that someone wants to buy out your crowbars and send them to the top of a mountain. Randy patiently waited while I started from the top- “We deliver awesome gifts that you open with a crowbar- yes, it really takes a crowbar- and we need replacements for the troops’ prize giveaway tomorrow.”  By this point it was well past closing time, but Randy took up our cause.

He searched the store for as many crowbars as we needed- scrounging a few different models together to make sure there was one for every crate we’d sent.  He then personally called the event coordinator, a friend of his, and arranged for his son to sacrifice his Friday night and do an immediate delivery up the mountain.

gladesbuilding
We send Randy and Cody some Man Crates swag for saving the day

  Randy refused every offer we could make to pay for the extra service, insisting over and over that:

“That’s just the way we do business around here.”

Thanks to Randy and Cody the The Bull Riding champion, the Wounded Warrior Slalom winner, the Zipline Divebomb champion, and all the others- each had crowbars to open their sweet, sweet victory Man Crate.  We were all reminded of our mission as a customer service team- take up the cause and stop at nothing to get the job done.

Thanks Randy and Cody.

Beers on us if you’re ever out our way.

Awesome New Gift Crates for 2013

One of the best parts of this job is working with our customers and the Man Crates Brain Trust to design new crates.  The internet connects you with all kinds of people, some who have awesome ideas.  Here’s a few of the crates queued up for release in 2013:

Tactical Dad Bag

The best diaper bag a man can get caught carrying.  Literally camouflaged, no one will be able to tell this bag contains a baby operator manual, earplugs, powders, wipes and other infant accouterments.  Ships with the Man Crates fist & crowbar onesie or beanie so you can start training your brood in the essentials of manly living right from the get-go.

The Golfer’s Crate

If there was one thing the people demanded to be heard on in 2012, it was the golfer crate.  No pros ourselves, we’ve been sneaking into private country clubs using plaid and British accents to observe the golfer in his natural habitat.  Several high-speed golf cart chases and many hours on the driving range and community course later, we’re close to announcing the perfect line up of golf essentials for the man that can wield both a crowbar and a 9-iron.

Hot & Spicy Crate

This crate was briefly spotted in early 2012, and a few were ordered.  It was unsuccessful.  We’d delivered a 3-Mile-Island level of spice, a complete failure.  We’ve scoured the earth and HotSauce.com for the most concentrated, lethal dose of Scoville rated pepper sauces, jerky and snacks that we could find.  Hot & Spicy Crate version 2.0 will be like Chernobyl on your gums, like a shock & awe campaign for your tongue, and a seven year plague on your throat and GI tract.  We’re still working with our insurance company to make sure we’re covered sending these, and some items may be considered weaponized liquids ineligible for export.

We’ve got our work cut out for us.  We love hearing when we got things right and when there’s an item that would be perfect in our crates.  So long as your suggestion is not one of the following ALREADY REJECTED ideas leave a comment and let us know what else we should be working on.

Crates which will never be made:

  • The Live Wolverine Crate – this chapter of Man Crates is closed.
  • The Bacon Haters Crate – Please stop emailing us, Cindy.  You’re a hostile vegan and we can’t help you.
  • Get Off My Lawn Crate – functional, but we’re not ready
  • Ninja Repellent Crate
  • Pet Sympathy Crate
  • Dancer’s Man Crate
  • Anything involving spiders

Happy new year and hope 2013 has lots of awesome gifts in store!

Video: Personalized Beer Coasters

Following on the heels of the personalized pint glasses video we posted a few days ago, I wanted to also post this video of how we use LASERS make personalized bamboo beer coasters.  These coasters are part of the personalized pints and coasters crate we launched recently, and it’s even cooler to see our lasers in action on this video.  Check it out!

[vimeo width=”600″ height=”340″]http://vimeo.com/36531492[/vimeo]

Personalized Pint Glasses Video

Have you ever wondered how custom pint glasses get made?  No?  Well we’re going to show you anyways.  We’ve got a ton of new products on the horizon including some totally sweet custom pint glasses, custom wooden coasters and more that’ll blow your mind.

Now, when you order one of our awesome gifts for men, like a custom Man Crate, not only will you get personalized pint glasses and other gear, but we’re also going to show you how it gets made.  I’m not talking “how any old custom pint glass gets made”.  I’m talking how YOUR pint glasses get made.

For each Personalized Pint Glass and Coaster Man Crate you send, the lucky recipient will get a custom link to view the video showing his awesome man gear in full, 100%, glorious HD production.  Just another way we’re different from the ladies selling crappy gift baskets for men.

[vimeo width=”600″ height=”340″]http://vimeo.com/36364107[/vimeo]

How its Made: Daniel’s Pint Glasses.
(Disclaimer: We sped up the video for your viewing pleasure.  Plus, we know you have stuff to do.  Like ordering your own Man Crates.)