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What is at the root of the Carrot Man’s campus visits?

A man in a carrot costume advertises the Carrot social media app. The Carrot Man has visited UCLA since April. (Myka Fromm/Daily Bruin)

By Mallory Cooper

June 8, 2023 12:53 a.m.

Among Bruin Walk’s flutter of flyers and shuffle of students, one individual has stood out: a giant, smiling carrot known informally to most as the Carrot Man.

Second-year design media arts student Hera Song said she was initially unsure of what the Carrot Man’s board and bucket were for.

“I thought it was for a donation thing,” Song said. “But turns out, no, it’s just free carrots.”

Since April, the Carrot Man has given out carrots to students at locations across campus, including Bruin Walk and pathways to North Campus. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, the Carrot Man has quickly made a name for himself. Those who stop and speak to him are instructed to scan a QR code linked to a social media app, aptly titled Carrot. Carrot founder and CEO James Tashjian said the idea for Carrot stemmed from a desire to provide a space for people to authentically connect with their friends and family through answering question prompts.

However, Tashjian said one of the primary obstacles has been acquiring a stable user base for the app, so he decided to seek out users on UCLA’s campus as the original Carrot Man.

Tashjian said those who take the time to interact with him have positively impacted his time on campus by providing feedback for his app and adding a sense of social engagement. Tashjian added that handing out carrots is not only a way to grab attention but also an opportunity to brighten students’ days.

Fourth-year civil engineering student Justin Sautter said his initial confusion about the Carrot Man’s goals was quickly replaced by appreciation for his dedication. Sautter said watching the Carrot Man advertise on Bruin Walk during a hot day sparked the realization that the man behind the carrot is working hard every time he visits campus.

“I had a lot of respect for him,” Sautter said. “Every time I see him now, I respect the hustle. It makes me happy.”

Sautter said that he looks forward to snagging a carrot from the Carrot Man when they cross paths, adding that he appreciates the Carrot Man’s gesture of gifting fresh vegetables to passersby without asking for any money in return.

Tashjian is also not the only man behind the carrot. After connecting with Tashjian through his roommate and enjoying the app, third-year economics student Giovanni Quintana suited up and joined the Carrot team.

Besides dressing up in the carrot costume, Quintana said he has also worked with Tashjian to make Carrot more user-friendly. Quintana added that he has also facilitated on-campus club collaborations, such as a recent marketing competition with Bruin Entrepreneurs, which he said he hopes will increase Carrot’s popularity among students.

One aspect of the app Quintana said he particularly likes is the daily question prompt, which he said can elicit responses varying from humorous to heartfelt. One prompt asked users what outlandish belief would serve as the basis of their own cult, according to the Carrot app.

Quintana said that, like Tashjian, he has enjoyed being the Carrot Man – the one to two times each week he wears the costume provide unique engagement with the community that could only be experienced while dressed in the costume.

“Time flies when you’re unusual like this, when you’re wearing that suit,” Quintana said. “Everyone’s just coming up to you to say hi, to take a carrot. Everyone’s really nice here.”

Tashjian said he plans to continue visiting campus in costume for the remainder of this year, and that the Carrot Man plans to be back in the fall.

“Come fall, he’ll be back,” Tashjian said. “We’re excited to be there.”

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Mallory Cooper
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