Recently, the Internet has done what it does best—flip the fuck out—over a Kickstarter campaign dedicated to making potato salad. What started as a lark with a $10 goal (tagline: “Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet.”) quickly turned into an bizarre online sensation that has raised over $60,000. Why? Because it’s funny, we suppose, and since we’re all eventually going to die meaningless deaths and leave absolutely no lasting mark on the inconceivable vastness that is the cosmos, what’s the harm in giving some dude on the Internet a dollar so he can make potato salad? The German kind is always good.

Milwaukee is certainly no stranger to Kickstarter campaigns, and while none have reached the giddy heights of the potato salad thing, a few have been certified doozies. Milwaukee Record dug into the city’s crowdfunding history and rounded up eight bizarre local Kickstarters, from the delusional to the surprisingly successful.

1. World’s Most Super Amazing 100% Awesome Cat Calendar
Tagline: “Do you enjoy photos of cats dressed up as magical creatures? Do you use a calendar? Yes? Then we have something awesome for you.”
What is it? The fact that potato salad, of all things, is inspiring such irrational Internet-love is a bit surprising; the irrational Internet-love for cats, however, is a self-evident rule of the universe. Back in 2008, Milwaukee photographer Kate Funk created a calendar featuring 12 pictures of her vaguely grumpy cat, AC, dressed in various ridiculous outfits. Since then, the calendar has taken off, selling more than 1,000 copies in 2013. For 2014, Funk and business partner Brennan Groh launched a Kickstarter to print 2,000 copies of the calendar, and to attend the National Stationary Show in New York City, which sounds like a hoot.
Top backer reward: “10 2014 WORLD’S MOST SUPER AMAZING 100% AWESOME CAT CALENDARS. You will get 10 copies of our 2014 calendar.” ($125 or more.)
Successfully funded? Yes. A total of 1,119 feline fans kicked in a purr-fect $25,183, far more than the cat-paign’s initial $3,500 goal.

2. Social Science
Tagline: “Make all your cringeworthy dreams come true.”
What is it? Performers like Sacha Baron Cohen and the Jackass crew have turned confrontational, cringe-inducing comedy into high art, throwing unsuspecting people into uncomfortable situations and watching them squirm. Milwaukee’s Joe Ponto and Katie Red were apparently looking to do something similar with their “Social Science” series, which would find the duo filming each other in awkward, viewer-proposed social situations. “Katie uses pickup lines on dudes” and “Asking people in the ghetto to hold our hand” were two of the proposed ideas. Think of it as Candid Camera for the Riverwest set.
Top backer reward: “Katie will take you on a date in Milwaukee or Chicago. You probably won’t touch much, but you can take plenty of pictures. She will also paint your portrait, if you like.” ($1,000 or more.)
Successfully funded? No.

3. Touchdown Tailgating Kit with Leroy Butler
Tagline: “A pair of velcro gloves and a coozie to keep your hands warm and your drink off the ground. A necessity for cold weather tailgating.”
What is it? Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones; other times, simple ideas are just, well, kind of dumb. Take the Leroy Butler-endorsed “Touchdown Tailgating Kit,” which, as far as we can tell, is just pieces of Velcro stapled to some gloves and a can koozie. Clearly, this was a revolutionary product that needed a celebrity endorser and $25,000 to see the light of day.
Top backer reward: “Meet the inventor of the Lambeau Leap himself, Leroy Butler, at the Official Release Party for The Touchdown Koozie Kit in Milwaukee. Receive one VIP ticket, one signed Touchdown Koozie Kit and get a picture with Leroy Butler. Details TBD.” ($125 or more.)
Successfully funded? No.

