Foss was one of 4,000 geeky inventors who responded to casting calls in seven U.S. cities to audition for this new reality show that follows the format of American Idol—with the cynical, yet lovable, Simon Cowell as executive producer.
For $250, Foss designed what he called a guerilla marketing campaign for his patented device, The WingDipper.
“I was eating chicken wings in a restaurant and the little round plastic cup with blue cheese kept spilling over,” says Foss, who received his undergraduate degree in information technology (’00) and MBA (’01) from Rochester Institute of Technology. “Here I own my own business in Long Island, and we do programming, web applications and database work—and I go out on a limb to design a plastic cup holder where you can easily dip both wings and legs without a mess.”
Knowing Cowell’s judges would be looking for something “over the top,” Foss hatched a plan with his two sibling friends, Mark and Lindsay Webster, who agreed to wear chicken costumes and wave protest signs, “Chickens Hate the WingDipper.” Foss was dressed in a lab coat decorated with chicken wings, carrots and celery.
“We auditioned in New York and the producers loved us,” Foss says. “In the middle of the presentation, Mark let out this cluck and everyone lost it. The woman behind the camera couldn’t keep a straight face.”
In fact, the ABC camera crew took Foss and his “chickens” out into the streets of New York where they ran around, hailed taxis and stopped traffic.
“We made the semi-finals and the three of us went to Los Angeles,” Foss says. “A few weeks later we learned we didn’t make the final cut. But I really think we will be on TV this week because in each of the opening episodes of American Inventor, just like American Idol, they highlight moments from the casting calls. And imagine two six-feet-tall protesting chickens hailing a taxi with a guy in a lab coat.”
Foss says, “You haven’t heard the last of my invention.” He plans to market his WingDipper in Chicago this May during the National Restaurant Association’s trade show.
“My message to all those chicken wing lovers is—watch out, my chickens and I have designed something special just for you!”
Aaron Foss can be reached at 613-664-3624 or www.wingdipper.com