While the tens of thousands of dollars that an Ohio man’s Kickstarter campaign raised to make potato salad seems pretty extreme, his idea certainly wasn’t the strangest to hit the popular crowd funding site. The Observer interviewed some of the people behind the most creative Kickstarter campaigns in New York City.
1. Quantum Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Craig Reuter, 31, a Brooklyn nurse, knows his idea is a bit extreme. But that’s not the point. “My motivation is to be someone else’s inspiration,” Mr. Reuter said in an email to the Observer explaining his plan to bake two pineapple cakes and send them to a nuclear lab in Geneva to turn the particles inside out in an accelerator. Why, you ask, would a renowned research lab put not one, but two cakes in its high-tech machinery? Well, Mr. Reuter isn’t totally sure they will, “But pineapple progress demands I try,” he writes under the “Risks and challenges” section of his campaign page.
He believes that if a wild project like his gets funded, perhaps someone with a life-altering idea who was previously too afraid to share it will take the leap of faith. “With certitude, this campaign is a public service for the greater good of the species,” he insisted in his email.
2. Peanut Butter & Jelly
JM Imbrescia, 32, is bringing back a classic. And while PB&J isn’t a crazy idea in itself, paying $15 for a questionably edible one in the mail is. Mr. Imbrescia promises to send a vacuum-sealed PB&J via snail mail for any backer who donates $15 or more. (He’ll even cut off the crust for the first 50 takers!)
“It will at least be funny-looking,” Mr. Imbrescia explained in a phone interview. He is more interested in people’s responses to the campaign rather than the product.
Still, he doesn’t predict projects like his will take over Kickstarter any time soon.
“It’s not necessarily the direction Kickstarter is going, but the way Kickstarter is broadening what’s on the site,” he said. “…There’s room inside that Kickstarter ecosystem for some zaniness and fun.”
Ever want French toast, pancakes, and a waffle all at the same time? Spencer Hawes, a Brooklyn-based lawyer, promises to remedy that dilemma with the Turducken of breakfast foods if he raises $15 by August 7.
What started as a bet between Mr. Hawes, 29, and his colleague, is now an intriguing project he’s actually tempted to create. The two bet on who could raise more money with their campaigns (loser buys winner Shake Shack). Mr. Hawes’ competition is a “Freedom Cake” that looks like the American flag. He is currently winning with the $8 donated by his girlfriend and a friend of a friend, but suspects his coworker will have a friend donate $9 on the last day.
“The best part has been how angry he’s been,” Mr. Hawes said in a phone interview.
Although he took to Kickstarter for a joke, he appreciates the value of the site for more substantial campaigns, and thinks the site will maintain those sorts of projects in the long run.
“There’s only room for one of those,” Mr. Hawes said, referring to the potato salad campaign. “…All of the copycat jokes are just that.”
Last week, during what was arguably the city’s worst cupcake-related crisis, James McKenna, 29, remained calm. Instead of lamenting the near-death of Crumb’s cupcakes, Mr. McKenna took to Kickstarter to fund his own oversized pastries — “Crambs.”
He noticed his friends complaining on social media over the company’s sudden shutdown, and thought to himself, "when did any of us ever go there?" So he decided to make his own cupcakes which he’d deliver throughout Manhattan if funded.
Still, Mr. McKenna acknowledges that campaigns playing off of the potato salad campaign, including his own, are getting pretty stale. “I am cringing at the thought of how many other "I too would like to make potato salad" kick starters there are,” Mr. McKenna wrote in an email. “It's just not a sustainable concept at all. People mainly want to be part of something unique, once that's dead you're just giving some idiot online free cash."
5. Little Girl Wants to Learn How to Paint
Zach Hoffman, 22, exceeded his $7 goal to buy his 2-year-old niece a painting kit. Sure, he could have gone and bought her one himself, but why spend your own money when you can spend someone else’s? For Mr. Hoffman, it was less about the money and more about the happiness — of his niece and of the backers who were promised a painting for their donation of $3 or more.
“I figured even though you don’t know who this girl is, getting something like this in the mail in my personal opinion truly can make a person happy even if its just for a split second,” Mr. Hoffman wrote in an email to the Observer. He was surprised when a $10 donor denied the personalized reward. “This person in my opinion was euphoric enough to just give the money without anything in return. This is what my campaign is about and I think if you can spread the word, you can bring just the slightest bit of happiness to someone,” he wrote.
(Chip Harlan/ Flickr)