4. Haunted Hat
Tagline: “Funding will result in a signature piece for my show Feats of Magic. Tables worth of items will be produced from an empty top hat.”
What is it? The best and/or most infuriating thing about the potato salad Kickstarter is that no real product is being promised. The dude is just making some potato salad. Similarly, Milwaukee magician Nicholas Vollmann seemed to create his “Haunted Hat” Kickstarter for the sole purpose of learning a magic trick. Oh, and raising $1,800. Does it really take nearly two grand to buy some stuff to pull out of a top hat? Is that the going price for silk scarves and foam balls these days? The world will never know, since Vollmann notes the “particular workings of the effect must remain a mystery to my donors.”
Top backer reward: “One custom cut playing card in a commemorative folder. Each playing card is cut from one of the two jokers in a deck.” ($500 or more.)
Successfully funded? No.

5. Just a couple stoop kids with a dream
Tagline: “STOOP KiDS is going to be on We Got Next Vol. 3. The whole concept of this mixtape is to give indie artists a chance to be heard.”
What is it? We’re not familiar with Milwaukee rappers K.C. Jone$ & Wally Benson, but their campaign to get one of their tracks, “Stoop Kids,” featured on a mixtape sounds sketchy at best. The song is fine, but what kind of mixtape—in this case, We Got Next Vol. 3—charges potential artists $100 for a slot on the album? Even “a couple stoop kids with big dreams” should be able to see through this scam.
Top backer reward: “10 hand drawn limited edition artist series USPS sticker slaps.” ($50 or more.)
Successfully funded? No.

6. The Unknown Artists
Tagline: “Helping Milwaukee’s unknown artists get their art out to the public.”
What is it? “Are you part of Milwaukee’s underground art scene? Do you want to be?” Well, according to this Kickstarter campaign, all you need to do is donate $10 or more to something called “The Unknown” and you’re in! You’ll then be invited to a secret show in a secret location, featuring “drinks, music, and local artists.” Oh and “tons of art lovers around Milwaukee,” all of whom apparently also paid to become part of Milwaukee’s underground art scene. Totally legit.
Top backer reward: “PATRON OF THE ARTS: You are a true patron of the arts and are passionate about supporting Milwaukee’s underground art scene.” ($1,000 or more.)
Successfully funded? No.

7. Urban Redneck Life
Tagline: “I am raising funds to purchase and develop sample products that I can use to promote and grow Urban Redneck Life.”
What is it? The creator of the ill-fated “Urban Redneck Life” product line had a bold vision: t-shirts, bumper stickers, and coffee mugs for God-fearing Wisconsinites who longed to live in the solitude of the country, but were forced to spend time in the heathen cesspool that is the City of Milwaukee. “Guys who wear boots, hoodies, and jeans to church instead of dress pants and ties” were Urban Redneck’s non-existent target demographic, and its products were promised to “reflect this life style” and “honor God in all of our business transactions.”
Top backer reward: “An Urban Redneck coffee mug or glass mug.” ($50 or more.)
Successfully funded? No.

8. Adventure Underwear: Merino Briefs With A Waterproof Pocket
Tagline: “Protect your goods with these 100% superfine Australian merino wool underwear featuring two hidden pockets (certified waterproof!)”
What is it? If you’re anything like the creators of Adventure Underwear, you’re constantly backpacking to exotic locales, swimming on exotic beaches with exotic friends, and getting pickpocketed by less-than-exotic locals. Bummer. The solution? Storing the contents of your wallet in your underwear, of course. Two discreet pockets are available to hide your goods near your goods. Even better, one of the pockets is waterproof, ensuring that Adventure Underwear live up to their title of the “highest-quality travel underwear…ever made!”
Top backer reward: “MEXICO ADVENTURE TRIP WITH NIGEL & FRANKLIN: You and a guest get a 6 night, all-expenses paid adventure in Mexico (flight not included). Get yourself to Puerto Vallarta and we’ll take care of everything else. We’ll surf, have wild adventures in the jungle, eat the best Mexican food you’ve ever tasted, go kayaking and snorkeling, and stay in ocean view villas.” ($3,997 or more.)
Successfully funded? Yes. Apparently, the idea of swimming in your underwear and having your debit card handy was a golden one: the campaign raised $32,955.

About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.