The guy who raised more than $50,000 on Kickstarter to make a bowl of potato salad two years ago has published a memoir/recipe book that, at last, fulfills the final stretch goal of the crowdfunding caper.
Zack "Danger" Brown, with co-author Teresa Blackburn, has finished The Peace, Love & Potato Salad Cookbook, which will be given free to all who pledged $50 or more during the July 2014 Kickstarter, which started as a $10 satire and morphed into one of the most unexpectedly successful campaigns ever. The book, published by Spring House Press, also is available to the general public for $16.95.
"This, I feel, bookends the whole thing," Brown, of Columbus, Ohio, told Polygon. "I'm finally done with fulfilling rewards, two years after the fact."
Brown opened his Kickstarter on the Independence Day weekend of 2014 — a perfect holiday, given the subject matter — seeking $10 to make a bowl of potato salad. The crowdfunding goof quickly went viral, delivering Brown $55,492 when it closed a month later.
Brown added off-the-wall "stretch goals" as the funding gathered steam, including "better mayonnaise" in the recipe, haikus written in donors' honor, signed jars of mayo, and a trucker hat from a custom apparel store.
"While the potato salad Kickstarter was going on, I was at my friend Josh's bachelor party and was drunkenly encouraged to add a cookbook to the reward tiers," Brown told Polygon. "I did it without giving any thought to how much effort would be required to produce a book."
Brown put most of the money toward a free "PotatoStock 2014" festival in Columbus in September that year, and made a large contribution to a civic foundation aiding organizations working to end hunger and homelessness in Ohio. Still, the cookbook promise lingered incomplete, leaving Brown feeling like the dog who caught the car.
"A friend named J. Spinks approached me about a year after the Kickstarter was over and offered his services," Brown said. "He's a creative director and had worked with food stylists and photographers on corporate shoots before. He introduced me to Danielle Atkins and Teresa Blackburn, and the four of us made the book as equal partners."
The lavishly illustrated book reveals the backstory of the Kickstarter prank, starting it all with a Columbus Dispatch article about potato salad that became an in-joke among Brown and his friends. The Kickstarter campaign was an escalation of all that joking, and Brown writes that he expected Kickstarter to step in and put an end to the shenanigans. They didn't. And over July Fourth weekend — "the potato salad Super Bowl" as he calls it in the book — the donations poured in.
Brown and Blackburn's cookbook groups the potato salad recipes into four seasonal genres, beginning with summer and "The Classic Potato Salad." It includes variants such as "Grilled Flank Steak & Potato Salad Tostados," "Blue Cheese Baby Beet Potato Salad," and "Salt-Cooked Fingerling Potato Salad & Garlic Cilantro Mojo."
"I am a VERY average cook," Brown said, throwing credit to Blackburn and his collaborators for the recipe variety.
With the cookbook's publication, Brown, a 33-year-old software engineer, seems happy to get his normal life back. He recently started a new job and was introduced at the company's HR orientation as "the potato salad Kickstarter guy." In the two years since that episode, he founded a startup that uses an app to help safe drivers save money on their car insurance, and was part of a successful $21,000 Kickstarter campaign to create a board game.
"Having the book done will free up time to do stuff like that," Brown said.