What Hath the Potato Salad Kickstarter Wrought? Surveying Its Unfunny Imitators.

Slate's Culture Blog
July 15 2014 8:03 AM

What Hath the Potato Salad Kickstarter Wrought? Surveying Its Unfunny Imitators.

potato_salad_40k
The potato salad Kickstarter, in its younger, poorer days.

Screenshot

In the past week, the potato salad Kickstarter—an ironic attempt to crowdfund a recipe that requires almost no funds—has spawned criticism, infographics, and think pieces after raising more than $50,000. Now, virtually every right-thinking person in America is tired of hearing about it.

Except for a few folks who apparently think they, too, can raise tens of thousands of dollars by copying Zack Brown’s formula, which is 1) to promise to execute an extremely simple, inexpensive culinary task and 2) to wait for the cash to start rolling in.

Advertisement

I want to make 3 different kinds of Yakitoris,” writes David Shaw of Newark, California. “My Mum’s secret fudge recipe tastes awesome and I thought I’d make some,” remarks Simon Wadsworth of Greater Manchester, U.K. “We want to make bacon cupcakes, but we ran out of bacon. We need more,” explain Melissa and Margaret of Eugene, Oregon, who set the ambitious fundraising goal of $12.

Given that no one can agree on what the success of the potato salad Kickstarter says about humor, money, and fame in the Internet age, surely there can be no consensus about the meaning of its many imitators. Like the projects that declare, “I was just sitting here thinking how much I would love a cookie,” “I really like hot sauce,” and “I want to see how high I can stack bacon... then I’m going to eat a bunch of it.”

What we all can agree on, though, is that Kickstarter should have shut this meme down back when it had its chance. Kickstarter, having recently loosened its standards for proposals, approved the potato salad campaign, even though its status as a “creative project” was dubious. Now, in the name of fairness, it’s allowing these unfunny copycats—e.g., “Cranberry Glazed Stuffed Pork Chops” and “Get a Pancake in the Mail”—to run their course as well, even though they are clogging up Kickstarter’s food page.

Maybe Kickstarter could hire a humor czar to at least make sure that joke projects meet a standard of originality. Then again, as Adrianne Jeffries of the Verge notes, even the potato salad Kickstarter didn’t meet that standard.

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:58 AM Does this Colorado Poll Show Latino Voters Bailing on the 2014 Election?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Food
Sept. 18 2014 9:34 AM How to Order Chinese Food First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 18 2014 8:53 AM The Other Huxtable Effect Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?