Recently, I took a trip to Seattle and shopped at no less than four Japanese markets. The experience reminded me of something which I'd started to forget and that is that, even if you live close to Asian markets of any sort, the selection is often limited and the price greatly inflated. Despite my high level of interest in Japanese snacks, the prices were often 200% of that I'd pay in Japan. A bag of my favorite sembei was between $6.00-$8.00 when it'd sell for as little as 170 yen in Japan.
Though I get my ZenPop boxes gratis for review purposes, I am reminded of what a good way this is to get a wider selection of snacks after my foray into Seattles Uwajimayas and other Asian markets. The only things I bought were things like shokupan (Japanese milk bread) and baked goods because they were not shelf stable and I couldn't get them via other sellers or subscriptions. It is definitely cheaper to get snacks from ZenPop than it is to go to the types of markets that I visited. Of course, it's not as cheap as buying them in Japan, but it's cheaper than a plane ticket.
The theme of this box is "movie date pack" and it ironically arrived the day before my husband and I planned to see Avengers: Endgame for a second time. I don't know if I can sneak if the somewhat big bag of popcorn that is in the box, but I might try if I can find a purse large enough.
In this box, here is what is included:
Mike Shoyu Butter Popcorn: I have never bought pre-popped popcorn because I'm a snob who only eats popcorn that has been freshly made. That being said, the flavor on this (soy sauce and butter) is intriguing. It's a flavor combination which I've enjoyed many times on kabocha (Japanese pumpkin/squash).
Grape Puchi Gum: Behind the little bean-sized bits of gum, there is a piece of paper in the center of the box designed to let you play a tennis game. I'm not sure how it works at present because there is too much gum in the way, but I'll give it a better look when I review the gum.
Juice C Fruit Color Balls: Though these look a lot like the grape Puchi gum, they are more of a Skittles-type candy fromt he look of things. I have not had these before though so it'll be a new experience. The flavors are pineapple, melon, grape, strawberry, and orange.
Bontan Ame: I had these many times when I lived in Japan and am pleased to see them appear in this box. I reviewed them nine years ago in this blog and they haven't changed a bit in all that time.
Puccho Ibaraking Melon: "Ibaraki" has been made into a verb/gerund for the name of this because it's the name of a prized melong originating in that prefecture. This is a chewy candy reminiscent of a Starburst. It has little flavor spots in it which look to be liquid-like.
Mr. Ito Vanilla Cream Cookies: I've eaten with Mr. Ito before and found his chestnut tart cookies quite appealing. We will see how these simpler cookies are.
Kabaya Mini Melon Pan Cookies: This is my favorite item in the box as I love melon pan and the idea of a cookie that resembles them, even if it's only in appearance, makes me smile. They look like they'd pair well with some tea as they are described as "dry" with a "sugar crust."
Pokemon Wafers: This is a dagashi (kid's sancks) item so I'm guessing it'll be a pretty basic wafer. That doesn't mean it won't be good. I'm a huge fan of wafers, but I'm guessing the main appeal of this is the collectible sticker inside the package.
Ume Sugar Sembei: I had problems deciding if this should be in the savory or sweet section because this has sugar on the outside, but plum flavoring as well. Most people think sembei is salty, but there is a market for sweet ones as well. Though I think this will be of less interest to readers, it's my second most interesting item in the box.
Caplico Mini Cone: As the information sheet for this snack mentions, these cones have been around forever, but I never tried one during my 23 years in Japan. I think one of the reasons was that I usually found them in supermarkets in enormous bags. It'll be interesting to (finally) give this a try and see what the "ice cream" is made up of.
Ice Ramune: This appears to be little sugar candies (like a hard candy), but I'm not sure because it has opaque packaging. The first ingredient is "grape sugar" and the second is erythritol which I'm assuming is the source of the promised "cooling" effect of the candy as that sweetener leaves a cool feeling on the tongue.
Puka Puka Taiyaki Mint: The cooling from this snack will come from the mint. I've had some puka puka taiyaki before, but, unfortunately never reviewed it. I have liked past interations of this very much, but I'm a little concerned about how the chocolate with mint might be presented. I'm also a bit disconcerted by the blue color of the fish as it looks so fake.
Sequoia Chocolate Bar: This is a classic and I have reviewed this iteration (as well as many others) before.
Poiful Drink Mix: Poiful are a type of jelly bean that are a little smaller and chewier than American jelly beans. This presented a problem for me when I reviewed two other varieties in the past because trying to chew something so small generally ended up with me chewing my cheeks. We'll see if I've developed better masticating skills now. This is called a drink mix because these are cola, lemon squash, cider, and white soda flavored.
Cola Up: This is a tray of cola-flavored gummy candies. I have exceptionally low expectations for this snack both because it's dagashi (kid's snacks) and it's cola flavored. In my experience, cola-flavored sweets tend to be terrible because they have an odd flavor (think off-brand cola) and cola without carbonation is rarely a tasty thing.
I am a little disappointed with the heavy emphasis on sweet over savory in this box, but this is a "sweets" box so I can't say it's an unfair distribution. I just am accustomed to more salty items in the mix than this one provided.
As for what I'd take along to the movies, if my puny purse can't take the popcorn, the Poifull and Color Balls are looking pretty snackable.
I hope to review most of the items in this box in the coming weeks!
If you're interested in ZenPop's Japanese snack service, you can reach them here.