Austrian Yum

The October box from Universal Yums had delicious snacks from Austria.

I had some high expectations for this one and there was plenty of chocolate plus some savory items that left me with a positive impression of the snack scene in Austria. There was nothing I didn’t like at least a little so the “worst” item will be the least liked.

My favorite was the Pischinger Mandel Ecken, little chocolate covered, almond topped wafers with almond creme in a tasty little square.

The milk chocolate was decent quality and the almond crunch paired with the crispy wafer worked well. There were a generous number of them and as an accompaniment to a cup of coffee it was outstanding.

My second favorite was a toss up between some Cool Mint Lemon patties and the winner, Schoko-Erdbeeren.

This was a big old bag of strawberry shaped treats. The dark chocolate shell covered a strawberry filling of an interesting consistency. It was like a cross between cream and jelly fillings, very odd but full of artificial strawberry flavor. It was weird and delicious.

My least favorite wasn’t bad but just the laggard in a decent box.

The Milch Wafflets also had strawberry flavor and chocolate but it just wasn’t in the same class. The wafers were not as crispy as the ones in the several other snacks that had wafer cookies. They were a bit styrofoamy. So they were meh.

The weirdest one in the bunch was the Big Banana.

It was a chocolate shell very much like the strawberries but not quite as dark. That shell covered a banana flavored core that again shared a consistency with the strawberries but the artificial banana flavor was not top of the line. It was pretty darn big though.

Everything I’ve highlighted was sweet but there were a couple of savory snacks as well; some Paprika Chips of the potato variety and some Creamy Onion Mini Fritts french fry sticks. There were some additional chocolate snacks and a gingerbread cookie that had hazelnuts, almonds, honey and candied orange peel. Overall the box was loaded with leckerein.

Next box is from Spain and I have no clue what to expect.

Italian Yum

Italian Snacks

The February box from Universal Yum was loaded with snacks from the best country shaped like footwear and like quality footwear even if it’s not your style it’s hard to say bad stuff about it. Nothing in this box fell into the “yuck” category although a couple were unusual enough to make you go hmmm.

It was hard to pick a favorite this month. Nothing really stood out far and away above the others but it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate an hazelnuts so here was the one that edged out the others.

The chocolate was good and the hazelnut chips, while not evenly distributed, managed to show up in every bite. Plus I like the packaging, no glitz just information. Interesting marketing.

Number two on the hit parade revisits the same combo.

That trapezoidal chocolate hunk in the middle is the runner up. The chocolate is silkier than the bar and the hazelnut flavor is fully saturated in the candy. As I’m writing this it occurs to me the reason this is in second place has more to do with size rather than taste. I guess it does matter.

The most unusual was a tie between a sweet and a savory.

The white chocolate bar with saffron was interesting. The white candy part was nothing special on it’s own but the saffron was a nice addition. It was subtle but obvious on first bite but the distinctiveness fell off with each additional square. After a break though the next first bite was interesting all over again.

The savory item was a lemon pepper wheat cracker sort of thing. After tasting the first one I decided this was going to be pared with some soup. In this case lentil soup. The tart lemon and spiciness of the black pepper were a perfect accompaniment to the earthy lentils. I’d not have thought about that combo in a cracker but it worked.

So my least favorite wasn’t really bad but just the back of the pack overall.

I feel like I should have liked these more but the truffle chips really just didn’t do it for me. The chips were crispy and their truffle game was strong but maybe too strong. I could taste the truffle before it even hit the tongue and it was just as strong on the last chip as it was on the first.

I have to give honorably mention to the almond crisp cookies.

After I had the first one I immediately got up and fixed a cup of coffee. Great almond taste and crispy and crunchy like nobody’s business. I don’t think I’ve a better coffee companion in quite a while.

The other items in the box were a carrot orange cake, tiramisu cake, rosemary crackers, pizza flavored corn puff rings, cappuccino chocolate ball and fizzy hard candies in lemon and orange flavor. All snack worthy.

I didn’t even crack the code for March. I figured I let it be a surprise.

Russian Yum

Russian Snacks

The October box from Universal Yums was loaded with snacks from the continents spanning country of Russia.


The nice thing was there were none that I really disliked but it was also pretty easy to come up with the “worst yum” for me as well.

As usual there was a nice mix of sweet and savory leaning more toward the sweet end of the snack scale.  My favorite was also the first snack I tried, the Blackurrant Zefir.

This snack was a chocolate covered marshmallow cream with black currant. The layer of chocolate was very thin and brittle. The marshmallow filling was the star. It was a bit firmer than marshmallow fluff and a nice tangy mix of black currant throughout. Really tasty and a winner from the start.

