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10 Bizarre Food-Related Kickstarters (That Aren't Potato Salad)

Kickstarter
Kickstarter

People will crowdfund anything these days. When Zach Brown wanted to make potato salad—“I haven't decided what kind yet”—he created a Kickstarter to do it. His initial goal was $10, and, depending on their contribution, backers would receive a photo of Brown making the potato salad, a bite of the potato salad, and Brown saying the backer’s name while he made the salad. Currently, the Kickstarter is at more than $70,000; new rewards include t-shirts, hats, a potato-themed haiku written by Brown, and a book, Potato Salads of the World, featuring “recipes inspired by each country where we have a backer.”

Brown wasn’t the first to kickstart a weird quest for food, either: To get a chicken burrito from Chipotle and "graph its deliciousness," Noboru Bitoy asked for $8 from the Internet earlier this year; he ended up taking in $1050, and switched his original mission to determining a chicken burrito's deliciousness ... while skydiving.

The success of these two bizarre food Kickstarters ensure that they won’t be the last (you can already fund someone’s burrito, someone’s mac and cheese, someone’s beet cake, someone’s jello shots, and someone’s chicken soup). Here are a few more weird food-related Kickstarters that you might consider kicking some money to.

1. Pancake in the Mail

"I really like to make pancakes, and I am really darn good at it," Mark Cesal says on this Kickstarter. "I learned to make great pancakes working the breakfast shift at family restaurants. Now I make them at home for my family. I would like to make a pancake for you." Contribute just $3, and Cesal will send you a pancake. Why do this? "I just think it would be cool to get a Pancake in the Mail," he writes. "I will use the contributions to keep making pancakes and stock up for making even more. Maybe even do a block pancake party or something. Food is one of the best ways to bring people together, and this project will be my way to bring all of us a little closer." Here's hoping he actually uses Comic Sans on the packaging.

2. Bacon Sculpture

"Bacon is pretty cool and it's durable and flexible enough to make a sculpture out of, so I wanna do that," Rob Kaufman, who is asking for $30, writes. Potential risks include "burn[ing] bacon by accident in an attempt at getting crispy bacon, but I'll try hard not to do that." Rewards for contributors include a digital photo of the bacon sculpture, plus photos of the sculpture in progress.

3. Take Out Week

Andrew Reynolds is moving, and he doesn't want to buy food he'll just have to throw out when the time comes. Help him pay for takeout, and he'll thank you on his Facebook wall, do a livestream, or invite you over to partake (if you live in the Boston area).

4. Trevor Makes A Wheel Of Cheese

"Using local milk, I'd like to make a wheel of gouda style cheese," Trevor writes. "I want you to be involved and to get some (hopefully! ;) delicious cheese for your face." Rewards include some of the cheese and having your name inscribed on the aging cave door.

5. The Vegemite Project

Daniel E. moved to Australia and fell in love with Vegemite. "I really want to share this enthusiasm I have for Vegemite with people around the world and create a project where we develop the world's greatest recipe for the classic Vegemite sandwich (along with a few other uses for Vegemite) so that I can share it with everyone," he writes. Taste is in the papillae of the beholder, of course, but given how gross many consider Vegemite to be, Daniel probably has a long road ahead of him. 

6. I’m Growing Tomatoes

But: Jonas Burke will only water the tomatoes if you contribute to his campaign. Backers will have their names said aloud as the plants are watered, or have the plants named after them. More generous donors will get to "decide what to name each individual tomato baby" or "get to decide what we do with the fruit of your labors, and will receive video or live stream of what you request."

7. French Toast Pancake Waffle

Kickstarter

Watch out, cronut: If Spencer H. has his way, people will soon be enjoying ToPaWa, French toast wrapped in a pancake wrapped in a Belgian waffle. "Like most people, I enjoy French toast, waffles, and pancakes," Spencer writes. "In fact, I love them. But so often I'm faced with having to choose among them when ordering brunch. I intend to remedy this cruel state of affairs by creating a tasty combination of all three so no breakfast craving need go unsatiated ever again." Pledge $50 or more, and you can go to Spencer's Brooklyn apartment, where he'll make a ToPaWa just for you.  

