It may be a given, but the MCM Buzz team are pretty partial to some of the weirdest and most wonderful food from around the world. We were recently sent the August edition of Japan Crate and was surprised to see the amount of sweets and geeky products within the adorable and cleverly designed ‘Premium’ box.
This is a Japanese candy subscription box that comes in three different sizes and prices. There is the ‘Mini’ box for $12 (roughly £8), which contains 4-6 items; an ‘Original’ box for $25 (roughly £16), which contains 8-10 items and a DIY candy box; and the ‘Premium’ box for $30 (roughly £20), which contains a whopping 10-12 items, a DIY candy kit and a drink.
What’s unique about this subscription box compared to others of its kind is the community that supports it. Japan Crate have a great connection to their niche market and feature many of their subscribers on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Website.
They also have a special package known as the Sugoi Crate in which one lucky subscriber will be randomly chosen to win a box full of giant candies, Japanese gadgets, toys and gaming systems. For August’s Sugoi Crate the winner recieved a WiiU – Super Mario World 3D Deluxe Set, Giant Pocky, Kaminarimon Nanoblock set, Panda Darake Chopsticks game, Totoro Plushie, Popin’ Cookin’ Sushi and Bento DIY Kits, Kumamon Itazura Bank, Mr. Knocky Drum toy, Wasabi – Rum & Raisin – Strawberry Cheesecake Kit Kats, Giant Bag of Galbee chips, Pocky & Peanuts Snoopy Almond Crush, and lastly Mentaiko Umaibo Sticks.
Because the box is coming from the US I recieved an email that said to allow 4 -6 weeks for delivery, but to my surprise it was delivered a mere eight days after it had been posted. The box is your standard subscription box in style, but bright red with their logo on the top. The inside is really cute with different scenery with each box.
Upon opening the box you will be greeted with their information booklet. A lot of time and effort has gone into the 13-page mini magazines. It includes a small 2-page comic, information on the contents of your Japan Crate box, some in-depth information about their featured candy, details about the Sugoi Crate, and a step-by-step tutorial on how to assemble your DIY candy kit.
Near the back of the magazine (which is read in the manga style from the top right to the bottom left) there is a small section which teaches you something cultural about Japan. In this edition it was about the Obon Festival and included some Japanese words at the bottom of the page for subscribers to learn. Finally there are two pages about the Japan Crate community where images and letters are sent in to be featured.
Shuwa Shuwa Soda Candy
Apparently “Shuwa Shuwa” is the sound of the fizz in soda; you have to wait till you get to the centre of the candy before you find out why it has that name. These hard boiled candies are really sweet, full of sugar and seem like your typical British boiled sweet, until you get to the centre and are greeted with a mouthful of fine powdered sherbet which foams as soon as it touches the wetness of your mouth. They come in three flavours, which I determined as Grape, Cola and Strawberry.
Soy Sauce Pretz
Crunchy biscuit sticks with a tangy soy sauce glaze. These are like your normal Pretz stick, flat, crunchy, but with a subtle sweetness to the biscuit. The soy glaze gives a hint of saltiness, but they are completely addictive and very more-ish. I would say these are both sweet and savoury and work well as a snack for someone who isn’t sure what they fancy.
Mario Kart Gum
Put on your diving gloves, buckle up, and grab a few of these bubble gums. Ten individual gums with a “gotta catch em’ all” vibe of having individual characters and karts on each one. For the Mario Kart gamers out there the packaging is really bright and cute. Though what they showcase on the outside isn’t always what’s on the inside. The gum is tangy at first but turns mushy and tasteless within seconds of getting the hard candy into a chewable state – think of chewing paper, that’s exactly what your getting.
Wow! Such Banana?!
A chocolate cream filled marshmallow banana with a hilarious name. This was one of the top items in the box for me. If you like banana flavoured things (milkshakes, cakes, bread), you will LOVE this sweet. It reminds me of the foam bananas you get in the UK, but softer, as it’s made from marshmallow. Yet it has a creamy chocolate centre and a banana flavoured chocolate around the outside of the marshmallow. After letting others have a try, the decision was unanimous that it was one of the better sweets of the package.
