The world is big, but the world of snacks? Even bigger. From pole to pole, there are more tasty treats waiting to be sampled than there are people to sample them; it’s a constantly changing constellation, as new snacks flare to life and old ones blink out of existence. I’ve chewed my way through several Japanese snack-scription services as of late, but Japan is just one of 196 countries (sorry China, but Taiwan counts!), leaving the culinary creations of 195 countries still to try. And helping me reach for those candy coated stars is MunchPak.
Launched in late 2013, MunchPak delivers a delectable assortment of candy and snacks from around the world, excluding Antarctica, to your door each month. They offer two “cancel at anytime” subscription sizes; for $21 per month, the Original MunchPak (reviewed here) contains 12+ full size snacks and for $39 per month, each FamilyPak contains 22+ full size snacks. You can also choose a 3, 6 or 12 month plan to save on shipping. At any price, it’s a whole heck of a lot of snacks for the money. But there’s only one criteria of concern to the jet-setting tongue trapped in this land-locked body, and that’s taste.
Chunky White KitKat (Bulgaria)
This king-sized Kit Kat had a thick layer of white crème coating befitting royalty. The white chocolate taste was overpowering, almost sickly sweet, but that didn’t stop me from cramming my face full of it. You can’t go wrong with light, crispy wafers surrounded in rich white crème. Like Henry the VIII before me, I welcome gout, “The Disease of Kings!”
Why is this chocolate-coated wafer candy called a Fifty? Because it’s 50% as good as a Kit Kat. It wasn’t bad per se, it’s just that the chocolate tasted cheap, lacking those rich notes of cocoa you’d expect from a, well, Kit Kat. If I closed my eyes, I felt transported to a dollar store’s “Day After Valentine’s Candy Sale!” It was big, but I would have been happier with a candy bar half the size if the chocolate had more character.
Marshmallow Rice Treats (USA)
This is a Rice Crispie Treat. Excuse me, Rice Crispie Treat TM is a brand name. This is a “marshmallow rice treat.” Though not as good as one made fresh from scratch, it was still tasty, despite having a little but of that artificial, chemical taste typical of pre-packaged crispies. And the alligator on the package is definitely loving it!
Griski Peanut Pretzel Sticks (Croatia)
These were mostly crushed to dust in the journey, but the few remaining samples reminded me of Keebler’s Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, sans the cheese. If they had been pure pretzel, they would have been great; I love pretzel sticks, the skinnier the better, and these were super slim with just a touch of salt. But the peanut-flavored filling, a dark brown paste the width of a pencil lead, turned this into the snack that would have me falsely claiming a peanut allergy if someone broke them out at a party.
Bebeto Peach Rings (USA)
These tasty little gummy rings packed a peach-flavored punch. The sugar sanding gave them a really nice texture, giving way to a juicy, chewy gummy with the consistency of a gummy worm. My only complaint is that there weren’t more of them, as these rings of peachy perfection were absolutely delicious.
Texas Tito’s Big Fat Juicy Pickle (USA)
“Seriously, don’t eat that,” my sister begged. “Just say it tasted like pickle and move on to the next thing!” But my journalistic taste-testing integrity would not allow this, and so I took a bite of the worst pickle on god’s green earth. Speaking of green, this pickle was neither green enough nor firm enough, but definitely juicy enough. I was surprised there was no liquid in the bag, but that’s because this desiccated cucumber husk had absorbed ever drop of moisture. There was absolutely no crunch – not even the faint memory of a satisfying snap – just my pearly whites slowly sinking in until they met each other with a soft squish. This had the spongy consistency of a sea cucumber, and the briny taste of the ocean deep.
Gandour Dabke (Lebanon)
Yum! They smell like delicious little lemon cookies. Double yum! They taste like delicious little lemon cookies. Which is a good thing, because they somehow managed to cram six of them into this package, making it the Tardis of lemon flavoured biscuit packages. The filling isn’t too sweet, and they have just the right ratio of crunchy cookie to creamy filling.
Teashop Ma’amoul (Lebanon)
This looked like a round, super sized Fig Newton, but when I bit into it I discovered a shortbread cookie much lighter and crumblier, with a subtle buttery flavor. And the filling, made from the “finest Saudi dates,” tasted absolutely decadent. This is the best date cookie I’ve ever had. Maybe the best date. That’s kinda sad. Excuse me, I think I’m going to have a good cry while I finish the other half of this cookie.