My second favorite was the Grapefruit Chocolate bar.

It had a very good quality dark chocolate providing a thick shell for a creamy filling.  The filling had a significant grapefruit taste.  It was authentic enough I expected a bitter aftertaste that never came.  It was just the citrusy grapefruit goodness with some sweetness that melded well with the slightly bitter dark chocolate.

The worst of the lot was the Holodets and Horseradish Husks.

I didn’t know what holodets was until I read it in the booklet.  It is cold meat jelly and that put visions of that congealed nonsense you wipe off of spam or something like souse.  Either way not an appetizing picture to start.  When I opened the package I got a whiff of something that smelled vaguely meaty but not appetizing.  Husk apparently means something like breadstick.  These were rye bread bits and I figured getting past the smell would get me a sinus clearing taste of horseradish but it was very very mild.  The texture was like a crouton and since they weren’t very good just eating them from the bag I tried eating them with a bowl of homemade vegetable soup.  They didn’t ruin my soup so they had that going for them.  Anyway not the best.

The most unusual wasn’t anything weird but more like something unexpected in the Tula Pryanik.

This was a nice big gingerbread cake made with milk and honey.  The Russian writing was raised and the whole thing was about an inch thick and had a thin line of filling in the middle that was brown and sweet.  The cake itself had about the same consistency as a cake doughnut and the gingerbread taste was milder than just about anything gingerbread in the US.

In addition to the ones pictured there was a toffee with peanuts, shishkabob potato crisps, fairy tale roll cakes, wheat snacks that were shallot and potato flavored, salmon and cheese husks and a big old pack of milk cookies with a chocolate glaze on the bottom.  Oh yeah the bag of candies was great with forest fairy honey peanut delights, juicy light peach & apricot jellies, and caramel dreams that had no caramel but did have lemon fondant and apple jam.

Good box of snacks.  If I read the clues right next months featured country it Holland.  I bet it’ll be Gouda.  (I’m not even ashamed)



UK Yums

United Kingdom

This month’s Yum box was loaded with snacks from across the pond and specifically the UK.  Just to get rid of any confusion the little booklet pointed out early on that while many people equate the UK with Great Britain they aren’t exactly the same.  Great Britain is England, Scotland & Wales and the UK is Great Britain plus Northern Ireland.  Now that we have that out of the way here are shots of the box opening.

The box leaned more towards the sweet side than savory side of the snack spectrum.  There were 3 bags of different flavored crisps and 3 different kinds of cookies or biscuits plus a couple of toffees and other chewy treats.  As has been the custom I’ll go over my favourite 2 along with the most unusual and least favorite and this week an honorable mention in the unusual category.

Both the favourites appealed to my sweet tooth.  The first was the Wagon Wheels.

These Wagon Wheels Jammie snacks beg for a comparison to moon pie’s based on first look as it was two cookies sandwiching marshmallow and covered in chocolate.  Covered in medium quality milk chocolate with a low melting point that didn’t taste bad but you could count on a little mess. The cookies were thinner than a moon pie and crisper as well as sweeter. The marshmallow cream was smoother and not chewy like a moon pie’s.  The biggest differentiator was the little dab of jam that added a great taste.  It was for sure sweeter than I was expecting but very good.  Also the packaging is complete with that icon of UKness, the Conestoga wagon.

The second place favourite (actually third but the real second was the most unusual) was the Toffypops.

These were a tad melty when they came in off the August in the South front porch so I threw them in the freezer and as a result they were not as pretty as if they’d come straight from the grocer’s shelf.  In spite of their unsightliness they were tasty.  Toffypops are tea biscuits with toffee in a well at the center of the biscuit and topped with chocolate. The cookie was plain with little flavor of it’s own which made the taste of the chocolate and toffee stand out all the more. The chocolate was ok but the toffee was quite good and the combo went well together.  I didn’t have mine with tea but I could certainly imagine it going well with a strong black tea.

My least favourite item was from the bag of candies.

The yellowish green one was called a chocolate lime candy.  These little nuggets are hard candies that have an artificial lime flavor typical of the genre and have a center of equally artificial chocolate flavor.  The combination did nothing for me and the whole thing just tasted so artificial it was off putting (that sounds better than nasty right?).

The most unusual category I have what was also my true second favorite as well as an honorable mention.

Johnny’s Pickled Onion Rings were a surprising snack that made me go Wow!  The vinegar and onion taste are no joke on these little bad boys. They are fairly uniform corn based rings and even as I was taking that first bite I smelled the vinegar.  I could feel the glands in my neck react and the pucker factor was serious business when they hit the tongue.  The vinegar is definitely the first impression but then the onion flavor gets to come out and play and the overall snack was a hit with me.  I could see bowls of these sitting on a bar doing the job of getting people to order an extra pint or two.

