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REVIEW / Wowbox (November 2015)

 

The snack box craze has really taken off this year and as proof of that, one simply needs to search the Internet to find one service or another that is willing to send to your home a package filled with delectable Japanese snacks.  While most of the companies offering this service don’t really have an effective technique to differentiate themselves from the competition, WOWBOX has devised a system that allows you to choose the theme of your snack box every month.  That’s right, you can choose between three themes, Original Fun & Tasty, Kawaii & Beauty and The Classic, and every month, a new box of Japanese eats will be sent to your door.  WOWBOX will give you a little sneak-peak of what to expect, but most of the box will be a complete surprise once you tear into it!  You will receive sweets and snacks from Tokyo to Kyoto, Hokkaido to Okinawa, hand picked by professionals who have over 30 years of experience in the Japanese culinary world.

 

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Not only does WOWBOX allow you to choose a theme for you monthly mystery snack box, you can also choose a size.  WOWBOX comes in small, medium and large and range in price for one month at $14.99, $24.99 and $34.99 respectively.  Now, depending on the theme of the box, each size will contain a different number of snacks so be sure to choose wisely.  Just for the holidays, WOWBOX is offering a special on their six-month and 12-month subscriptions on medium and large sized boxes.  Medium boxes are going for 20% off 6-month subs ($120 – usually $149.99) and 20% off 12-month subs ($240 – usually $299.88) as well as Large boxes that are going for 25% off 6-month subs ($157 – usually $209.99) and 30% off 12-month subs ($294 – usually $419.44).  Note that if you spring for the Large box, you are guaranteed to receive one Special Item every month.

 

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For this review, WOWBOX sent out to me a Large box that was packed with eighteen delicious Japanese snacks.  The box contained sweet candy treats from gummy snacks to cotton candy as well as salty snacks from potato chips to corn puffs.  There was such an astonishing amount of variety in this box that the price is definitely worth what you will pay to get it.  I had a hard time deciding which snack to choose first so I just followed the handy Snack Guide that comes with every box and worked my way down the list.


 

Mini Peach

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The Mini Peach are small pellets that come jam packed into a small, re-closable plastic tube.  They remind me a lot of Wonka’s Tart-n-Tiny’s candy that I used to eat as a kid, although not as hard to chew.  They pack a very strong peach flavor into their tiny frame with just the right amount of hardness.  These were a delightful treat with a light texture and great flavor.

 

Jyga Shio Butter

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Jyga Shio Butter tastes just like eating a baked potato with tons of butter on it.  Well, almost at least.   The light and crispy wafers of this snack boasts a powerful taste of potato and butter and were very satisfying.  While the butter taste is strong, it is not overwhelming and with just a hint of a salty flavor, this snack was a bit of a hidden gem.  With just three wafers in the bag, my only regret is that there was not more of it to enjoy.

 

Ramune Watagashi

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Anyone who knows me also knows that I am a HUGE fan of cotton candy and any time I am presented with the opportunity to partake in this sweet treat, I jump in with both feet.  Ramune Watagashi is flavored to resemble the taste of the carbonated Japanese soft drink of the same name.  The name is derived from the English word “lemonade” translated into Japanese.  While Ramune is usually flavored like lemonade, it can take on other flavors such as Cherry, Bubble Gum, Cola, Grape or, in the cast of the cotton candy, Blueberry.  This treat was fluffy like a cloud and very sweet, just how I like it.

 

Shuwabo (Change Cola)

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Another very sweet treat in my box was the Shuwabo (Change Cola).  This candy was suprisingly fun to eat and had a great, citrus-y flavor to it.  I describe this candy as fun because of the surprise that is waiting in the center of it.  With an outer shell that is consistent of the texture of a piece of Starburst candy, the Shuwabo sports an inner core that fizzes when it hits your mouth and tastes just like cola.  If I could get these in my neighborhood, I would eat them all the time.  Awesome!

 

Umai Wa (Cheese)

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These delightful little cheese snacks should be in every household in America.  Boasting just the right amount of cheese flavor and a satisfying crunch, this snack is definitely a winner.  They resemble smaller versions of the popular Frito Lay snack Funyuns, and would be perfect to nom on while watching a Nuggets game.  The Umai Wa was not as crunchy as Funyuns but the texture was pleasing, nonetheless.  I got a pretty good sized bag of these but they wont be around long.  If I could get my hands on more of these, they would become a staple on my snack shelf.

 

Caramel Corn

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The Carmel Corn snack was a little odd, to say the least.  While there is no corn in Carmel Corn, there is peanuts.  Go figure.  The caramel puffs were good and had a great, light flavor of caramel.  The peanuts, on the other hand, were not terrible in and of themselves, but the two different textures didn’t impress me that much.  The peanuts seemed out of place and unnecessary.  I wouldn’t have any problems eating the caramel puffs by themselves if they came that way.

 

Saku Saku Panda Z

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While the name of this treat sounds like the title to Japanese anime, Saku Saku Panda Z admittedly sounds very bada$$ and the candy itself lives up to the bold moniker.  These choclate-y treats are formed to look like a cuddly little pandas with real chocolate faces on a base of a crispy, crunchy chocolate cookie.  The chocolate is not too sweet and the cookie has just the right amount of substance to balance out the whole treat.  There were only about ten pieces in the bag so I was through these in no time.

 

Pine Gummy

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I’m not normally a big fan of Pineapple flavored candies, but I have to say that I was pleased with the Pine Gummy treats.  While they were a little difficult to peel them out of the plastic tray, all the effort is definitely worth it.  The gummies were satisfyingly gummy and the pine apple flavor was on point.  Not too strong and not too weak.  My question, however, is why are there only five in the package?

