Several Asian snack concerns that offer monthly or bi-monthly boxes or snack surprise packages have contacted me and I've reviewed those services. Recently, I was contacted by a similar service coming out of Germany. Since I've expanded the scope of this blog to include the occasional focus on other countries and their junk food, I was delighted when they offered to send me a (free) sample box so that I could get an idea of their service as well as enjoy what I was sure would be German snack treat delights.
If your notions of German treats comes from The Simpsons, in which we've seen (German exchange student) Uder eating "marzipan Joy Joy (mit Iodine)", then you've got the wrong idea. Think chocolate, gummy, caramel, and sugary delights. There was no marzipan in the box (though I would have been delighted if there had been), and, most fortunately, nothing which was fortified with Iodine... that being said, I did get a goiter in Japan so maybe I could use some Iodine in my snacks.
The assortment I was sent was not only broad, but large. CandyGerman, like many such services, chooses a variety of items and sends the box to customers. You don't choose what you get, but it is a good system if you like surprises. I don't generally have access to a lot of German candy, but some of these items or ones similar to them can be purchased at places like CostPlus World Imports. It would cost me about the same as a subscription fee to CandyGerman to buy this many European snacks locally, and I wouldn't be able to get every type of food that they sent in the box (not by a long shot). So, I pronounce this a pretty good deal based on my current shopping options. Of course, any person's shopping mileage may vary. If you've got a cheap German market down the street chock full of goodies - and, if you do, I envy you - then this may not seem like such a sweet package.
I received this package soon after they said it would ship and in very good condition. As you can see by the peanuts, it's packed well. None of the fragile items that were inside (cookies) were damaged in any way. Considering that it also included wafer-based "Happy Hippo" confections and they arrived in beautiful condition, I think that their packing passes any reasonable test.
If you think I was sent a "special" package with more or better items, then you can check on what they normally send by looking at/following their Facebook page. They're relatively new, but have posted some pictures and it looks like every box is as generous as the one that I received. I should note that the people who corresponded with me were polite, friendly, and prompt. I'm confident that if you have questions or problems that they'll work with you to make you happy. Their contact information with an e-mail address is on their site.
My conclusion is that the service is not "cheap", but it's not "expensive" for what you get either. You can have a box for around the price of a couple of decent chain delivery pizzas. However, I guess whether or not that comparison makes sense to you depends on what you believe is "decent" and what part of the world/country you live in. If "Little Caesar's" $5-8 pies are what you're finding fills your belly with fun-to-eat carbs, fat, and meat-like substances, then this may seem steep to you.
Over time, I will be reviewing individual items from the box, but I wanted to start with a curious one that overlaps with a Japanese snack since that is the name of my game most of the time. I was stunned to see a box of Koala cookies which is clearly the German variation on Koala's March (as they are sold as in Japan). I've tried several takes on this cookie (Hello Panda, Pucca, and a few different flavors of Koala's March) and I can say that, hand's down, this is the one that I've liked the best. I don't speak German, but I concluded based on the taste that "milch" is "milk". Also, I'm not a total dumb ass and realized that the two words sound similar long before I opened the package.
The basic look and feel of the cookie is pretty similar to all of the copies and the original, but there is a "cookie" flavor that these have which is much more prominent. The Japanese variation has a rather bland outer shell with super sweet filling. The shell on this German variation carries a sugar-cookie-style flavor and has a sweet milky white chocolate center. I don't like Koala's March enough to buy it most of the time, but I liked these a fair bit. However, be warned that they are quite sweet. Given that they are marketed toward the child market, this is no shock.
The company that makes these is not Lotte, but Kuchenmeister. My guess is that there is some agreement between the Korean/Japanese maker and the German one to allow for the packaging and product design, but the cookies have been modified to suit German tastes. There are two flavors - milk and chocolate - and it seems that they put a toy featuring a version of their mascot inside the boxes. Mine has a vampire motif, but the current one pictured on the web site has an ancient Olympic one featuring the mascot variations in togas. If Kinder Eggs have taught us anything, it's that Europeans aren't nearly as hysterical about toys with food marketed at children as Americans are. I tend to see this as a good thing, but I didn't bother to procreate so my opinion on this matter doesn't carry a lot of weight.
The cookies definitely get a happy rating. If I weren't such a sugar wuss, they might even get a "very happy", but they're a little too sweet for my aging palate. Nonetheless, they are tasty little cookies.