Erin Atwater and David McFate don’t play by the rules. They ignore the saying “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” They eschew notions of making business plans while sober. And they shun traditional hummus flavors.
In 2009, the couple—unsatisfied with store-bought hummus—experimented with their own recipes for fun, and friends and family subsequently encouraged them to sell their concoctions. “It was Saint Patrick’s Day morning in Vegas , and we were joking about being a bunch of drunk monkeys, and [the name] just sort of stuck,” says Atwater, adding that McFate christened her with the nickname “monkey” before that trip. “I am the monkey,” she says with a laugh.
They suspected Drunk Monkey Hummus wouldn’t fly with the public, however, so they opted for Happy Monkey Hummus (HappyMonkeyHummus.com). Once that was settled, they decided they may as well create a business. “I got drunk and filled out the paperwork [to sell at the Downtown Farmers Market], and we got in somehow,” McFate says.
They started out using the kitchen at Keys on Main, where they were both bartenders. They’re now manufacturing in a commercial kitchen in Woods Cross.
Made with natural, local ingredients, their products’ flavors range from standard to adventurous. The zesty, lemony original is hard to beat, as is fire-roasted bell pepper and roasted garlic & tomato. On the wacky side lies Costa Rica-inspired Pura Veda, butternut-squash-flavored Butt Nut, Virgin Mary (Bloody Mary minus vodka) and the first non-vegan recipe, Medi-Medley. There are 15 flavor profiles total—all uniquely delicious. Six are offered at Whole Foods Trolley Square, while the rest are sold at the Downtown Farmers Market.
“Erin is really the driving force behind the uniqueness of the flavors,” McFate says.
“The public is my petri dish. We like doing a little shock factor just for the demographic that we live in,” Atwater says. “He’s Scots-Irish, I’m part Welsh, so it’s obviously not our family recipe.”