I’ve sampled a warehouse’s worth of Japanese candy subscription boxes in the past couple of years, the most recent being TokyoTreat. Started by Ayumi Chikamoto, whose stateside-dwelling friends pestered her for years to bring them hard to find treats from her homeland, TokyoTreat earned my highest praise. My belly full of delicious, delectable Japanese snacks and candies, it easily rated five out of five stars. So when I was offered the latest box for review, I jumped at the chance. Now that the sugar high had faded, would Ayumi’s box of treats still taste as sweet?
TokyoTreat offers full-sized candies and snacks shipped you each month straight from the heart of Japan. There are three different subscription options: the 1-pound Small box is $14.99 for 5-7 snacks and candies, the 1.5 pound Regular box is $24.99 for 8-12 snacks and candies (1 DIY kit), and the box reviewed here, the massive 2.5 pound Premium is $34.99 for 13-17 snacks and candies (2 DIY kits and 1 special item). For all of the boxes, shipping is free worldwide and you can cancel anytime.
Meiji Cream and Caramel
These cream caramels are apparently a traditional candy in Japan; the packaging, like the chewy, creamy candies within, has remained unchanged for many years. And why change something that looks so cute and tastes so good? The wrapper was so adorable, my sister tried to eat it. It wasn’t nearly as tasty as the caramel itself, which had a buttery, milky flavor with just a hint of burnt caramel goodness.
Meiji Banana Chocolate
These look just like banana Runts, my most hated flavor of Runts. But the thin shell of banana candy actually hides a cocoa core. It’s a generic tasting chocolate, like an off-brand M&M, but it is smooth and creamy and is a perfect compliment to the botanical berry. I have yet to stumble upon the very rare “ripe banana” flavor – which is infused with orange – but that could be because I am strictly rationing these, only treating myself to one when I really deserve it. And that’s another sentence finished. Treat time!
Meiji GOCHI Gumi Cola
While I love, love, love the ramune version of this gummy candy, I usually don’t like cola flavored candy of any kind as it just tastes to me like flat cola. But this proved to be the one exception. These large gummy discs had a super strong, tart cola taste. And they’re coated in a layer of grain sugar, which leaves a light, sweet aftertaste that compliments the heavy, sharp cola flavor.
Meiji Cotton Soda Gum
The product description card encouraged me to “enjoy a small portion of cotton candy, without feeling bad about [myself] afterwards!” Don’t try to cotton candy shame me, product description card! The only regret I have when I reach the bottom of a bag of cotton candy is that I didn’t buy a second bag of cotton candy. And that I didn’t study abroad when I had the chance. So, I don’t know what the sun looks like rising over Rome. But I do know what it would feel like eating attic insulation thanks to this candy! Despite having the texture of fiberglass, it tasted awesome – sour, citrusy, and just a little bit fizzy. My only complaint is that you have to wait for it to turn into gum so you can spit it out and east some more.
Glico Light Potatoes
There’s something chilling about this box of Pocky-shaped potato sticks, something sinister in the hooded, souless eyes of the tuber that stares out at you from the packaging. “Try this salty snack,” his eyes beckon. “It combines the best of Pocky and Pringles!” But do not be fooled; they are blander than both! They weren’t terrible, but they weren’t wonderful either. And judging by his smirk, that spud damn well knows it.
Fun Christmas Caramel Powder Snow
Tohato’s Caramel Corn is one of my favorite Japanese snacks. Made since 1971, it’s clearly a favorite for Japan natives, too. This special edition Christmas-friendly flavor tasted sweeter, thanks to the dusting of condensed milk. It worked really well with the slightly salty, crunchy corn puffs.
Lotte Star Wars Bikkuriman
Lotte’s Bikkuriman goes too far with the Star Wars theme, with a wafer drier than Tatooine and chocolate denser than a star. But Bikkuriman fans don’t love it for its taste; they love it because it’s dirt cheap and comes with a sweet collectible sticker that
children perfectly well-adjusted adults, thank you very much, can trade and swap to assemble the whole set. This collaboration with Star Wars ups the ante with a sparkly holographic design that even makes Qui-Gon Jinn look cool.