 

Shimi Choco Corn

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I’ll go ahead and say it because I know you are thinking it, yes, Shimi Choco Corn is shaped like a dog biscuit…aaaaaanndd tastes a little like one too.  They are shaped like a star and are kind of a puffed rice consistency.  The chocolate is more bitter than sweet and the corn puff is dry as the Mojave.  The best thing about this treat is that there wasn’t a lot of it.  Who thought that a corn puff dipped in chocolate would taste good?  Bleargh!

Pie No Mi Winter (Apple)

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As you open the package of the Pie No Mi Winter (Apple), you get a strong scent of mom’s homemade apple pie.  The texture of the outer crust is light and flaky and tastes just like an authentic apple pie crust.  The downfall of this snack, however, is the apple pie “filling” in the center of each treat.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what the apple filling was made of but it definitely wasn’t real apple.  The crust was very dry as well so I don’t see anyone actually consuming these without a least two bottles of Ramune to wash them down.

 

Fit’s Gum (Hot Cola)

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The Fit’s Gum (Hot Cola) turned out to be a pleasant experience which is surprising, I know, to say about a chewing gum.  The gum does indeed get hot after about thirty seconds of chewing but its more of a cinnamon hot as opposed to a spicy hot.  The gum is a cola flavor with a hint of lemon and the texture was really soft and not hard to chew at all.  Each piece also is set up so that as you pull one from the package, just enough of the wrapper is covered so that you don’t touch the gum itself with the other end exposed so you can grab it with your teeth.  Very neat idea!

 

Choco Kinako Mochi (Matcha) – DIY Candy

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The Choco Kinako Mochi (Matcha) is the guaranteed DIY Candy that you get every month.  This candy treat, if you can even call it that, comes with a plastic tray to mix all of the ingredients in, a little plastic fork to mix and dip everything with, 9 white mochi (rice cakes), one packet of chocolate cream and one packet of green tea powder.  You have to pour a little water over the white mochi to soften them up then you are supposed to dip them in the chocolate cream and then into the green tea powder.  The problem here is that the white mochi is slimy once you wet it and the chocolate cream doesn’t really stick to it and the green tea powder doesn’t really add anything flavor-wise.  How does it taste, you ask?  Like the old insole of a shoe dipped in chocolate cream and green tea powder, that’s how.  Avoid this one if you should ever come across it.

 

Young Donuts

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I’m hoping that the “Young” in the title Young Donuts refers to their size and not their age as I tear open the package to try these yummy looking treats.  These tiny Cinnamon and sugar covered mini-donuts were very dry but packed a good flavor.  They were kind of oddly mushy and less cake-like as a regular doughnut would be yet firm at the same time, if that makes sense.  They didn’t taste bad but I don’t think this is one that I would ever return to.

 

Suppa Mucho (Sour Cream Onion)

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The Suppa Mucho (Sour Cream Onion) potato chips reminded me a lot of Ruffles.  The potato chip was crispy with the right amount of oily, deep-fried taste and had a very satisfying, appropriately tangy sour cream and onion flavor.  The flavoring was a bit more prominent that what you would find in American snacks of this kind but it was pleasing all the same.  The chips were of a good size and didn’t get all crushed during shipping, either.  Very good!

 

Gokujyo Hiritsu (Mellow Berry)

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This treat tasted as good as it looks.  Gokujyo Hiritsu (Mellow Berry) is a soft,  raspberry creme center with an outer milk chocolate coating sandwiched between two, really soft ‘Nilla Wafers type cookies on the top and bottom.  The raspberry creme is very rich and mixed with the flavor of the chocolate is very overpowering.  That is not a complaint, but instead a praise.  You could probably only eat one of these but one is all you will need.  That there is so much flavor packed into such a small space is phenomenal.

 

Tsunagete Ramune (Grape Plus Soda)

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I don’t actually know why anyone would want to make a chain out of their candy, but OK, I’m in.  Tsunagete Ramune (Grape Plus Soda) starts out with the consistency of a gum but as you chew it, it slowly dissolves leaving a pleasant sweet taste behind.  The pieces come in two different shapes that you can link together to create a candy chain.  This one is fun for all ages and a cool candy treat.

 

Super Mario Gummies (Ramune & Cola)

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It’s not often that Mario of the Super Mario Bros. fame lets me down, but this time he did.  The Super Mario Gummies (Ramune & Cola) come in two flavors, ramune and cola, but looking at the two, you can’t tell which is which until you bite into them.  That’s when bad things start to happen.  The consistency of these supposedly gummy treats is that of an old steel belted radial tire and tastes pretty damn close to one, too.  Ohhhh, say it isn’t so, Mario!

 

Ramune (Special Item)

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Ramune is a very classic and popular Japanese drink that has been around for a long time.  This carbonated, refreshing drink was actually very tasty with a slight lemonade flavor.  It wasn’t too sweet like soft-drinks here in the states but it was still an enjoyable drink.  It has plenty of fizz to keep you coming back for just one more sip and this is one drink that if I could get more of it, I would.  The cool thing is the design of the bottle; it includes a special device that you place over the opening and then screw the lid over so that you don’t lose the carbonation and come back to a flat drink.


Overall, I was very pleased with the offerings in the November WOWBOX.  While the price of this snack subscription service is somewhat higher than Japanese snack boxes that I have reviewed in the past, it is worth every penny simply because of the amount of great snacks that you get.  The cool thing is that you get to choose the size that suits you so if 16 – 18 snacks is too much for you, then just choose a smaller size.  The large box comes packed with so many great treats that I was really surprised when I first opened the box.  WOWBOX will be on to the December snack box by the time you read this but if you can get a subscription, I would say to jump on it.  You will not be disappointed.

 

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