Kickstarter potato salad campaign: Crazy or brilliant?

Potato salad.

Help a guy lose his potato salad making virginity, won't you?

You've heard about that dude who created a Kickstarter potato salad campaign in hopes that he could raise $10. That's right. When Zak Danger Brown start-up entrepreneur of Columbus, Ohio, hit that lofty goal, he said he'd make some potato salad. POTATO SALAD. The guy said he's toss some boiled potatoes together in a tangy dressing if you gave him $10.

He'd like you to know that he's a potato salad making virgin, so "it might not be that good."

That's all fine and well and good.

But you know what? With 24 days remaining in the campaign, the guy has raised more than $65,000. What's worse? When this purely unbelievable campaign hit the media on Monday, the guy had only raised $23,000. He's raked in more than $40,000 in just 24 hours. From more than 4,400 total strangers.

More than 4,400 people have donated an average of just about $15 each to this chump. What. The. Hell.

As Thomas Tusser famously told us in Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie in 1573,

A foole & his money,
be soone at debate:
which after with sorow,
repents him to late.

Or, to put it another way, "a fool and his money are soon parted."

Who are all these people tossing their money at a Kickstarter potato salad campaign? There are a lot of hungry people in this world and I hope that, in addition to tossing money at a stranger for such a ridiculous stunt, they're also giving money to their local food pantries.

Let's be clear, I'm not anti-potato salad. In fact, I'm quite the fan. Just ask my hips. I love some good potato salad.

What's got me all riled up about this campaign is that Kickstarter is a website to fund legitimate and innovative projects, often artists trying to record their first album, create a film, or publish a book, etc. You may be familiar with the recent Veronica Mars Movie. The creation of that movie was funded through Kickstarter.

In my opinion, making potato salad, while technically allowed under the three Kickstarter rules, seems to at least thumb its nose at the spirit of Kickstarter. If the guy had simply raised $10 and ended his campaign, I wouldn't find this abhorrent in anyway. I'd say it's a creative, if silly, use of Kickstarter.

But because Mr. Brown has raised such an excessive amount of money and because he's offered no explanation as to what he's going to do with his money other than throw a party; send out t-shirts, hats, photos, signed jars of mayonnaise, and cookbooks; buy pizza; host a website; and livestream making potato salad, I question the legitimacy of this project. Oh, it's also getting Kickstarter a ton of free publicity because of all the media coverage on CNET, Ohio's ABC6 tv station, Slate, Forbes, and much more.

Even after he pays for and sends out all of the rewards he offers to his generous donors, it seems like Mr. Brown will have a heck of a lot of money left over. What's he going to do with it all? Will he pocket the leftover money? Will he take the money and invest it into his web design start-up? We don't know. He's keeping silent.

Kickstarter says it's perfectly okay to make a profit on projects. And, yes, in general, I'm in favor of making money. I just don't understand excessive profits.

Now, maybe, he is planning on giving the money to charity. Maybe a food bank. But Kickstarter expressly prohibits the creation of campaigns to raise money for charity (Rule #3), so it's possible that's why he's keeping quiet. I hope so. I really hope that at the end of all this on August 2nd, Mr. Brown turns over 100% of the money not needed, to make the four batches of potato salad he's promised and provide all the thank you swag, to a charity that provides food to people in need.

If that's what his plan is, I support this campaign 100% and I will think it's the greatest thing ever. I will applaud the way he skirted the Kickstarter rules to do something for the greater good.

Until then, I'm going to be skeptical and wonder if this whole thing isn't just a cheap way to get a ton of publicity (and money) for his start-up company, which I won't name or link to here.

In other equally awesome news, two other guys have promised to make coleslaw if you give them money. Talk about riding someone's coattails. You can check them out here and here.

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    Jessica Gardner

    A native of Chicago's Northwest Suburbs and resident of the North Shore, Little Merry Sunshine comes by her name honestly. The story goes that as a child, she was always so happy that she even slept with a smile on her face. Her mom nicknamed her Little Merry Sunshine. It stuck, along with her insatiable desire to focus on the good in the world and to leave it a little better than she found it. She does this by sharing her passions and dreams, what inspires her, and maybe you too, and furthering the discussion about how we can listen to our better angels. You can reach her at LittleMerrySunshineCN[at]WowWay[dot]com.

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