The Strange and Odd Side of Kickstarter

Think you’ve heard it all? Think again.

There is a campaign on Kickstarter that had an original goal of 10 dollars. The reason? To make a bowl of delicious potato salad.

In less than a week, $53, 519 (U.S) had been raised.

You heard me right! The campaigner, Zack (Danger) Brown has raised an almost obscene amount of money for the simple purpose of making an American lunch for himself.

This campaign has gone viral worldwide.

“People tweeting in Japan, we got a comment from someone in Norway… [and] France… there were a lot of tweets from France this morning,” Brown told a local news reporter.

Now a full-fledged Internet phenomenon, “Potato Salad” is one of the top campaigns on Kickstarter with over 15 days left to go. Zack has reached 444,163% of his original goal.

I’d like to say now I’ve seen everything, but we do live in strange times.

What are the rewards and incentives for this fantastic campaign you ask? Well, they include a “potato-salad themed” hat for $25, Zach saying your name out loud as he makes the potato salad for as little as $10, and the ultimate prize for $50.0o, a copy of a recipe book with potato salad recipes inspired by each country a backer is from.


Of course, with this much money on the line there has been a whole pride of copy cats trying to cash in on a few quick bucks as well.

Imitators have been asking for help with chicken and egg salad creations, but none has had close to Zacks success. There has also been a campaign titled, I kid you not, ‘Better Potato Salad.’ Every side dish imaginable is probably being represented at this point, from coleslaw to mac and cheese.

There are even documentary imitators, one such one is a documentary about potato salad’s rise to fame.

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 1.42.41 PM

How is this Happening?

Kickstarter has been used successfully by many legitimate businesses to procure the funds to start a business or give an invention traction. Actually, our very first blog here was about Crowdfunding – you can check it out here for a quick recap.

Kickstarter can also be used to supplement loans that may fall short.

Recently, Zak the Baker raised $31,950 from 419 “backers” for his Wynwood cafe, telling Short Order “I was able to round up a loan, but turning a warehouse into a bakery is an incredibly expensive venture. Just the infrastructure alone took almost all of my money.

This ‘Potato Salad’ campaign comes about a month after Kickstarter relaxed its rules for getting projects posted to the site.

What that means is project managers can now choose to launch their projects immediately (after being reviewed by a Kickstarter algorithm) or request the advice of a Kickstarter community manager.

Previously, a community manager would give all submitted projects a quick review to confirm that it was “a project with a specific, finite goal.”


On Wednesday of last week, the Potato Salad campaign lost nearly $30,000 overnight. On Wednesday evening Zack Brown had more than $70,000 with which to make his salad. On Thursday morning, that number had fallen to $43,984.


So what happened? It’s hard to know — Brown did not immediately respond to a request for comment and didn’t post any comments. One possibility is that people had buyers regret, and started cancelling their pledges.

Kickstarter’s rules discourage, but do not prohibit, people from taking back their donations.

Death and Taxes?

One final note – there is a good chance that Zack will lose a big chunk of his profits. How – taxes.

Since funds raised through the Kickstarter and similar sites are considered income  the Tax Foundation estimates that if the campaign stopped with a total of $70,912, Brown would have to pay about $21,000 in taxes on his hilarious Internet joke. That’s a lot of salad.

Surprise Success

Of course, since the Potato Salad project grew to unantipated levels, Brown had to change his goals for the campain. No longer content with making a simple lunch, Brown now wants to obtain the services of a chef to get a better recipe and make his potato salad with mayonnaise from the natural foods section of the store. Brown also wants to rent out a party hall and “invite the whole internet to the potato salad party” — if, of course, you’ve pledged a minimum $10 to the campaign and can make it to Ohio.

It will be interesting to see what new projects and goals will appear on Kickstarter now that the rules have been relaxed. Food not withstanding, will this make Kickstarter even more of a success, or banish it to the halls of Internet Quirkiness.

Only time will tell.

Now if you will excuse me, I think I will go and eat my lunch. If you would like to donate funds to my sandwich, please tweet me at @pfourdigital



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