When Kickstarter launched in 2009, it was billed as the ultimate populist crowdfunding site. If you have an idea, and enough people like it and want to give you their money, Kickstart makes that happen–and it doesn’t matter how crazy that idea is.
Here are 15 Kickstarter projects that might sound totally insane to some of us, but nevertheless got funded. I don’t know what’s scarier, that someone thought of these products, or that a bunch of people liked them enough to buy them.
1. Moby Dick, as told with Emojis
Herman Melville’s towering 1851 epic has been translated into hundreds of languages, but until 2013 it remained unavailable in Emoji form. That all changed when creator Fred Benenson convinced 83 people to give him $3,676. The original book has precisely 206,052 words, so that’s a lot of winking faces and eggplants.
For fun, try reading Emoji Dick without looking at the written text. Is Captain Ahab harpooning a whale, or texting him whale that he’s interested in a 2 a.m. booty call? It’s basically a choose-your-own adventure book now!
2. The Jawrsize
No, that’s not some kind of ergonomic ball gag; it’s the Jawrcize, a workout device that strengthens your face muscles. Put a Jawrcize in your mouth and chew your way to a stronger jaw, no matter how many people laugh at you or ask you not to do that because this is a public library, sir.
And while yes, it looks exactly like a ball gag, it nevertheless raised $16,145. Who’s laughing now? Inventor Brandon Harris, who can laugh for 10 hours straight, because his face muscles are so strong.
3. Academic Essays on My Little Pony
Way back in 2013, Jed A. Blue was an anonymous My Little Pony enthusiast who ran a blog where he would review episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Then, he had an idea: “What if I expanded those reviews into essays where I expand on the show’s many rich, multi-layered themes?”
Flash-forward to 2018: Jed A. Blue is still an anonymous My Little Pony enthusiast, except now he has $1,046.
Or, well, he did, before paying the copy editor and mailing out all the copies.
4. Caffeinated Toothpaste
Like its slogan says, Power Energy Toothpaste “gives you a rush while you brush.” It bills itself as a better alternative to coffee. While coffee takes “30-45 minutes” to kick in, PET is almost instantaneous. And while coffee can make you crash, PET…doesn’t.
Might sound strange, but it raised almost $50,000 on Indiegogo. (Not Kickstarter this time.) So if you want your toothpaste to give you a jolt, Power Energy Toothpaste is your best bet, unless you’re wealthy enough to brush your teeth with pure cocaine.
5. The World’s Largest Jock Strap
This one was less about making money and more about making a statement. Artist Michael Barrett made the gigantic jock strap you see above, all as a way to poke fun at the complications of modern life. As he said on his website: “Knowing the extremes: the biggest, the smallest, the fastest, the most and the least, offers a way of comprehending and digesting an increasingly complex world overloaded with information.”
That’s what motivated 11 people to give him $854 to make the Paul Bunyan-sized athletic supporter a reality. Or maybe they just thought it was hilarious. Best of all, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized the huge jock as the world’s largest, and THEN challenged him to make one ten times bigger.
Who knew the folks at Guinness were such world record enablers?
6. Crystal Bacon Sculptures
Honestly, if it surprises you to learn that someone turns fine crystal into pieces of bacon, you don’t know much about the Internet.
The piece of crystal bacon in creator Greg Kiestow’s hands is just for show, however. The Kickstarter was to fund a line of crystal bacon necklaces and earrings, and he netted almost $3k to do it.
But I like the giant crystal bacon better, and I bet he’d sell you one if you asked him. You could leave it around your house and tell people it’s an award you won on a cooking show, or a very aggressive reminder to make an appointment with your cardiologist.
7. The 5 O’Clock Shadow
It would be one thing if the “5 O’Clock Shadow” were just a novelty beard to wear as a goof, but it’s so much more than that.
OK, technically it’s one more thing than that, because it also keeps your face warm. Sure, plenty of better winter garments do the exact same thing, and do it better, but can any of them instantly transform you into a Brooklyn hipster?
8. A video game about Ron Paul
At first glance, “Iconoclast libertarian congressman” doesn’t seem like a very exciting video game character. But then, neither does “plumber from Italy.” So maybe that’s why a video game designer named Daniel decided to make Ron the star of his very own action sidescroller. The project was never finished, sadly, but did raise over $11k.
You know if Ron Paul finds a gold coin, he keeps 100% of that gold coin, and he doesn’t let Bowser (the government) have any of it.
9. Meat Soap
Look, I don’t know why someone would voluntarily make their hands smell like meat. When my hands smell like meat, it usually means I’ve just eaten a dangerous amount of BBQ. And once I’m done eating that BBQ, I want my hands to smell like soap, because otherwise I’d just be reminded of the horrific misdeeds I committed earlier.
Nevertheless, enough people apparently DO want to walk around smelling like they’ve been handling brisket all day. Forty-two of them, to be exact, and they donated $1,905 for it.
Meat Soap is made with actual meat. Per the Kickstarter description, the company takes animal byproducts that typically get discarded and renders them into soap. Since animal fat can be rendered into soap anyway, it’s not that much of a stretch.
I just feel bad for the dogs.
15. Potato Salad
No, not a fancy new recipe for potato salad. And no, not a humongous amount of potato salad to feed a starving nation. Just one bowl of regular potato salad.
Maybe you heard this story back in 2014 when it first went viral. Zach “Danger” Brown hails from Columbus, Ohio, and four years ago he put potato salad on Kickstarter as a joke. Per his explanation, “Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet.” All he asked for was $10.
But then, thousands of people across the Internet independently decided that it would be really funny if they all gave Brown way, way more than $10. In a joke of their own/a moment of collective insanity, the people of the Internet gave Brown $55,492, which is 75,000 times the target amount.
Best of all, Brown put the money to good use, donating a big chunk of it to feed the hungry.
So maybe none of these ideas were actually crazy. Maybe it’s the human race that’s crazy. Might as well embrace it!