William Liao

October 12, 2021

Kuai Kuai

Last April, BBC wrote about how my favorite Taiwanese snack, Kuai Kuai (乖乖), became a cultural phenomenon.

Kuai Kuai, which translates to “behave” or “good behavior” in both Mandarin and Taiwanese, isn’t just popular for how good it tastes. Packages of the beloved corn snack are also thought to be powerful good luck charms that ensure the proper functioning of any technology they touch.

To this day, bags of Kuai Kuai snacks can be found lying on machinery in “many of the island’s laboratories, banks, and even hospitals”. 

The most intriguing part about this cultural phenomenon is that it wasn’t driven by some ingenious marketing campaign. Instead, the phenomenon that has come to be known as Kuai Kuai culture is said to have been ignited by a graduate student who told his friends about how his computer magically started working shortly after he placed the snack on top of it. 

…and so the movement began.

Does the snack actually have the power to make technology work?

Probably not, but that’s not the point

The point is that a student, equipped with a computer that wasn’t working and a snack called “good behavior” of all things, had all the ingredients he needed to tell a story about how Taiwan’s favorite snack was more than just a snack.

Our lives are built on stories. Every encounter we have with ideas or objects is an invitation to craft a story — sometimes wildly creative ones like the graduate student did with Kuai Kuai — about how much or how little they mean to us. 

If people are paying attention to your work, it’s because they already have a good story. 

As for the market you’re looking to get into? They’re waiting to be told a good story — or at least a better one.