Crayon Shin Chan Candy
Crayon coloured ramune flavoured hard candies. Shin-Chan has his own manga and anime (which has been dubbed in over 23 languages) and follows five year old Shin-Chan as he makes mistakes and creates chaos for his parents, school and friends. These sweets remind me of the cheap sweets you get in the 20p gachapon machines, like a boiled sweet, but with a compressed powdered centre. They are fruity but not to my taste. The packaging on the other hand is hilarious and I really like the fact you can pull Shin-Chan’s shorts off.
Soda Mixing Jelly Beans
Five tasty soda flavours in jellybean form; mix and match flavours to create your own soda flavours. Being a bit of a jellybean fanatic I was really excited to try these. Eating them on their own they were really fruity, but the real fun begins when mixing them together. I was devastated when I realised I had finished the packet just minutes after opening it, but can guarantee they are well worth trying if you get the chance.
Japanese BBQ Scones
Like Cheetos but better; the BBQ flavour that gives American flavourings a run for its money. This was a huge packet of Nik-Nak shaped corn chips, covered in a sticky and sweet BBQ sauce which left me craving more. There was a hint of BBQ ribs in the taste and is definitely one of my favourite items from the box.
Fluffy grape cotton candy with an explosive pop rocks kick, a truly unique candy. Please heed my warning, do not put all of this in your mouth due to its luscious smell. Although the taste is really strong and really delicious, eating the candy as a whole means you will endure deafening cracking and popping with the candy hidden inside. It feels as though Japanese popping candy is a thousand times stranger than the ones you get in the US and the UK. Really tasty and a fun experience, especially if you give it to someone unexpectedly.
Crispy pretzel biscuit shells filled with creamy chocolate goodness. If you have tried the Hello Panda chocolate then you’ll have an idea as to what you will be experiencing here, though there is a complete difference with the biscuits used. The chocolate is also different here, a little richer in texture and taste.
Pokémon Puzzle Game
Enjoy some gum whilst you piece this puzzle together. For you Pokémon fans out there this product is possibly a treat, though there is the reappearance of some dreadful bubblegum that tastes like you’re chewing soggy paper. This can be excused with the fact that you get a sticker puzzle game inside as well.
Puzzle & Dragons X Bikkuriman Wafer
Fans of P&D or Bikkuriman will recognise the characters on the cover. Inside is a tasty wafer with collectable playing cards and stickers. There is something about Japanese chocolate that keeps me really happy and the kind here is creamy and really high end, which accompanies the wafer extremely well. The packaging is super cute too.
Creamy Melon Soda
Delicious and creamy soda with a nice melon flavour. While I like my fruit I have never been a big fan of melon, nor a fan of melon flavouring. But things have changed and Japan has proved that should a melon find its way to my mouth, it will be through flavoured cream soda. It’s really light on bubbles, extremely creamy, and reminds me of a fizzy version of the melon milk that is available.
A popular snack that has turned into a DIY kit. Choco-shrooms are one of the Japanese sweets that most westerners are given to introduce them slowly into the world of Japanese candies, and rightly so, they are really tasty. But actually making the items by hand makes it just that little bit more special. Directions are given in English in the booklet and on the back of the box, but I feel it’s pretty simple and self explanatory. The outcomes were really pretty and extremely tasty.
It was very surprising seeing the amount of products and goodies received in the box. I thoroughly enjoyed trying each and every item as it opened my eyes to what’s available from Japan. It’s not all just Hi-Chews and Pocky! With the personal touches of the information booklet as well as the inclusion of anime, manga and game characters within the box, there is something there that will capture your attention.
For the price of the box it is definitely worth it. With its fast delivery, high quality products and an exploration of culture within a monthly subscription box, you couldn’t ask for more.
Thank you to Japan Crate for sending MCM Buzz a box to review.