TSMC finds its green chips are highly sought after... the edible ones

Crunchy, tasty, coconut flavoured... and hopefully thicker than a few nanometers

TSMC is known for making advanced semiconductors, but it seems the company is now driving up the price of chips made with tastier materials than traditional silicon.

The world's largest chip contract manufacturer recently detailed its earnings for Q4 of 2023, reporting that revenue was essentially flat, but it was hoping for a better 2024 if the chip market picks up again.

Coinciding with the earnings conference, TSMC also released a limited edition of another kind of chip - coconut-flavored corn puffs made with Taiwan's Guaiguai or Kuai Kuai (乖乖) brand. Demand for this specific edition has been so high that packs have changed hands for as much as NT$500 ($16), according to publication Business Today, compared with NT$25 ($0.80) for a normal pack.

The reason for this rocketing value is due to the special place these snacks hold in local culture. They are said to convey good luck or good fortune, and according to the Taipei Times, placing packs of the chips on or close to machinery is believed to ensure that it will continue to function and won't experience a failure.

People, however, are not stupid – it's only the green packets that work like this, of course.

TSMC is itself a symbol of Taiwanese success, with the company accounting for 58 percent of the entire global semiconductor wafer market in Q3 of last year. So Guaiguai from TSMC must bring especially good fortune, useful for when the chips are down.

According to Business Today, the co-branded "Green Jinshun Guaiguai" snacks are sold in each TSMC factory, but the crunch is that each person is restricted to buying no more than one box containing 12 packs for NT$288 ($9.20).

Unsurprisingly, reports say that some opportunistic sorts have taken to putting these up for sale on the internet, with the markup in price being even higher than the stock price of TSMC. Business Today quoted people as saying "the return on investment is amazing."

But how these chips are made remains a mystery. They can't be produced using a 5nm process, or they would simply be too small. Perhaps they are made by making a 300mm wafer and slicing it up?

We approached ASML, the Dutch manufacturers of chipmaking equipment, and asked if they could shed any light on this matter, but their reply was salty.

Coconut-flavored corn chips would be something of a novelty in the US, where they are usually made from potato. In the UK, of course, chips are best served covered in salt and vinegar, and wrapped in newspaper. ®

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