Though my usual subscription service purview is unboxing Loot Crates, I’m a fan of other types of boxes as well. Here on ThatVideoGameBlog, we’ve already reviewed a good number of subscription boxes full of Asian snacks. But American geeks can’t get enough of flavors from the other side of the Pacific, so there are plenty more to look at. Today, I’m delving into one called OmNomBox, specifically its offering for June. With so much competition, it’s exciting to see what each one will do to stand out. I can hardly wait, so let’s start going through each of the items included.
The item that stood out most when I opened the box wasn’t actually edible. As a special treat for OmNomBox’s 6-month anniversary, according to the included “Snack Guide,” each June box contains a set of chopsticks with a holder in one of multiple cute designs. I ended up with a pink and yellow rabbit motif, complete with grammatically-questionable “Engrish.” I can’t say that this particular design appeals to me, but there is something to be said about having one’s own set of chopsticks. They’re made of very solid plastic and come in a case to help keep them clean. Though I don’t use chopsticks often, I’m very pleased by this inclusion. One can only handle so many snacks at once, so throwing in a non-food item keeps things interesting, especially when it’s still thematically appropriate.
Chocolate Banana Pocky
If you’re experiencing deja vu, I can explain. This is a brand new flavor of Pocky, and since this particular type of snack is quite popular in America, the new version is finding its way into multiple subscription boxes. For this flavor, the cracker stick itself is chocolate-flavored, and it’s dipped in banana-flavored creme. I’ve always sort of been on the fence about Pocky, and I’m not sure how to feel about this flavor either. The chocolate flavoring of the cracker is barely noticeable, and the artificial banana flavoring is a bit too strong. However, they seem to work pretty well when you put them together. The first bite may offend the tongue if you don’t like artificial banana, but after that it’s actually quite tasty. This is one of the bigger items in the box, as it is a full size package of Pocky.
Like Pocky, Hi-Chew is a staple Japanese snack in the states. With tasty and natural fruit flavors, it’s one of my favorite candies period. This month’s OmNomBox contained two single-piece packages in random flavors; I got strawberry and grape. For those unfamiliar, Hi-Chew is sort of like Starburst, but with a chewier gum-like texture. Its inclusion here is a bit disappointing, only because it’s so easy to find this product locally. But having something comfortable and expected isn’t always such a bad thing. With so many of these subscription boxes focusing on foods that are totally bizarre in this hemisphere, I don’t mind a bit of Hi-Chew.
Strawberry Koala’s March
I grew up with Koala’s March cookies (called Koala Yummies at the time,) and I accept no substitutes. These are thin, crunchy cookies with flavored cream inside, and of all the brands that fit that description, these are the best. Each cookie is even printed with a cute little picture of a koala. Usually the cream is chocolate flavored, but you can also find the included strawberry flavor and white chocolate locally. This is smaller than a normal package, but in turn, there are a lot of different things included here. Much like the Hi-Chew, it’s true that these are easy to find in America, but they’re still a good example of an Asian treat that won’t turn people away. The strawberry version isn’t quite as good as the chocolate, but I still love them.
No, that isn’t a typo; it’s the brand name of the chips in the box. The other possibility was similarly spicy CHILIBEE chips. This is one of the biggest items included, and it presents something of a problem for me: I can’t stand anything spicy. If a food is even slightly spicy, I can’t eat it. So, I had to enlist the help of some friends to review this one. They told me they were quite happy with the chips, and that there is definitely a wasabi taste to them. Unfortunately, that’s about all I can report on these.
Hey Song Sarsaparilla
Sarsaparilla is a soft drink that actually has its roots in the United States. In the 20th century, it became associated with western movies. But while you don’t see much of it in the U.S. nowadays, apparently it has become popular in Asia. This particular brand is from Taiwan, and is included in the OmNomBox as a standard can. Sarsaparilla is very similar to root beer, but there is a notable difference in the taste. It tastes almost like root beer with a bit more of the “root” or maybe even mixed with a tiny bit of something medicinal, but not in a bad way. It’s difficult to describe, but it tastes good. And again, it is nice having something other than food in the box to mix things up.
Kuai Kuai Corn Soup Stick
What we have here is essentially a giant Cheeto in a tube shape, but instead of cheese flavor, it has extra corn flavor. The “Snack Guide” says it’s meant to emulate the taste of the corn potage soup that’s popular in Taiwan. I’ve had this kind of thing before, and every version was disgusting. Fortunately, this one isn’t quite that bad, but it isn’t good either. It really is just a giant corn-flavored Cheeto, and it’s a flavor that really doesn’t appeal to me. I imagine that someone who likes corn potage soup would enjoy it, though, so it’s doing its job well. But while I didn’t have to avoid it like the spicy chips, I did stop after just a couple of bites.
