Kickstarter stuffed with food projects thanks to potato-salad success

One man's quest to crowdfund a potato salad has turned into a tidal wave of food-related Kickstarter campaigns with low funding goals. Bacon cupcakes, anyone?

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
3 min read

Bacon and cupcakes
A Kickstarter for bacon cupcakes has already reached its goal. Melissa W. and Margaret R.

If you browse through the recently launched section of Kickstarter, you'll notice a rather surprising trend from over the weekend: an epidemic of food projects. You'll find bacon cupcakes, pancakes, sandwiches, soup, cups of tea, cookies, fudge, cake, and just plain bacon. None of them have promotional videos and they all have low funding goals ranging from $10 to $50.

Why has Kickstarter suddenly gone food-crazy? It all started on July 3 when Zack Danger Brown launched a project to make a potato salad. His modest $10 funding goal got blasted off the page to the tune of over $11,500 with 25 days to go.

Melissa W. was inspired by the potato salad project to launch her own Kickstarter to fund bacon cupcakes. She's not expecting to reach potato-salad levels of success, however. "I thought it was an interesting idea, to make a low-goal project that has no real impact on anyone, in the grand scheme of things, and to see if people fund it," she tells CNET's Crave.

Melissa W. chose bacon cupcakes for the simple reason that she loves both bacon and cupcakes and thought they would be good together. It took her and her project co-founder Margaret R. all of 45 minutes to put the project together. Backers at the $1 level get a copy of the recipe while $5 pledges earn the recipe, a picture of the cupcakes getting eaten, an original haiku about bacon and cupcakes, and the backer's name spelled out in bacon.

Pancake in a mailer
A $3 pledge will get you a pancake in the post. Mark Cesal

Melissa W. acknowledges how potato salad blazed the trail for the slew of other food projects.

"I think it's a really fun social experiment," she says. "Personally, Margaret and I just want to buy some high-quality bacon for our cupcakes, and it looks like we're going to!" Indeed, the duo topped their $12 funding goal and is up to $16 with 16 days to go.

Also inspired by the potato salad, Mark Cesal launched his Pancake in the Mail Kickstarter to make pancakes and send them out to backers, starting at $3. He won't guarantee freshness or edibility, but it's still a freakin' pancake in the mail.

So why pancakes? "They are the perfect size for a baggy and an envelope," Cesal tells Crave. "I thought that it would be a great gag gift if someone just had this pancake mailed to their friend."

Cesal is all for the explosion of entertaining food projects that have poured onto Kickstarter. "I think it makes a nice change from the technology items or wallets that are common on there," he says. He launched his project after the potato-salad project had only reached $340. Now that potato salad has gone funding-bonkers, he would love if some of that success filtered down to his pancakes. "I would not mind if this grew enough to be a small business where I deliver custom pancakes, kind of like an edible greeting card," he says. So far, he's $9 towards a $25 goal with 13 days left.

Not everyone is enjoying the food-based weirdness. "This has already racked up over $8000 and I can't get anyone to kick in for my album project? Oh, this is simply not fair," writes CNET reader billmusic. Read a response to a Crave tweet by Ben Norris: "Money for some guy to eat potato salad, nothing for the homeless. Typical USA." One Redditor suggested that Kickstarter has now jumped the proverbial shark.

Perhaps this potato-salad-sparked comestibles trend is partly due to Kickstarter lowering its barrier to entry last month, doing away with the site's previously stringent approval process. It took Cesal a few hours to get his project together, though his Amazon Payments authorization added three days before the project could go live. CNET has reached out to Kickstarter for comment on the swarm of food projects and will update if there is a response.

The tide of new foodstuffs seems to be easing a bit and will likely continue to fade out as the Kickstarters fail to replicate Brown's side-dish success, but it might leave some lingering questions about quality control on the crowdfunding site and whether its usefulness is diluted by less-than-serious projects. Ultimately, it looks like it will be up the backers to do the weeding. It just so happens that funders are bullish on potato salad. Just don't expect that food-funding lightning to strike twice.