I was delighted recently to find an email in my inbox asking me if I would like to receive a box of Japanese goodies from a new subscription service in the US called Skoshbox.
Skoshbox is a company founded by two close friends from childhood who have lived in both Japan and the US throughout their lives. Raised by Japanese mothers and brought up on Japanese snacks, video games, and comfort food, they noticed a severe lack of variety and accessibility to affordable Japanese items in the US. Out of this they created Skoshbox - a monthly subscription service that will deliver a variety of new and quircky snacks to your doorstep.
They hand pick every item that goes into the box, because it is important to them that each item reflects the Japan they know and love so much.
The subscription service is priced at $12 which includes shipping. At the moment it is available within the US only, but according to their Facebook page, they are working on bringing Skoshbox to the international community as well.
For my readers who live in the US I have a special promo code that you can use at checkout which will entitle you to a FREE mystery snack included in your box. Just type the code TASTYJP05.
The code is valid until July 15th 2013 which is the cut-off date for ordering the first box. (Unfortunately because I live in Australia, my parcel took quite a while to arrive so my readers will have less time to use the code.)
I've looked for information on the website and Facebook page as to why Skoshbox is named that. Where did the name come from? I can't find any info but I can only assume it comes from the Japanese word "sukoshi" - meaning "a little bit" because the parcel that came in the mail was filled with lots of little bits and pieces.
When I opened the box, I noticed that it was very professionally packed. There was a postcard that greeted me, which had all the snacks listed on the other side in English. The white tissue paper wrapped around the snacks was a nice touch and it made it feel like I was getting a gift.
Even though the parcel was quite small, it was filled to the brim with a variety of snacks which gave me the feeling of receiving a lot. I knew all the snacks in the box, they are my husband's childhood favourites.
The one thing I observed though is that if you can't read Japanese, then you wouldn't know what snack is which, just by reading the postcard alone. In my opinion, the postcard needs an image of the snack next to each listing. Otherwise, customers will have to find out purely by a process of elimination.
There was a total of 14 items in the box. 13 of which were edible. When my Japanese husband saw what was in the box he exclaimed "natsukashii" (nostalgic) because these are the snacks he grew up eating, and some of them he still eats now, even though we are in Australia.
My husband and 2 year old son joined me for this review, purely because we all love Japanese snacks and they were hanging around watching me so I had to invite them to join. ;)
We started off with the Senbei (rice cracker) which was soy sauce flavour. There were two crackers in the pack and they are supposed to be "soft" senbei (easy to bite into), but they were quite hard. I thought maybe they were a bit stale. The soy sauce flavour was hard to detect, my husband and I first thought that it was salt or salad flavour because we could only smell the soy sauce. The cracker itself was quite salty. None of us were very big fans of this senbei sadly.
Kaki no Tane
There were two small packs of Kakipi, and my husband and I had one pack each since my son has a nut allergy. We both felt there were too many peanuts in the pack. Usually (and this is just personal preference) we like to eat 2 or 3 hot crackers with one peanut, but each pack seemed to have a high ratio of peanuts to crackers, meaning when we had finished the crackers there were still peanuts left. If we ate the crackers and peanuts together, then the spiciness of the crackers was mellowed out by the peanuts.
The packaging was very cute and my son made a grab for it straight away. We all liked the crispy shell and the chocolate inside had a very strong cocoa flavour. Some of the chocolates had a picture of a cow on the outside so we felt lucky, because they are rare.
The outside of this packet is also very cute and shows pictures of Koala's that may show up in your pack indicating you are "lucky". Unfortunately I got no such characters, or if I did, I couldn't tell because the insides were broken. This happens sometimes and because it came such a long way, it can't be helped. We found that the shell was very crunchy and nice but the chocolate had an odd flavour, like it was old. My son made a swipe for this packet too!
Umaibo is a long tubular corn snack, similar to what Aussies would know of as a "Cheezel" but sweeter. This was broken into 4 pieces inside the pack but I have found them to be somewhat fragile in the past, so it's no wonder. It's probably not a good snack to send internationally because it is easy to break. The flavour was quite cheesy but it also had a sweetness that Western savoury snacks don't have. We all enjoyed this one!