8. Michelangelo’s Pizza

Cody Dietrich is a big fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and this show inspired this Kickstarter. "I want to make a pizza with ingredients as crazy as Michelangelo's from TNMT!" Cody writes. Potential combinations include tuna fish, peanut butter, and grape jelly; butterscotch, onions, and anchovies; chocolate sprinkles and clam sauce; shredded coconut and sweet pickles; and hot oatmeal (among many more). The toppings will ultimately be determined by the backers. Once he's been funded, Cody says, "I will plan on eating maybe one or two pieces of it, and making my friends eat the rest, LIVE ON YOUTUBE! I may also livestream the whole process of making the pizza up to and after eating it." Best of all, Cody doesn't have any food allergies: "If there needs to be a pizza that has garlic, radishes, peas, shrimp, mustard, and oysters....it can happen and I will eat it!" Also, if he reaches $150, he'll dress up as a TMNT while he eats the pizza.

9. Hot and Cold Kool-Aid

Najee Dowlen is "just a man trying to find out if hot koolaid is better than cold koolaid." Give him some money, and he'll get to the bottom of the mystery.

10. Making Crumpets While Wearing Only Socks

Matt Jacobs is asking for £100,000 to "film an educational documentary on how to make crumpets whilst only wearing socks and discuss the dangers of doing so. Making crumpets whilst only wearing socks has been a huge part of my life. This has given me much joy over the years despite suffering many drawbacks. It would be a pleasure to share my story with you in an educational video about the highs and lows of making crumpets whilst just in your socks."

All images courtesy of iStock unless otherwise noted.

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15 Heartwarming Facts About Mister Rogers
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Though Mister Rogers' Neighborhood premiered 50 years ago, Fred Rogers remains an icon of kindness for the ages. An innovator of children’s television, his salt-of-the-earth demeanor and genuinely gentle nature taught a generation of kids the value of kindness. In celebration of the groundbreaking children's series' 50th anniversary, here are 15 things you might not have known about everyone’s favorite “neighbor.”

1. HE WAS BULLIED AS A CHILD.

According to Benjamin Wagner, who directed the 2010 documentary Mister Rogers & Me—and was, in fact, Rogers’s neighbor on Nantucket—Rogers was overweight and shy as a child, and often taunted by his classmates when he walked home from school. “I used to cry to myself when I was alone,” Rogers said. “And I would cry through my fingers and make up songs on the piano.” It was this experience that led Rogers to want to look below the surface of everyone he met to what he called the “essential invisible” within them.

2. HE WAS AN ORDAINED MINISTER.

Rogers was an ordained minister and, as such, a man of tremendous faith who preached tolerance wherever he went. When Amy Melder, a six-year-old Christian viewer, sent Rogers a drawing she made for him with a letter that promised “he was going to heaven,” Rogers wrote back to his young fan:

“You told me that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. It means a lot to me to know that. And, I appreciated the scripture verse that you sent. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister, and I want you to know that Jesus is important to me, too. I hope that God’s love and peace come through my work on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

3. HE RESPONDED TO ALL HIS FAN MAIL.

Responding to fan mail was part of Rogers’s very regimented daily routine, which began at 5 a.m. with a prayer and included time for studying, writing, making phone calls, swimming, weighing himself, and responding to every fan who had taken the time to reach out to him.

“He respected the kids who wrote [those letters],” Heather Arnet, an assistant on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2005. “He never thought about throwing out a drawing or letter. They were sacred."

According to Arnet, the fan mail he received wasn’t just a bunch of young kids gushing to their idol. Kids would tell Rogers about a pet or family member who died, or other issues with which they were grappling. “No child ever received a form letter from Mister Rogers," Arnet said, noting that he received between 50 and 100 letters per day.

4. ANIMALS LOVED HIM AS MUCH AS PEOPLE DID.

It wasn’t just kids and their parents who loved Mister Rogers. Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who understands 2000 English words and can also converse in American Sign Language, was an avid Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watcher, too. When Rogers visited her, she immediately gave him a hug—and took his shoes off.