Sunfat Hello Bear Chocolate Flavor Biscuits (USA)
Just like Hello Panda, their Japanese inspiration, these crunchy little baked cookies had a smooth, creamy chocolate-flavored filling. But how they taste (which is good) ranks a far second to how they look (which is awesome). Each cookie has a koala bear busting out some serious dance moves printed on it; there were no less than nine different poses in this bag. Nine different koala bears shaking their groove thing to music only they can hear!
Antonelli Croissant (Italy)
Though every time someone bites into one of these a French pâtissier sheds a tear, this actually wasn’t bad for a bagged croissant. Filled with chocolate and milk cream, it tasted like your typical vending machine pastry product, maybe a little better. I did eat a vending machine hamburger once, so my judgment is questionable.
Dorina Kolumbo (Croatia)
Heaven must be missing a candy bar. This Croatian version of a Toblerone has it all – crunchy chunks of hazelnuts and chewy drops of honey encased in creamy, melt-in-your mouth milk chocolate. Would I eat it again? An emphatic yes. Would I share it again? And even more emphatic no. Sorry sister, but get your own!
Cadbury Chomp (England)
The chocolate on this wafer thin candy bar is really just there to protect your fingers from the sticky caramel contained within long enough for you to get it in your mouth, where the real fun starts. I adore caramel, and so adored this candy bar. The caramel had the perfect consistency, thick and chewy and absolutely delicious, complimented by that meltaway layer of creamy Cadbury milk chocolate. The only thing that could have made this better is if it had come in the Australian packaging, which features a skateboard-riding, hat-wearing T-rex named Tyrone.
Bocadin Chocolate (Mexico)
I enjoyed the wafer part of this chocolate covered wafer candy. It was delicate without being mushy. But the chocolate part? It was boring and bland. Despite the wrapper’s claims that this is a “peanut filled wafer with chocolate flavor,” there wasn’t much cocoa or peanut on the palette. If you’re looking for a true taste of Mexican chocolate – which is truly badass, considering the ancient Aztecs could really pound back some “bitter water” – this is not the candy for you.
Their website copy claims that “the average person can not eat an entire MunchPak in one sitting.” And though I’m above-average according to my mommy, an opinion she assures me is totally unbiased, it took three sittings and a little bit of standing to polish off this box. I was impressed by the value and the variety; you really do get a globe-spanning selection of snacks, which individually purchased and shipped would cost a lot more than a single MunchPak box. And that’s only if you could get them beyond the borders of their respective countries.
Despite it’s awesome cost to content ratio, there are a couple of areas MunchPak could improve to elevate their snack game from “good” to “great,” namely their presentation and quality control. I didn’t mind that MunchPak wasn’t dressed up; the plain carbboard box didn’t need any more padding than the Japanese-language newspaper page that came crumpled on top, because it was stuffed to bursting with snacks. My complaint is with the way they identify the treats within; rather than a list of the snacks, they included a “What’s Inside?” card whose QR code takes you to page where you can supposedly identify that month’s bounty, learning more about each snack and its country of origin. Unfortunately, more than half the snacks weren’t in the system. How am I to sate my new found addiction to Lebanese cookies if I don’t know they’re from Lebanon? My other complaint was with the quality, and yes I am talking about you Texas Tito’s Big Fat Juicy Oh-God-What’s-Wrong-With-This-Pickle? There’s a difference between not enjoying a snack because it’s different – a horizon-expanding bit of culinary culture clash – and not enjoying a snack because it’s disgusting no matter where you’re standing on this flying rock.
Thankfully, unlike apples, one bad pickle doesn’t spoil the bunch. Overall, MunchPak is a good way to get a taste of different countries in a single subscription service. You get a lot of snacks from a lot of places! And although they choose what goes in each box, they do offer the option to customize your MunchPak by selecting preffered and non-preffered snack types for an additional monthly cost, meaning you can maybe avoid pickled products in the future. But even if you don’t enjoy everything you get, you’re sure to find something deliciously, delightfully new in every box.
Taste the world!
With its sleekly designed website, responsive customer service, and of course wide variety of international snacks and candies delivered monthly to your doorstep, MunchPak is solid entry in the snack-scription service pantheon.