Welcome to what I have to assume will be the longest JFB review ever written! We’ve got 25 snacks to cover, here. Don’t worry, there will be lots of pictures and we’re all going to learn some new things!
I’ve been excited ever since I heard about MunchPak back in October of last year. In their own words, “MunchPak is our solution to provide the average person with a monthly variety pack of the best and most popular snacks and treats from all over the world. Unlike other subscription boxed services, MunchPak aims to provide our subscribers with the best and tastiest snacks, as opposed to just the ‘healthiest’.”
This last part may confuse you, but I’m pretty sure MunchPak is making a jab at Graze. Graze operates off the same principles as MunchPak, but they offer healthy items such as seeds, nuts and dried fruits. They’ve been operating out of the UK for some time, and I was lucky enough to get a very early invite to the US beta of Graze.
It’s fun, but as MunchPak points out, it’s also very healthy, and does not offer anything brand name. As you might guess, the idea of having international, brand name junk food delivered to my door was something I was mighty interested in.
MunchPak sent me a sample to review, and it did not disappoint in quantity or variety.
Some will have few words and only packaging pictures; this is just too big to get into everything. I’m going to assume Americans are familiar with some of these; I apologize to my international audience, but to be fair, MunchPak is made for US residents.
You might notice something missing – the Herr’s Ketchup Potato Chips. I have no idea where that bag went. My only two guesses are that one of my cats managed to get in the box and drag it off to some hidden location, or I got drunk and ate them and forgot I did so. The latter seems more likely.
Anyways, it looks like the rest survived, so let’s get down to business!
Chex Mix Traditional
A classic. Can’t go wrong here.
Gardetto’s Original Recipe Snack Mix
Another classic. Gardetto’s also makes bags that contain nothing but their Roasted Garlic Rye Chips, which I think is genius because those are obviously the best part of their Snack Mix.
de la Rosa Peanut Candy Marzypan Style
Here we have our first international offering. De la Rosa is a Mexican candy company, and I see them often on store shelves. MunchPak just so happens to be based out of Scottsdale, AZ, which is about a ten minute drive from where I live, so I know for a fact they’ve got easy access to Mexican treats.
Despite the availability, I rarely sample any of these goods. There’s no particular reason for this; I’ve just never gotten around to it. This is one of the reasons why I love the idea of MunchPak so much – I might see these things on store shelves every day, but never bother trying them if it weren’t for MunchPak.
This Peanut Candy Marzypan (I love that spelling so much) Style is like deconstructed peanut butter. As soon as it hits your saliva, it turns into a sugary peanut powder.
I can’t say I’ve ever had such a candy experience before. Neither the sugar nor the peanut are overpowering, but the texture is super interesting. I can’t say I’m in love with it, but it was definitely unique.
Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Bar
I used to really dislike milk chocolate, and when Hershey’s came out with this candy bar, I was over the moon about it. I’ve since expanded my horizons, but I’m still fond of Cookies ‘n’ Creme, with its white chocolate and little chocolate crunchy balls.
Meiji Hello Panda Biscuits with Milk Cream
Hello Panda is a Japanese candy, in case you couldn’t guess. This box is adorable.
Sports I was able to identify: sailing, shouting into a megaphone?, fencing, being a pirate with a scimitar?, parasailing, kayaking, rollerblading, playing basketball with a baseball, golfing, hockey, lacrosse, skateboarding, and what I can only describe as “boogie-ing”.
That’s a crazy fucking variety of prints! I’m totally impressed, Hello Panda, even if some of these don’t really seem like sports. Golf, for example. Heh heh heh.
As for the taste, it’s kind of like a thin vanilla Teddy Graham filled with some knockoff Oreo creme. I feel like I’m not really nailing it there, but I tried.
Pop-Tarts Strawberry Toaster Pastry
Hey, it’s Strawberry Pop-Tarts! Okay!
Unknown Asian Rice Cracker Thingies
What you see is what you get, here. Puffy cracker…things in a clear package, with three symbols on them, presumably Japanese? There’s no way for me to even look this up. If you know what these wrappers say, I’d love to hear it in the comments.
How do I describe this thing? It was very crunchy, like a dense rice cracker. It was not sweet; it had a somewhat earthy flavor to it. It tasted foreign. I wish I had better words for it. Seaweed? Some sort of bizarre curry? I’m at a loss. The one thing I do know is that I would not like to see this in future MunchPaks.
CornNuts BBQ Crunchy Corn Kernels
CornNuts are one of those snacks that I feel I’m too adult to be eating. Like, it was okay to eat them as a kid, but no respectable adult actually eats them. I’m pretty sure that’s a weird thing to think, but I will also say that as an older person with bad teeth, I’m terrified that they will break my mouth. Seriously, CornNuts are hard.