5. HE WAS AN ACCOMPLISHED MUSICIAN.

Though Rogers began his education in the Ivy League, at Dartmouth, he transferred to Rollins College following his freshman year in order to pursue a degree in music (he graduated Magna cum laude). In addition to being a talented piano player, he was also a wonderful songwriter and wrote all the songs for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood—plus hundreds more.

6. HIS INTEREST IN TELEVISION WAS BORN OUT OF A DISDAIN FOR THE MEDIUM.

Rogers’s decision to enter into the television world wasn’t out of a passion for the medium—far from it. "When I first saw children's television, I thought it was perfectly horrible," Rogers told Pittsburgh Magazine. "And I thought there was some way of using this fabulous medium to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."

7. KIDS WHO WATCHED MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD RETAINED MORE THAN THOSE WHO WATCHED SESAME STREET.

A Yale study pitted fans of Sesame Street against Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watchers and found that kids who watched Mister Rogers tended to remember more of the story lines, and had a much higher “tolerance of delay,” meaning they were more patient.

8. ROGERS’S MOM KNIT ALL OF HIS SWEATERS.

If watching an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood gives you sweater envy, we’ve got bad news: You’d never be able to find his sweaters in a store. All of those comfy-looking cardigans were knitted by Fred’s mom, Nancy. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Rogers explained how his mother would knit sweaters for all of her loved ones every year as Christmas gifts. “And so until she died, those zippered sweaters I wear on the Neighborhood were all made by my mother,” he explained.

9. HE WAS COLORBLIND.

Those brightly colored sweaters were a trademark of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but the colorblind host might not have always noticed. In a 2003 article, just a few days after his passing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that:

Among the forgotten details about Fred Rogers is that he was so colorblind he could not distinguish between tomato soup and pea soup.

He liked both, but at lunch one day 50 years ago, he asked his television partner Josie Carey to taste it for him and tell him which it was.

Why did he need her to do this, Carey asked him. Rogers liked both, so why not just dip in?

"If it's tomato soup, I'll put sugar in it," he told her.

10. HE WORE SNEAKERS AS A PRODUCTION CONSIDERATION.

According to Wagner, Rogers’s decision to change into sneakers for each episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was about production, not comfort. “His trademark sneakers were born when he found them to be quieter than his dress shoes as he moved about the set,” wrote Wagner.

11. MICHAEL KEATON GOT HIS START ON THE SHOW.

Oscar-nominated actor Michael Keaton's first job was as a stagehand on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, manning Picture, Picture, and appearing as Purple Panda.

12. ROGERS GAVE GEORGE ROMERO HIS FIRST PAYING GIG, TOO.

It's hard to imagine a gentle, soft-spoken, children's education advocate like Rogers sitting down to enjoy a gory, violent zombie movie like Dawn of the Dead, but it actually aligns perfectly with Rogers's brand of thoughtfulness. He checked out the horror flick to show his support for then-up-and-coming filmmaker George Romero, whose first paying job was with everyone's favorite neighbor.

“Fred was the first guy who trusted me enough to hire me to actually shoot film,” Romero said. As a young man just out of college, Romero honed his filmmaking skills making a series of short segments for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, creating a dozen or so titles such as “How Lightbulbs Are Made” and “Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy.” The zombie king, who passed away in 2017, considered the latter his first big production, shot in a working hospital: “I still joke that 'Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy' is the scariest film I’ve ever made. What I really mean is that I was scared sh*tless while I was trying to pull it off.”

13. ROGERS HELPED SAVE PUBLIC TELEVISION.

In 1969, Rogers—who was relatively unknown at the time—went before the Senate to plead for a $20 million grant for public broadcasting, which had been proposed by President Johnson but was in danger of being sliced in half by Richard Nixon. His passionate plea about how television had the potential to turn kids into productive citizens worked; instead of cutting the budget, funding for public TV increased from $9 million to $22 million.

14. HE ALSO SAVED THE VCR.

Years later, Rogers also managed to convince the Supreme Court that using VCRs to record TV shows at home shouldn’t be considered a form of copyright infringement (which was the argument of some in this contentious debate). Rogers argued that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family. Again, he was convincing.

15. ONE OF HIS SWEATERS WAS DONATED TO THE SMITHSONIAN.

In 1984, Rogers donated one of his iconic sweaters to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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Art
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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