Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Behind Frozen Kuhsterd's Voting Surge

The voting for the 2011 San Francisco Street Food Festival Vote Your Vendor Contest has been a pretty hotly contested affair so far. A small pack of vendors have been able to jump out in front of the peloton, including Pinx, Traveling Takoyaki, Maki-ing a Difference Abroad, and Ooh La La Lumpia. But for a brief period of time on July 18th and 19th, everyone was playing chase group to the overall stage leader, Frozen Kuhsterd. With 1172 votes, the frozen custard maker had amassed over three and a half times the votes of Pinx, the second-place entrant. What was behind the meteoric rise of Frozen Kuhsterd, who didn't even appear as one of the original contest participants?

We received a tip from commenter Tif, who called our attention to a pair of posts on Freelancer.com and IT Freelance Jobs. The IT Freelance Jobs post simply links back to the Freelancer.com post, which is for a project created by user niwomb1 from Dublin on July 17.
FACEBOOK VOTES NEEDED have to login to votes in facebook easy...job 
http://www.sfstreetfoodfest.com/vote_for_your_vendor.php. 
Company name is Frozen Kuhsterd. We are near the bottom of the list.
According to the post, the winning bid was by user rony47 in Bangladesh for £20 for a one day job. Soon afterward, the vote count for Frozen Kuhsterd took a dramatic jump, even causing SF Street Food Festival organizers to take notice. "@frozenkuhsterd is killing it! over 1,000 votes on the Vote Your Vendor Contest?," they tweeted.

We obtained a copy of the contest rules from La Cocina, the organizer for the festival. Here they are in their entirety:

Contest rules/details:
1.       The contest will run from July 1st-July 29th
2.       The top four vendors with the most votes will be the winner; winners will be announced at the Media Dinner on July 29th
3.       In order to vote, individuals must have a Facebook account and either be logged in or must click the blue “Login with Facebook to Vote” Button. Simply click the vote but next to the vendor’s name.
4.       Only 1 vote per Facebook account.
According to La Cocina's Azalea Perez Olivares, how the vendors choose to stump for votes is up to them. "No there is nothing in the rules that states that [a vendor cannot contract with a marketing firm], but we *hope* it's not happening," she told us (emphasis in original).

We contacted Jason Angeles, owner of Frozen Kuhsterd, who admitted he was surprised when he learned about the uptick in votes on Monday. "When I caught wind of the situation on Monday, I began to research how the numbers jumped so dramatically in a 24 hour period and did my due diligence to get to the bottom of this," Angeles said. "I was shocked and a bit embarrassed to find out that one of my cousins did in fact take it upon himself to do this without my knowledge."

"To crack the final top 4 and be a part of this contest would be the biggest thing that would’ve happened to my business," the dessert maker, who appeared in part two of our feature on small vendors in the contest, said. "It was probably my pressure on everyone, especially my family to push hard for votes. It was a bad judgment call by one of my relatives and it was in no way my intention to get votes this way."

"I am at this time working to make this situation right," Angeles said. "At this point, I am reaching out to the organizers to explain the situation and to resolve this matter however they choose to."

As of this writing, the vote tally for Frozen Kuhsterd is 172, placing it in sixth place but still in the competition.

Angeles hopes that the public will be able to look past this incident and not let it stain his company's image. "I just hope that this one situation does not diminish our good reputation among my peers, friends, and fans," he said. "Please let my fellow vendors know that I apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused."

Frozen Kuhsterd (@frozenkuhsterd)
San Francisco Street Food Festival (@streetfoodsf)

Angeles' reply also appears in its entirety in the comments section of this article.

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