This is pretty much the same thing as the above, except that instead of being infused with extra corn flavor, it’s covered with chocolate. It is a bit smaller, but the box includes two of them. And while the idea of a chocolate-covered corn chip…thing may not sound appealing, these are actually quite good. It feels sort of “wrong” when you eat it, and the flavors don’t come together too well at first, but after the first bite there’s nothing to complain about. I can’t see myself going out of my way to find these, but I also wouldn’t be dismayed to find them in another mystery box.
I-MEI Puff Snacks
Now this is a neat concept for a snack. This is a package about the same size as the bag of chips, and it basically contains a bunch of tiny cream puffs. My box included ones with lemon-flavored cream, but some included a chocolate version instead. The lemon cream tastes great, but I’m not sure the pastry part works as well at this size. It’s less fluffy and more crunchy, but not in a way that appeals to me. Fortunately, there was enough to share, and my friends liked it better. This one is hit or miss, then, but still not a terrible thing to include.
Kameda Age Ichiban
That’s a very big name for a rice cracker. This one is shaped like a dome rather than a tube, and it’s more crunchy than it is crispy. There’s a flavor to it that I can’t exactly put my finger on, but it isn’t bad at all. Again, I don’t think this particular item is really for me, but I can see the appeal. It’s a pretty inoffensive snack, and I imagine most people would enjoy it. Again, it’s something simple and relatively expected to balance out the crazy giant Cheeto tubes. Regardless of how my taste buds feel, I would call this a fine inclusion in this month’s box.
Champion Fried Cookie
In case you’re wondering, no, I’ve never heard of a fried cookie either. Apparently, though, they’re common in China. I fortunately have the peanut-flavored version, though an almond version is available too. It’s harder than I’d expect, but it is definitely a small peanut-flavored cookie, with actual peanuts inside. It’s kind of a weird thing, but I really enjoy both peanuts and cookies. This is one of the most pleasant surprises in the box; it’s something I’m not really familiar with, but it isn’t too weird and it actually tastes quite good. While I wouldn’t take it over Hi-Chew or Koala’s March, its novelty and agreeable taste make it a highlight of the box for me.
Any otaku worth his Pocky knows that Japan has all kinds of Kit Kat flavors you won’t find over here. But apparently, that isn’t the only American snack with some interesting exclusive flavors in Japan. The OmNomBox includes two of these individually-wrapped cookies, and they’re significantly different from your typical Oreo. The cream has a Matcha flavor, meaning it’s meant to taste like green tea. The cookie part is soft, making it pretty much the same as the Oreo Cakesters that Nabisco used to sell in the West. Together, the combination tastes just as you’d expect. The cake-like chocolate cookie is excellent, and it goes well with the cream. The Matcha flavor is subtle, so it tastes a bit different from normal Oreo cream, but is still delicious. These are really tasty, and they make me miss the days of the Oreo Cakesters.
Our final snack is something completely new for me. It appears to be a flat, layered square of pie crust, which has been sweetened with some sort of syrup and then topped with what they call “liquor-filled raisins.” The raisins don’t really seem to have all that much flavor, but that’s fine; the sweetened pie dough is tasty by itself. This is another one of my favorites from the box. The pastry is just lightly sweetened, so it isn’t overwhelming. The raisins make the taste a bit more interesting, but even though they’re on top, they’re basically just garnish. This is definitely a snack that I would happily have again.
Overall, it seems like the contents of this month’s OmNomBox can be split into three categories: expected staples, easy to enjoy new experiences, and more unusual options. And for someone adventurous, that’s exactly what you’d want. This way, even if you don’t like most of the unusual things, there’s enough in the box that you still will enjoy, and it still isn’t boring. You won’t like everything included, but you may discover something new. If you’re just looking for some tasty snacks, though, you might want to consider a different subscription box. Each month is different, of course, but OmNomBox seems to be one that will usually include some items of questionable taste for Americans. To put it more simply, this is probably not a box for picky eaters. If you don’t want to try things that are wholly unfamiliar, look elsewhere. Otherwise, OmNomBox provides the best variety of items ranging from typical to bizarre, and that’s what trying new things is all about. It’s one of the best boxes I’ve ever seen for really representing the variety of snacks available throughout Asia. It’s the full experience, but some may not be ready for it.