Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!

Ready for a little riddle? Sure you are!

I'm going to list seven phrases, three words each. Without looking it up, I want you to tell me what all twenty-one (7 times 3) of these words have in common. There is only one right answer.


Piff! Paff! Puff!

Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!

Pim! Pam! Pum!

Riks! Raks! Poks!

Cric! Crac! Croc!

Pif! Paf! Pof!

Knap! Knetter! Knak!

So what do you think? Any ideas? I'll give you a minute to think it over.

You're giving up? Already?

Wait, let me give you a hint. I left out one of the phrases:

Snap! Crackle! Pop!

Starting to get where I'm going with this?

As it turns out, those phrases are the onomatopoetic sounds RICE KRISPIES cereal produces, according to its marketing in other countries, from Germany to Mexico to Finland.

That's right, in Germany, pour some milk over your RICE KRISPIES and you hear "Knisper! Knasper! Knasper!"

Now, is that what you really hear? Do they really change the recipe to get more Germanic sounding sounds out of them.

No way! RICE KRISPIES are RICE KRISPIES, and they sound like this:

I don't hear any Knaspers! But I guess I don't hear any Snaps! either. Or do I? I'm not even sure what I'm listening to anymore!

This reminds me of Spanish class in high school. We learned about the different sounds barnyard animals make. For some reason, the animals didn't make sounds like "Cock-a-doodle-doo!" and "Naay!" Instead, Spanish-speaking roosters and horses said "Kikiriki!" and "Jiiiii!" Were these different breeds? Did listening to Español spoken by farmers all day have an effect on the animals' vocabulary?

This whole RICE KRISPIES thing makes it clear:

Just like crisped rice snap, crackle, popping here is the same crisped rice snap, crackle, popping everywhere, those animals are making the same damn sounds no matter what any language textbooks say!

In other words, the concepts are often simple, we just find ways to complicate them. I blame the destruction of the Tower of Babel. What? Too soon?

As an essay tutor who also works on resumes, LinkedIn profiles, etc. I often get approached by people, smart, accomplished people who nonetheless have a jumble of words written down, not unlike the phrases above. Random, nonsensical, opaque.

My former client Shanti was one of these people. It was my job to take these Raks! and Pifs! and Knaks! and find the governing principle, the RICE KRISPIES epiphany, the thesis that transforms the jumble into a story. I did find it, then used it to weave a story so compelling that she got accepted into the #1 school in her field!

When listening to this special episode of The Statement Guru Podcast. I want you to think about this:

The difference between her getting in and not boils down to her recognizing a Knasper! for what it is—just noise—and striving for greater meaning in how she comes across on the page. It's pouring milk over cereal. That's it. Why overcomplicate it?



Nived R.

Admissions Essay Coach Who's a Harvard Grad Student/Mensa Member

50+ hours
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