Japanese snack subscription boxes have exploded in popularity, and with good reason. Japan produces the most wonderful (and sometimes weird!) array of delicious munchy things. Not only is there remarkable choice, but the package designs are brightly coloured and extremely attractive. You can also get some unique versions of familiar sweets and chocolate bars.
Anyway, this particular box is from Freedom Japanese Market, run by an expat family. It contains an impressive variety of snacks and candies. They have three box sizes:
Puchi Pack – 5 to 8 full size and sample snacks $14.99 p/m (£11.78)
Original Pack – 12 to 16 full size and sample snacks including 1 DIY candy kit $24.99 p/m (£19.64)
Family Pack – 24 to 32 full size and sample snacks including 1 DIY candy kit $45.99 p/m (£36.14) Two of everything – double the snacks without double the price.
Longer subscriptions are lower price.
Shipping is included in the price. Also in the box is a handmade piece of origami!
I was sent an Original Pack. While the box takes 10 – 20 days to arrive (which coming from Japan with no extra shipping costs is bloody good) it arrived in perfect shape.
As this is a family business their family portrait is on the box. Great anime style!
On top you can see their monthly origami. Every single box contains one, and are all handmade by the lady you see in the picture.
A tie! Bit small for my husband but I think he might like a lifesize version!
The tie is in honour of Father’s Day. On the back of the leaflet is the menu.
I can see two of my favourite things in there already!
These boxes are packed by Ken (who is also superb at customer service communication), and I’m amazed every month at how he manages to fit everything in so perfectly.
Anyway, let’s have a look at what’s inside.
A Pizza Umaibo! I love love love these. They are a crunchy corn snack shaped like a very thick tube. And believe it or not, this really does taste like pizza, with the texture of Monster Munch.
Fun fact: Umaibo means ‘delicious stick’ in Japanese. The most literal name ever.
Peach flavour is popular in Japan. This is Sono Manma Peach, and contains three little balls of bubblegum. The secret is one of them is sour but you don’t know which one! Russian Roulette with gumballs.
Check out the picture on the package: I love how there are two happy little guys and one pulling a face! I’m pretty sure that’s what my face looked like when I bit into the sour gum. Though I adore sour things so it wasn’t that bad!
Yay, Umaibo #2! This is a Salad Umaibo. These things come in a multitude of crazy flavours, and while I can’t quite match the salad flavour – it’s kind of like ranch dressing – with the crunchy texture it’s still wonderful.
The package design of this Banana Man is very funny. Inside is a banana-flavour marshmallow with a chocolate filling. Anyone who has baked bananas with chocolate over a campfire knows how delicious that combination is.
This is my other favourite thing: Vanilla Ice Cream Tohato Caramel Corn. Japanese caramel corn is not like popcorn, but instead a little like sweet extra-crunchy Wotsits. Put like that it doesn’t sound great, but it tastes AMAZING.
It comes in a variety of flavours, often in a limited edition. This particular flavour is, not surprisingly, released to celebrate summer!
I love the sailor-style packaging too.
These are a very traditional Japanese candy called Konpeito. They are basically tiny little lumpy sugar balls, very crunchy and sweet. The different colours have different flavours.
Another corn snack! I love Japanese corn snacks, and they are clearly very popular. This is Yakiniku Texas Corn. Yakiniku is the Japanese version of the Korean barbecue, and literally means ‘grilled meat’.
I guess that they’ve added the Texas part because barbecue is incredibly popular in Texas too! This is delicious, very savory, but I can also recommend you go to Texas and try actual barbecue there because it’s incredible.
A slightly different type of corn snack: Mike Popcorn in Lemon Pepper flavour! I love salted popcorn, and while this isn’t exactly salted, it’s certainly not sickly sweet. It’s a quite unusual flavour but really quite pleasant, and it certainly makes a nice change from the standard cinema variety.
This flavour is an exclusive limited edition for the summer only.
The name of these makes me giggle (because I’m incredibly childish): Karappa in Yakisoba flavour. Yakisoba is a classic Japanese stir fry with pork and vegetables.
Savory, crunchy, and delicious. Plus bonus cute animals playing tennis on the bag!
Here’s something I can pretend is healthy: Minivita C. These are tiny candy tablets with added vitamin C. They are orange ramune (soda pop) flavoured, rather like Berocca but without the bitter edge, and are remarkably delicious.
Another package with all the cuteness. These Nericcho Soft are a DIY candy kit consisting of tiny cones and strawberry ice cream flavour candy. You put them together to make mini ice cream cone candies. So adorable!
Will the kawaii (cute) never end? My daughter spotted the little bunny on this candy immediately. This Bin Ramune consists of a soda bottle-shaped wafer cone filled with sherbert-like sugar. The idea is that you poke the straw (included in the package) into the bottom of the cone and suck up the powdered sugar. The bunny on the package shows you the idea. I guess it’s kind of like sucking up dry ramune (soda pop). Odd but quite nice.
The final bonus item is Awa Mokomoko. This is a fun item and kind of another DIY. There is a line on top of the bag to cut it open, and then another line lower down where you fill it with water. Stir it up and it foams and fizzes like crazy! There is a straw in the box so you can easily drink it from the bag. This is banana flavour, and tastes very similar to those chewy banana candies I remember from childhood.
Once again, I love this box. There are thirteen items in total and five of them are savory, or savory-ish in the case of the popcorn. I love savory snacks, and I always find all the lovely crunchy corn snacks very tasty.
As for the sweeties, there is a terrific variety of flavours and textures. Having two ramune-related candies is quite a treat, and it’s fun to have a couple of things that require more than just opening a package and shoving everything in your mouth!
These snacks are pretty much properly exclusively Japanese, by which I mean you’re not getting these in a store which stocks Asian foods. So you’re not going to get items manufactured for the Western market which spend months in a container ship. These are straight from Japan made for the Japanese market, and several of these things required a great deal of complicated Googling and translating to track down.
The family-run aspect of this business pleases me a great deal, because I love the personal touch they add. I’m always hugely impressed everything is packed so beautifully, not to mention the time and effort that must go in to making all those origami!
The selection is thoughtful, and there is plenty of variety, both in taste and texture.
I think the value is very reasonable, not least because they come all the way from Japan with no extra shipping charge. As is always the bigger boxes are the best value for money, and if you have a larger family (or are simply greedy) the Family pack is perfect because you get two of everything.
They do offer a small version, the Puchi Pack, which is still fine, but you’ll definitely miss out on some of the items. For an extra eight quid it’s worth getting the Regular pack!
If you love Japanese candy and snacks, or are simply looking for something more interesting than Walkers and Cadbury, this is a great place to start!