Kickstarter the place to be for sidedish dreams

Date Published: 
July 11, 2014

I’m beginning to finally wrap my mind around the notion that I am becoming old.

In terms of perspective, I’m not putting myself in the “old” category of dinosaurs, powdered wigs or Bob Bertram. No, no, no. I mean “old” to the extent that I really can’t figure out the allure of modern music, young hot actresses look to be about 12 years old anymore and things that I discover online have indeed already been discovered quite a while ago — leading me to sometimes feel as if I crashed the cool kids’ party and greeted the turned-off faces with my zipper unknowingly down and Ensure residue still clinging to my upper lip.

However, one surprising advantage I’m learning about becoming older is that your “don’t give a good darn” really blossoms. While I used to be somebody who cared deeply about what other people thought of me, I’ve now settled into the gelatinous mess you see today — not caring if I wear black knee-high socks with sandals or if I share something I never knew before that young people have been enjoying for years.

In that vein, let me tell you about a little something I came across online the other day, between watching my fantasy baseball team return to its punching bag form after a brief interlude of competent performance and trying to figure out how to spell “gelatinous.”

My adventure started as I was browsing through headlines on the Reuters news site. A teaser talking about how an Ohio man named Zack Danger Brown raised $50,000 to make potato salad grabbed my attention pretty quickly. According to the story, the man posted on the Kickstarter page, “Basically, I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet.”

Those eloquent words provided him the hope that he could raise $10 through the kindness of others to make a picnic side dish. However, social media caught wind of it, word spread quickly and the man ended up amassing 4,000 supporters, raising about $50,000 as of Tuesday.

“The thing people are responding to is the opportunity to come together around something equal parts absurd and mundane,” Brown wrote on Reddit. “Potato salad isn’t controversial, but it seems to unite us all.”

Are you reading this, Middle East? Think “potato salad.”

In the interests of full disclosure, I do have to say that I was a little aware of Kickstarter before reading this story, but I honestly didn’t know much about it. I’ve seen stories about independent filmmakers raising funds for their projects on the site, and other similar efforts, but I never really cared enough to investigate the site and see what it was. And I certainly didn’t know how popular it was.

Suffice it to say, $50K for potato salad got my attention.

I went to rd.com, one of my favorite catch-all sites online, and found a slideshow on some other unique efforts on Kickstarter. Allow me to share a few.

• The Remee sleep mask is supposed to help people sleep by issuing small light displays that align with the different stages of sleep. While I’m not sure I could sleep with a Pink Floyd laser show taking place in my face, 6,500 people were interested enough to contribute over half a million dollars to its cause.

• Everybody likes a good cat calendar, right? Well, not me, but others certainly do. An effort to publish a calendar featuring cute felines raised more $11,000 from about 500 backers.

• “The Banana King Returns” is an animated short film about the love between a muffin and a banana. He raised the $250 he needed to finish his project, and I couldn’t help but wonder if people were contributing because they believed in his vision, or they just felt a burning desire to see a banana and muffin walk hand-in-hand into the sunset. I belonged to the latter group, but missed my chance to contribute.

On the flip side, buzzfeed.com reported on a few Kickstarter projects that didn’t get the funding needed. Keep in mind, if people don’t hit their stated goals, none of the money gets donated. It only gets transferred to people who satisfy their goals.

• Comedian Henrietta wanted to raise $6,000 for her one-woman show. After tabulating the totals, Henrietta raised exactly $0. This puts a crimp in my idea to raise money so I could travel the world and tell my own story. I guess I don’t need to translate “digress” into Romanian now.

• A person in Pennsylvania wanted to raise $10,000 to publish a monthly environmental newspaper for a year. She secured nine backers for a total of $580. I guess she didn’t know that our publication, Going Green on Delmarva, is satisfying everybody’s needs already.

• “The Erotic Professionals” was somebody’s dream of a short film on an escort service. This individual needed $7,500 to get the project running, but raised $0. Perhaps if the escorts came to your house and made potato salad, this...

But I digress.