So I canceled one of my monthly nerd boxes a few months ago and last month I saw an ad for a different kind of subscription box that fit nicely with the theme of this blog. The Universal Yums subscription box is a monthly box of snacks from a different country each month.
There are 3 different box sizes; 6+, 12+, & 20+ snacks. I went with the Yum Yum box (12) items as that seemed like a good number to get a decent sample size and 20 seemed like too much. The May box was my first and the country was the Philippines.
Flipping over the cover sheet as directed I found a ballot to vote for a favorite item, runner up, worst yum and most unusual plus the first of the activities, match the neighboring countries, solve a secret code with answers from the booklet included and a guess next months country.
Under this was the booklet mentioned above. The booklet tells you more about the country, includes more activities, provides a link to a curated list of music from the country as well as a description of each of the snacks included and finally the answers to activities on the cover card.
After flipping through the book it was time to have a look at the included snacks (see the restraint I showed by looking at words and not food first). Here’s a snap of the haul.
There were indeed 12 different snack items and I don’t want to take you through each one because that would be wordier than my common blog entry. What I decided to do for the boxes is follow the ballot model and give details about my two favorites plus the most unusual and the one I liked the least. This month I realized I didn’t take photos of the individual snack items which I’ll do going forward to provide a visual to go with the narrative. Here are the snacks laid out in their original packaging though.
In general let me say the box had a good blend of sweet & savory snacks and most of the savory ones were crispy and / or crunchy. Some were similar to mainstream snacks we have in the US but other decidedly not. Here is a rundown of the 4 I chose for the ballot.
Favorite – Pinipig polvoron, a crisped sticky rice short bread cookie. It had a bit of dairy flavor and an interesting texture. It was a nice solid cookie when removed from the package but as soon as I bit it the piece in my mouth lost all cohesion and turned into a silky powder with lumps of the crispy rice surfing through to be crunched between teeth. It was an odd but pleasant textural touch. It was sweet but not overly so and in spite of the simpleness of it I liked this one a lot.
Runner up – Potato Fries Ketchup Flavor. I was surprised at this coming in as #2 since ketchup is like my #3 condiment. These were french fry shaped potato products that was light and had a snappy crunch along with a real, albeit slight, potato taste. And as much as I’m not a fan of tomato barbecue powder flavors this ketchup flavor was really good. It had a distinctive tomato taste with sweetness and a little tang you expect from ketchup.
Worst – Mr Mais chewy candy. This little nugget was perhaps the closest to gag inducing of anything in the box, including the box. The candy is “chewy sweet corn” with a “butter” filling. Wow, it tasted like semi hardened corn syrup and then when chewed the artificial butter flavor spilled out like some noxious leak from a barrel of rancid butter wannabe. It wasn’t tasty is what I’m saying.
Most Unusual – Mr Keso, another of the chewy candies. I actually expected this one to be the nastiest of the lot but surprisingly it was not as you know from the previous award winner. The chewy outer had a mild sweet cheese flavor that wasn’t too bad and then the liquid hits with a much stronger cheesy flavor. Now this was not a real natural cheese flavor but more like a liquid version of the cheese “sauce” from boxed mac & cheese. Not exactly something I’m itching to try again but not the worst. Oh and notice what they did with the names of the chewy candies?
I did get introduced to two new flavors, pandan & ube which added color as well, green & purple respectively. In the snacks their flavors were much more subtle than the artificial colors that accompanied them so I truly don’t know if I could pick them out if I tasted them again. For the interested pandan is a green plant that is apparently popular in southeast Asian circles and ube is a purple yam.
Overall the box was a fun, filling, educational romp through another culture’s snacks and I can’t wait until June’s box of Brazilian (I cracked that coded hint) snacks arrives.