Imagine every BBQ-flavored chip/sunflower seed/whatever other snack, and you know the flavor of these CornNuts, although I will say the BBQ powder is nicely understated.
Morinaga Hi-Chew Grape Fruit Chews
Hi-Chew is Japanese in origin and was apparently created in 1931 by a guy who wanted to find a way to make swallowable gum because taking food out of your mouth is considered impolite in Japan. I guess the whole “Want some ABC gum?” joke doesn’t go over well there. Also, I’m pretty sure everything is considered impolite in Japan.
Anyways, that’s a pretty cool origin story, and apparently more than 113 flavors have been created over the years.
I got grape.
The texture of Hi-Chew was unlike any other chewy candy I’ve had. It was like a mix between a Starburst and a gummy bear. It lasted a little while, like the former, but was also springy and wanted to stick to itself, like the latter. Very interesting.
I wasn’t too fond of the grape flavor – it reminded me a little too much of grape-flavored medicine.
Snyder’s of Hanover Peanut Butter Pretzel Sandwiches
Here’s another common snack that I’ve never bothered to try. Peanut butter pretzel sandwiches are completely pedestrian, but I’ve never had Snyder’s before. Frankly, the whole cracker/pretzel sandwich thing reminds me of elementary school day care. But if you’re looking for a high-quality snack sandwich, I would say Snyder’s is the way to go.
de la Rosa Japanese Cocktail Peanuts
de la Rosa Japanese Cocktail Peanuts are vying for “favorite MunchPak snack” before I even taste them for several reasons: first off, they’re Japanese peanuts made by a Mexican snack company. So multicultural! Also, what the hell is a cocktail peanut? I can’t wait to find out!
Third and most obvious:
I have never seen a happier pair of semi-racist peanuts. I wish I could find that much joy in my life, and I’m an easily amused person.
So, if these are any indication, cocktail peanuts are peanuts with a salty, crunchy coating that actually has very little flavor, unless you count peanut. This basically makes them peanuts+. Could definitely see having a beer with these.
Those two words are the only things I know about this, without doing any research. That is all the package had to say. I assumed it was a candy. That was all.
According to Wikipedia, this is a “milk chocolate-covered biscuit bar filled with chocolate cream”. They were apparently created in Glasgow, which is in Scotland, just in case you failed geography. My first Scottish snack!
Actually, there’s one more thing – each wrapper comes with a joke! Are you ready for some laffos?
Q: What do you call a happy Penguin?
A: A Pen-Grin
I kind of love you already, Penguin.
The bar was basically a chocolate-covered chocolate wafer. Despite being chocolate-on-chocolate, it was actually very light, airy and not too rich or overwhelming. Way to go, Penguin!
I also really, really want to buy a case of Penguin bars just so I can read all the penguin-related jokes. Really. Really.
Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats Marshmallow Square
Another pedestrian offering. And yet, the moment I saw it, I said to myself, you know what, I do want a Rice Krispies Treat! This is perfect.
Observant me, at first I thought this was some bizarre blank packaging. And then I saw, “A wrapper you can write on!”
How adorable is that for a mom making her kid’s lunch? Screw Post-It notes when you can write on a Rice Krispies Treat!
Marinela Barritas fresa Strawberry Filled Cookies
These guys be Mexican in origin.
I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I tried one, but when I opened the package, I was instantly reminded of Tactical Sammich, which is something you never want to be reminded of when you’re supposedly eating a strawberry cookie.
In reality, these things have the exact taste and texture of a Strawberry Fig Newton, which I guess are technically Strawberry Newtons. Another snack I haven’t had in forever. Verdict: yum.
The Original Cracker Jack
Another classic. But there is one thing that always makes Cracker Jacks unique…
SCORE! A motherfuckin’ temporary tattoo. The best of all Cracker Jack prizes, in my opinion. Now, back in my day, you got a a whole booklet of the things, but I will accept Underbite Swashbuckle, He of Ye One Gold Tooth. Swashbuckle rules. If I were still in school, he’d be plastered on my cheek tomorrow. And we’re talking college, here.
De la Rosa Pulparindo Hot and Salted Tamarind Pulp Candy
Tamarind is a popular candy flavor in Mexico. I’m pretty sure I’ve never tasted it before. It has a Wikipedia page that is as intimidating in length as tamarind itself is in looks. The words “hot and salted” are a little scary, too, but this is all about new things and adventure.
It was like a short, thick Fruit Roll-Up, and also the stickiest candy I have ever encountered. The instant my fingers touched it, they could touch nothing else without leaving a gross residue.
It was easy to chew and the sugar quickly disintegrated, but I am apparently not fucking man enough for Mexican candy.