These stickers are the best thing to come out of Episodes I, II and III
Coris Sharitto Puru Gums
The product description card warns that “you will not want to share these with others very easily!” Of course not. They only give you three! But share them I did, much to my regret and my siblings’ delight. These balls of suuuuuper soft gum have a delicious, if dangerous, gummy payload inside. As you chew the yogurt flavored gum, chunks of apple gummy bounce around your mouth and shoot down your throat. The combination of something you’re supposed to swallow with something you’re not supposed to swallow is strange, but the flavor is worth the risk of getting gum lodged in your intestines.
Calbee Hard Fried Potato Ride
These “adult flavor palate” potato chips took me on a ride, alright – a ride to low tide. Is there seaweed in these? I think there’s seaweed in these. No matter whether the “herbs and spices” used to season these thick-cut chip included algae, they seem strongly oriented to the umami-loving Asian market. At least they tasted better than they smelled, which was like fish flakes.
Like a dessert-ified version of Combos, these cylindrical biscuit tubes were packed to the brim with a green tea-flavored filling. The earthy matcha flavor wasn’t overpowering, which really let me appreciate the textures – the crispiness of the biscuit and the creaminess of the filling.
Calling this a DIY kit is a real stretch, no pun intended. You can pull apart these powdery soft candies to mix the flavors, which come in flavors of slightly sweet orange and slightly sour orange. I struggled to put into words what I didn’t like about this candy. Was it the lack of distinction between the sweet and sour notes? Was it the underwhelming mildness of the citrus flavoring? Was it the slightly grainy texture of the marshmallow? My brother was a little more succinct, saying “these suck ass.” Cute packaging though!
Majomajo Neru Neru
The awesomeness of the second DIY kit more than made up for the disappointment of the first. This magical witch’s brew had everything I’ve come to love in a Japanese DIY kit – bags to tear, water to add, powders to mix and, best of all, not a word of English to explain any of it! Following the simple Ikea-esque word pictures, we turned five brightly colored packets of powder into one mushy mess. The color changed from pink to orange to blue to yellow as we stirred our bubbling cauldron, the final result a delicious-tasting marshmallowy mass. Stir in the sugar stars and pop rocks, hold it up to your ear like a sea shell, and it will whisper spoilers for Macbeth!
The beautiful wreckage of a thoroughly enjoyed Japanese DIY kit
Chirin Color Pen Chocolate
The top of this “pen” houses a blue crayon you can write with, while the bottom holds little candy-coated chocolate balls that you can, according to the product description card, enjoy “while at the work place or even in class!”
WARNING: Do not open at work or in class!
As a candy, this fails; the taste of the food dyes that give these candy coated balls their vibrant color is stronger than the taste of the chocolate. As a practical joke, this rules! If you make the mistake of not pouring them directly down your throat, you will find a stern look sends them flying at the speed of sound. This is essentially the candy version of a pipe bomb. Give it to someone who has recently wronged you, then sit back and wait for them to open it during a board meeting or final exam. Revenge has never been so sweet.
This makes for a better demonstration of Newtonian physics than for a candy
The special item in this month’s premium box was an adorable bottle of Snowman Ramune. Despite conveying some serious Christmas feels with its bescarfed snowman packaging, this was the classic flavor – a fizzy, sweet lemon-lime soda. Though ramune is traditionally a summer favorite in Japan, perfect for quenching your thirst on a hot day, it tastes every bit as scrumptious in the winter.
TokyoTreat tasted just as good the second time around. Its premium box is well-branded, fully-packed and – considering the fact that it’s coming to you direct from the heart of Tokyo – the shipping is surprisingly fast. And since they are based in Japan, TokyoTreat promises to procure the hottest and most popular snack trends of the season; they definitely delivered with this box, the two seasonal offerings bringing just the right touch of Christmas cheer. Overall, TokyoTreat is definitely worth the money. You get a great value, a large box brimming with genuine Japanese goodies that – love them or hate them – you will have fun trying.