I have to admit, I am not a fan of seafood, but my husband loves mentaiko. I was not looking forward to trying it but was pleasantly surprised. There wasn't too much seafood smell or flavour and to me this could have been bbq for all I knew. We all liked it but preferred the cheese. My son chomped the last half of the stick all by himself!
How to split this candy three ways was our difficulty, however we managed and liked it. It was very mini indeed, I would have liked a couple of each flavour in the box. The strawberry flavour was very light. The candy was very chewy and stuck to my teeth.
This was green and white in colour and tasted like rock melon. The flavour was very strong and reminded us what we love about Japan. All three of us wanted more of melon Haichu. It was a very pleasant candy to eat.
Look Chocolate Matcha Azuki
We all like the combination of Matcha (green tea) and Azuki (red bean) so we expected great things from this chocolate. The matcha flavour was strong, rich and quite sweet, but we couldn't taste any azuki which is a real shame. I preferred this chocolate out of the two flavours.
Look Chocolate Matcha Milk
The "milk" inside this chocolate was clear and stringy, unlike the image on the box of a white creamy liquid. However, I could taste a creaminess which I imagined was the milk. The matcha in this chocolate was not as strong as with the azuki which I didn't like but my husband loved. My son devoured both chocolates and seemed to love them both equally...he would have had another box of them if he could!! ;)
Besides Tirol, Chocoball is my husbands favourite snack ever. He loves the combination of peanuts and chocolate. I expected him to love this as it's the original version of chocoball. However he told me that the flavour of this mini pack was different to the normal box of original Chocoball and he thinks that the layer of chocolate is thinner. I liked the crunchiness of the toffee and coating inside, and the flavour of the dark chocolate on the outside, but I too noticed something different but I couldn't work out what it was. The only thing I could say is that these small snacks seem like they come from a share-pack so they could have been modified a little bit for that purpose.
Orange Bubble Gum
Bubble gum is not something I eat a lot of, so I have no real expertise in this area. I am familiar with this gum mainly because I see it for sale at oriental supermarkets in my city. This was my first time trying it, and sadly will be my last. The orange flavour was strong and it burned my tongue. Both sides of my tongue were on fire while eating this and afterwards I had acid indigestion. I can only assume that whatever chemical used in this gum just doesn't agree with me. It is a cheap and nasty addition to Skoshbox and I would recommend they leave it out in future.
There was only one of these candies so I got to have it to myself. I was glad I did because it was so creamy and tasted very milky. It was really hard so it lasted a long time. I wished there were more of these candies in the box!!
I thought it was kind of strange to put an eraser in a box of candy from Japan. I know that Japan is popular with geeks and they must like using mechanical pens and erasers. But for the rest of us who aren't students, what will we do with an eraser? If it has to be an eraser, I would prefer something more "Japanese" such as one of those cute erasers that look like a bowl of ramen or a sushi roll. Otherwise I would have liked to see a cultural item such as some chocolate in the shape of 5 yen coins or a phone strap, or maybe even a sushi keyring.
I really like the idea of Skoshbox but I thought the contents were somewhat hit and miss. I guess being a seasoned snack reviewer and regular consumer of Japanese snacks, the contents of the box feel a bit "meh" to me, but to someone who is just getting to know Japan, this would be a great introduction.
It's also really good for those who like getting parcels every month, it feels a bit like getting a gift in the mail, especially because it is packaged so beautifully. Skoshbox is the kind of thing I would have liked when I was in high school and just starting to learn Japanese. I feel that it is marketed towards Japanophiles who have an avid interest in everything Japan. My husband said that if he was missing Japanese snacks and he couldn't buy them in his area then he would buy a Skoshbox every month. I guess for Japanese people away from home, this could even help cure homesickness.
On the Skoshbox website you can see what is in each month's box before it is delivered to you. I will be interested to see what comes out each month, and even more so when Skoshbox go international. Who knows? I might even buy one myself. :)
How you can find Skoshbox
- Website: http://skoshbox.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Skoshbox
Here are some other reviews of Skoshbox
**The Skoshbox reviewed here was shipped to me for free by Skoshbox and reviewed honestly and fairly. At the time of writing Skoshbox do not ship internationally but it seems like this might change in future.