Some say that Kickstarter’s gone downhill.
There’s controversy (should celebs be trading on fame to fund pet projects?). There’s scandal (a would-be dating guide author who advocates for sexual violence). There’s scam (a Kobe beef jerky ripoff funded 50 times over).
You could call it a victim of its own success.
The crowdfunding site for creative projects has only been with us since 2009 but has already funneled $600 million into 44,000 projects. It took nearly three years for a Kickstarter funding campaign to hit the $1 million mark; today you might see multiple projects reach it in a single day. And as a real sign of success Kickstarter parodies are popping everywhere: on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, in the pages of the Onion, on the sketch comedy show Portlandia, and all over the internet.
For all its growing pains it’s still the same old Kickstarter.
The competition is stiffer, the pitches have gotten slicker, but it’s still the funding platform that brought us the world’s largest jockstrap, hand-knitted beards, and grilled cheese Jesus. It continues to be the go-to funding channel for artists and dreamers, and you can find plenty of creativity, ambition, eccentricity, and just plain awesomeness among the food projects that are current vying for your patronage.
I’ve personally never played a food-themed game. They lack the literateness of Scrabble and the gameplay seems far from the addictive pace of Angry Birds, but they’re awfully big on Kickstarter so maybe I’m the exception.
There’s VivaJava: The Coffee Game. Players try to stay one step ahead of the competition as they hunt down the best coffee beans in the world. Each pulse-pounding roll of the dice brings a crucial decision: roast or research? In BEEF: The Game, you’re a cow trying to puzzle your way out of a slaughterhouse without bumping into Meatjoy the butcher. Extra points for rescuing cow companions. Wok Star is a race against the clock in a bustling Chinese restaurant. You have to get past pushy investors, fussy reviewers, and demanding customers while you rush to prep ingredients and stir fry the menu items. The player with the lowest calorie count is the winner for each round of Mealtime Sabotage. But look out because while you’re busy assembling a healthy meal from the recipe cards, your fellow diners are scheming against you, wielding sabotage cards of butter and bacon.
It makes perfect sense that another Kickstarter hopeful seeks funding to open GameHaus Board Game Cafe.
The cookbook category is currently a gloomy little corner of Kickstarter.
If a zombie virus ever contaminates our food supply, and said virus is spread to humans who consume meat and dairy products, we’ll be really glad that the vegan-zombie cookbook Cook & Survive! received its Kickstarter funding. Less of a longshot, but still a title we hope to never need is The Unemployment Cookbook: Abundant Eating on a Frugal Income.
There are sweets to cheer you up.
There’s the cinnamon roll and cookie hybrid known as the Cinnarookie, and The S’mores Campfire Kit which comes packed in a pyramid shaped kindling box that can be upended and lit on fire. Playa Paleteria hopes to bring its popsicle cart to Burning Man this summer, so while they only need $800 for fruit pops, if they can pull in an extra $1,400 they’ll add lights and a kickin’ sound system. And since someone is always going for a record on Kickstarter, there’s a group looking for backers as they attempt the World’s Largest Cup of Boba Tea with a straw that tops out at a height of 12 feet.
A couple of project pitches come from the urban agriculture movement.
The Duluth Grill Parking Lot Orchard has ambitions to shoehorn an orchard in among parked cars without giving up any parking spaces. Farmstead Meatsmith plans to cruise around in a rolling slaughterhouse and butcher shop, Potential backers should know that in the founders’ opinion, “there can be nothing more threatening to the billion dollar industry of meat fabrication than the ten dollar bill freely given in love.”
After popsicles, ‘smores, and zombie cuisine, we could probably benefit from The Skinny Mirror. Clever curving produces a funhouse-like effect that subtly slims your reflection. The maker claims that a peek at The Skinny Mirror (with the affirmation You are beautiful locked inside each frame) when you’re on your way out the door will boost your confidence and improve your self-image. All this and pledges start at just one dollar.