The $55K Potato Salad and 5 Other Crowdfunding Campaigns That Somehow Succeeded

Part of the beauty of crowdfunding is that it doesn’t have to promise anything.  It can be as simple as “please give me money” or as complex as “if you donate X then you’ll get to have this, this and a personalized this with access to this once the final phase is complete!”  It’s up to you, the person with the money, to decide what you want to do with it.  Donate to it just to be charitable, donate for a killer perk, or something in between.  And thanks to that format, crowdfunding campaigns that make almost no sense whatsoever have been allowed to achieve lofty heights of awesomeness, even if it seems like they didn’t deserve it.

Potato Salad

Everyone loves potato salad, right?  The answer may be yes, as nearly 7000 people donated a total of $55, 492 to Zack Danger Brown’s Kickstarter campaign to make potato salad.  That was his entire campaign.

The campaign began with the promise Brown would make the salad but he wasn’t sure what kind just yet.  It spiraled out of control from there.  Donors who gave $1 would get a thanks on his website and he’d say their name out loud as he made the salad.  For $2 you’d get all that plus a photo of him making the salad.  $3 would get you a bite of the salad.  $5 you could choose an appropriate ingredient to add to the salad.

As more and more money came in, the campaign expanded to accommodate the interest.  Eventually he was making a much larger salad and inviting people to come and have some at his house.  Later he was going to try more than one recipe and eventually he was on board to produce a cookbook.  And why not, he made $55,000 for potato salad.

Squirrel Census

How much do you like squirrels?  102 people liked them nearly $9000 worth when they helped fund the Inman Park Squirrel census of 2012.  Backers would help take the data already collected about squirrel populations, appearance, favorite foods, religious affiliation and whatever else you can learn about squirrels by walking through a park and looking at them, and turn that info into large, infographic posters.

The posters, which you would get one of for donating $30, would be 38” by 51” and feature info like squirrel population density and squirrel constellations in Atlanta’s Inman park.  Is a squirrel constellation even a thing?  It is now!

There was literally nothing more to this campaign than squirrels, and the odd fact that they’d done all the research first, the campaign was just to afford the posters to print after the fact.  But it did work.  Good for them.

Puking Kitty Saucy Boat

Puking Kitty Saucy Boat: Salsa from Ginger ELA on Vimeo.

You’re on the internet and that means you probably like cats, because everyone on the internet likes cats.  And if you like cats maybe you like cat puke too, or at least gravy.  The connection gets a little hazy at this point, but rest assured enough people loved the idea of a ceramic cat vomiting gravy that it raised a respectable $14,840 to make it a reality.

Traditional gravy boats are basically just warped looking pitchers meant to dump gravy or sauce on your potatoes or roast beef or whatever.  Honestly, they’re depressing and old ladyish.  Your grandma has a gravy boat and it’s probably an antique.  It’s probably worth money to some other old person.  Take it on Antique’s Roadshow someday and find out.  This gravy boat adds cutting edge elements like a feline and vomit to it so it appeals more to gravy-enthusiast millennials who are into that sort of thing.

As of February 26th, 2015 the gravy boats were so successful they completely sold out.  As a one off project, that means one day these vomiting cats may also become valuable antiques on a future edition of Antique’s Roadshow.  Weird, huh?

Sky Writing

Can you crowdfund a joke and if so, exactly how would it work?  The answer to the first part is yes, comedian Kurt Braunohler did just that when he started a Kickstarter campaign based on this simple request – “I’m asking you to donate money so that I can hire a man in a plane to write stupid things with clouds in the sky.”

That one sentence really resonated with people and it worked out like a charm for Braunolher who pulled in $6,820.  So what did he get a man in a plane to write for him?  You may have seen it when it happened, it was a fairly popular news item that day.

The words lasted about 20 minutes before the wind ate that $6800 forever, but it may have been worth it.

Bottle Opener

The key to a really good crowdfunding project that’s also really ridiculous is impracticality.  You need to offer something people they could never actually need.  No one needed that potato salad, no one needed skywriting messages.  And, perhaps, no one has ever needed anything less than the project that somehow made $46,111 – the Stout Bottle Opener.

The Stout Bottle Opener is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a bottle opener.  There’s nothing else to it at all.  You probably have about 4 around your house right now that you’ve never used. 

It’s not that Stout was a bad product, it looks like it was likely a very good bottle opener, and the purpose of designing it was so that it could be an item you never need to replace.  And yet it was a bottle opener.  How often are you opening bottles these days in a way that might require you to have access to a permanently affixed to your wall bottle opener?  The Stout was an answer to a question no one really asked.  But it did make a heck of a lot of money, so hopefully there are just as many bottles being opened all over the country now.

Grilled Cheesus

Ever seen a George Foreman grill?  Picture that, only with grill plates machined to feature a likeness of Jesus.  Now picture making a grilled cheese on that grill, so that when it’s done, Jesus is nicely toasted onto your bread.  That’s what this campaign was for, and it succeeded to the tune of $25,604. 

You can currently buy your own Grilled Cheesus sandwich press for $45 to add a little divine inspiration to any snack or meal you might have.  Also noteworthy is that, on the website they managed to set up to sell their product since their successful campaign, you can also buy Jesus H Spice, a vegetarian spice blend made of Parmesan cheese, fake bacon bits, basil, parsley, garlic, pepper and other spices you can sprinkle on your grilled cheesus sandwich to make it extra divine.  It’s only $9!

The weirdness of the Grilled Cheesus is compounded by the fact is must have certainly been inspired by the various bread presses that already exist that you can use to stamp an image of Jesus or Mary into bread.  They’re been around for a few years with names like “Holy Toast” and such.  Basically you just stamp the bread and toast it and then you have Jesus toast.  Thing is they cost about $10 as opposed to the Grilled Cheesus’ $45.  But, you know, that’s for the discerning shopper who wants to have a Jesus sandwich but wants it at a bargain.