The honorable mention goes to one of the bags of crisps.

I can’t think of a more fitting company to make haggis and cracked pepper crisps than Mackie’s of Scotland.  I have to be honest and say I approached these with some trepidation but also it was the first snack I tried.  I had no idea what I was going to get because I’ve never had real haggis but I’ve read descriptions and never thought I had to book a flight and get me some.  Turns out it was a nice crisp.  The seasonings gave it a salty, smokey taste, then you got the potato flavor.  The cracked pepper was not to be left out and built up the heat a little as more of the chips were consumed.  One thing about all the crisps, they were thicker than a standard US chip but more delicate than a kettle cooked style.  Also the various flavor profiles were more subtle than what you’d get in a US chip and you could get a better taste of the potato.

The other items in the box were good and while I won’t detail them all I’ll mention what they were; Creamy Dreamy Toffee, Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar Crisps, Mature Cheddar & Onion Crisps, Chocolate Chip Shortbread biscuits, Rhubarb & Custard Chews, Walker’s Treacle Toffee, Prosecco Fudge, Kir Royale Black Currant & Champagne Chews.

Overall an interesting and enjoyable box with some items I liked more than I thought I would and some that were a bit disappointing but not bad, except the lime chocolates.  Those were not pleasing.

Based on the clues I think next month will be Thailand but I’m not sure.


Amazonian Yum


Opening this month’s Yum box I was greeted with the bright flag of Brazil and on the flip side of the welcome were the first puzzle and some quick facts.

The box was filled with a great looking assortment of sweet & savory snacks.

Like last month I’ll cover my favorite, runner-up, least favorite & most unusual of the 13 snacks and this month I managed to snap some shots of the actual food before chowing down.  None of the snacks were too weird or totally out there but some were certainly better than others.

My favorite was the Amori 1000 – Chocolate covered wafer with coconut filling. Based on the description unless someone figured out how to screw up this combo the Amori 1000 was going to be near the top of the heap for me as chocolate and coconut are a combo I love. Of the two chocolate covered snacks this had a better but thinner layer of chocolate than the Cory Pao Dimel.  It also had crispy wafers and nice layers of coconut creme filling in a triangular shape. No one screwed up, this was a great snack that I’m glad I can’t buy on a regular basis because it wouldn’t do my A1C any favors.  The picture doesn’t do it justice.

There was a tie for the runner-up.  Both of the pepper crackers made the list.

Delicitos Pimenta – Pepper crackers. These little pillows of crunchy pepper flavored snacks were unexpectedly great. As I was eating the first cracker I got a whiff of a vinegary pepper smell that started the anticipation then it hit the taste buds. Pretty salty and the pepper flavor is strong and I was waiting for the accompanying burn. It never came. All the flavor and none of the burn on a crunchy pillow cracker. Definitely a winner.

Snacks! Pimenta Calbresa – Calabrian chili crackers were another winner.  There were a ton of these little crackers in the tube shaped bag. They are about 3/4-1″ long (18-25mm for you metric folk) and if they had been segmented they’d have reminded me of the mealworms they sell for bird food, just in shape not taste. The taste of the calabrian chili was like a smoky paprika to me and the size and shape made for a satisfying crunchy snack. They do have a ton of salt too so have a something to drink close at hand.

My least favorite was Pipoca Vivozinha – Sweet Puffed Corn. These reminded me of Super Sugar Crisp cereal in both taste and texture even though they are different grains. They weren’t bad but there’s a reason I never asked for that cereal as a kid unless it had a rocking prize.

The oddest of the lot was one of the small candies.  Bananada com Chocolate – Chocolate covered banana bar. The chocolate covering was dark and had a good, if slightly artificial, taste. When I bit it I expected a light colored filling since it was supposed to be banana but the inside was black like an extremely ripe banana and the taste was similar. It was good but the texture was a bit different than expected and the black interior could be offputting and the taste had kind of a tobacco taste underlying the banana and while that probably sounds gross the overall flavor was okay.

In addition to the snacks detailed above there were some chocolate covered honey bread cookies that reminded me of a moon pie minus the marshmallow plus two different gummy candies, one loaded with sprinkles and the other flavored yogurt flavored.  The other small candies were a peanut flavored one that reminded me of peanut butter fudge but not as sweet and more like a marzipan texture plus a coconut one that tasted like the coconut bars I got as a kid whenever we stopped for gas on long trips.  Plus a few more that I won’t detail but I’m glad I got to try.

Finally if you want to experience a curated batch of Brazilian music videos check out the link below.