As Podcast listeners and those who’ve attended the Mark B Writing Livestream may be aware, I’ve recently begun dabbling in the world of exotic food subscription services, due entirely to the fact that I love weird crap, and Japan makes plenty of it. As random item subscription services are becoming more popular these days (with Lootcrate and Nerd Block leading the pack), it stands to reason that people are going to be casting more of an eye toward the “Japanese Snack” crates, if only to see what all the fuss is about. I’ve been trying out the two most notable services, Skoshbox and Japan Crate, and since they’ve both upgraded to sizes and “set release packages” recently, thus putting them on even footing, I thought I’d give the January crates a look and compare what you get for viewers, to give you an idea what the best value is for your money.
This particular entry is kind of a surprise “alternate” Skoshbox entry, focusing on the original Skoshbox, as, due to a timeliness issue on my end as it related to swapping my subscription, I ended up receiving both the Dekabox and the normal Skoshbox. When the Skoshbox arrived, I assumed it would be an interesting add-on to the Dekabox piece to show size comparisons, but as it turns out, not only was the Skoshbox different in size, it was different in terms of its contents altogether. For reference, you can look back to my original piece on the Dekabox for details on pricing and such, but as a brief summary, the Skoshbox is a smaller grab-bag style shipment that contains a bunch of sample-size foodstuffs, including all sorts of snacks and candies of various types. Let’s tear into this month’s box and see not only how things stack up to the Dekabox, but what kind of crazy foodstuffs Skoshbox came up with to stuff in this month to differentiate itself from its larger version.
Here’s the box in all its glory; unlike its larger cousin, the Skoshbox is a simple brown box, and looks as if it could house a couple of DVD’s rather than a Lord of the Rings box set. As with the larger version, contents are wrapped up in tissue paper and come with a paper that explains the different foodstuffs in the box, and looks just as professional and stylish as its larger counterpart. The box also boasts a packing stamp, and this time my box was packed up by Emi, who is also a packing pro and deserves much respect for her efforts.
The actual goodies on display, freed of their packing. As with the large box, there’s nothing here protecting the food, IE bubble wrap or padding, but the exterior package is still quite hardy, and it’s protective enough for the foodstuffs packed up in the package.
First up, Potato Chip Sticks, again, and as with their larger cousin, they’re “Nori and Salt” flavored. The package does not have a US nutrition label on it, oddly enough, but from what I can gather from the package, it’s 1.15g and about 81 calories. There’s no indication of “calories from fat,” though, but we can assume probably about 2/3 are from fat here. These are functionally identical to the “Nori and Salt” chip sticks from the prior box, right down to the taste, so, they’re perfectly tasty and kick a little bit, you won’t notice the Nori (seaweed) at all, and it’s basically just potato chips.
We continue the trend of snacks not having US labeling on them here (and a cursory examination shows only two items in this box do, so just assume everything is fattening as hell) with two smaller snacks, one of which is considerably more colorful than the other. The snack on the left is a Shrimp Mayo Umaibo; the name means (roughly) “Delicious Stick,” and its mascot, Uaemon, is kind of a parody of Doraemon. It’s literally a puffed corn cylinder, and it’s actually a pretty tasty snack conceptually, as I’ve had one from a prior Skoshbox that was “Vegetable Salad” flavored and it was interesting. This one, as the name implies, is “Shrimp Mayo” flavored, which sounds gross, not gonna lie, but was also pretty tasty, and kicked just a tiny bit. I might order a few of these from the Skoshbox store (the Teriyaki Burger one sounds interesting and more palatable to my expectations), as they’re pretty good and nothing quite like them exists in the US.
On the other side, we have “Bakauke Fried Sesame,” which is essentially a fried rice and sesame cracker. It’s crispy and is pretty good, honestly; the sesame oil gives it an interesting taste, and it’s quite interesting as a snack food. This is another snack that isn’t really like anything I can think of, and it’s really a good part of how this service works.
The snack on the left here is described as “Sakusaku Panda Cookies,” and it’s an interesting one; essentially, it’s a combination cookie, chocolate and white chocolate made together into the shape of a panda’s face. There are about six in the bag, and they essentially taste like chocolate cream on vanilla cookies. This one is more interesting because of how cute it is, but taste-wise it’s something you’ve had before, most likely.
The snack on the right needs no introduction if you’ve spent any time poking around into weird Japanese snacks (or on Cracked): Green Tea Kit Kat. I’ve seen these before, again in a Japan Crate, and they’re not bad. The green tea is really pleasant and muted in candy form, and the Kit Kat version is more pleasant than it is in other snacks, like Green Tea Pocky for instance. This is also one of the occasional pieces you’ll find that you can pick up online from more standard places; in this case, they’re easily found on Amazon.com, and in fact I’ve sent them to friends of mine because of the sheer novelty of it all.
This one’s pretty simple: it’s a snack-size box of Pocky, this time in Strawberry flavor. The flavor itself is fairly novel, as you’ll mostly see this in chocolate if you happen to run across it online somewhere, and the snack size makes it easy enough to try out to see if it’s a flavor you’re into. This is another snack you can find in all sorts of places, though, but it’s something most people won’t likely have tried so it’s not a bad pick.
We’ll wrap up with mascot themed foodstuffs this time around. The piece on the left is “Star Kirby Bubble Gum,” and it’s a thing that probably would’ve been really popular with kids in the 80’s and early 90’s. Basically, the package contains a couple of small pieces of what seems to be blue raspberry bubblegum, which tastes fine enough and is sufficient enough to blow decent sized bubbles, if that’s a thing you care about. Also inside the package, however, is a sheet of six Kirby stickers and a trading card-sized black and white Kirby image that you can color in if you’re interested. This is definitely a thing six year old me would have loved, and I’ll admit the stickers are cool, but as a snack there are better.
The snack on the right is called “Nameko Biscuits,” and despite the name, they don’t taste like Nameko (which is a type of mushroom used in miso soup), they’re based on the mascot character of the same name. Japan seems to have a lot of mascots that just exist as their own brand, and Nameko is basically that; much like a Domo or a Hello Kitty, he’s a weird penis-shaped mushroom dude that people apparently love (and I describe him as such because before I knew what he was I’d seen pictures that are not great). The snack itself is essentially butter biscuit wafers; they’re pretty tasty and just different enough from butter cookies that they went over better than the cookies from the prior piece. This isn’t a snack you haven’t seen before, though; it’s mostly here for the novelty of being branded after Nameko, which is fun, but not something you’ll order again.
That’s all we’ve got for this package; remember that Skoshbox has their own online store where you can order specific snacks, featuring everything above and more, so subscribers can order anything they liked in bulk and casual readers can try anything they saw here that interested them. In any case, my Japan Crate should be arriving by the time this goes live, so we’ll be back in a bit to check out the Japan Crate for the month of January, to let you know how it stacks up. Check back here soon for the comparison.