It tasted like a sugary, salty piece of soft taffy made entirely of chili powder. Hogod. I don’t feel comfortable calling it terrible, because I know tamarind candy is crazy popular in the Mexican community and I think I’m just experiencing culture shock. But my mouth was not ready for a chili powder Fruit Roll-Up. The more it sat in there melting, the more I thought, hmmm, maybe I could get used to this. But for now? Whoo.
Nutella Hazelnut Spread with Skim Milk & Cocoa
I’ve never had Nutella. I’ve been told that puts me in the minority. I’ve also been told you’re supposed to spread it on toast, but I decided to just dunk my finger right in there, like the classy lady I am. Listen, I’m going through 25 snacks, here. I don’t have time for things like toast.
Also, look at that little package! It’s adorable! It’s like a single serving jam, but somehow even less healthy!
I’m not gonna get all into how it tasted since I’m guessing most Americans already know. I will say, however, that it is delicious, and I have been missing out. Thank you for educating me, MunchPak!
Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread
In case you couldn’t tell by the “this is my fancy kilt” packaging, Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread are made in Scotland.
And I have to say, what happened, Scotland? You did so well with the Penguin Original Bar, but this is a total disaster. It tasted like a buttery, slightly salty dog biscuit. While I’d like to pretend I’ve never had a Milk Bone before, I’m almost positive that I tried one during my curious youth, and I’m really not far off, here.
There’s only four ingredients: wheat flour, sugar, butter, and salt, but I think they switched the order around. I’m pretty sure sugar belongs last on this list. Blech. Woof.
Marukawa Strawberry Bubble Gum
This is a Japanese gum. The box is adorably small – only a little bit bigger than a quarter. You could easily forget and leave it in your pocket, resulting in a laundry disaster that I have experienced firsthand and is entirely unpleasant.
I would have made Marukawa Bubble Gum the gum of choice for my Barbie dolls back in my childhood days.
Each piece of gum is round and a little smaller than a Lemonhead, which means you’ll have to toss all four pieces into your mouth if you want anything close to a normal amount of gum.
It had a pleasant artificial strawberry with an odd hint of mint.
The texture was also very weird – the balls had a shiny coating, but that quickly gave way to the feeling that the gum was going to fall apart in my mouth at any second. Have you ever made the mistake (as a kid, hopefully) of trying to eat chocolate and gum at the same time? That was the sensation I felt, except it just baaaarely kept holding itself together. It did blow a pretty good bubble, though.
It’s bizarre to actually feel something new in the way of gum, but this certainly qualifies for me, so at least there’s that.
I’ve never had a Chick-O-Stick, but it seems like one of those candies that have always been around. According to this very narrow package, it is “Crunchy Peanut Butter and Toasted Coconut Candy”.
What does this have to do with chicks? Not a damn clue.
I’m not that fond of coconut, but of course I was going to give it a try. They’ve been around since the Great Depression, so something must be going right for them.
Holy shit are Chick-O-Sticks bright orange. But you know what? It turns out their taste and texture is almost exactly like that of a Butterfinger! I was very pleasantly surprised.
There is a faint aftertaste of coconut, but the Butterfinger-esque flavor is so strong that I really didn’t mind it, and the two went pretty well together. Lesson: don’t be scared of snacks, kids!
Marinela Gansito Filled Snack Cake
As you may have guessed, this is a product of Mexico. Apparently, “gansito” translates to “little goose”, which explains the mascot. But does anyone else think he looks like he’s barely escaping a lawsuit from Disney for looking like Scrooge McDuck’s nephews? Just sayin’.
Honestly, this was pretty disappointing. I guess the best I could describe it is as a generic knock-off chocolate-covered Twinkie. The chocolate covering tastes cheap, and the sprinkles on top add nothing. The sponge cake inside is okay, but the cream tastes slightly off. Just overall mildly disappointing.
Toxic Waste Sour Smog Balls
This candy comes with a story on the back of the package! I already love it. Here it is! This is the longest story I’ve ever seen on a candy package!
THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. SMOGG
“Dr. Igor Smogg is a wealthy industrialist who made his fortune in heavy manufacturing. But his methods are wasteful and produce lots of toxic by-products, which he disposes of in environmentally irresponsible ways. His latest scheme is to pump massive amoutns of toxic smog into the atomosphere from the smokestacks of his factory. Once airborn, the pollution will condese into particles of solid waste and rain down upon the unsuspecting countryside.
“Fortunately, Professor Sauernoggin is on the case! Sauernoggin has dedicated his life to finding ways to transofmr toxic waste into good and useful products. Once blast from his [unreadable] ‘Smog-o-matic’ ray gun and the cloud will rain down delicious sour candy balls…an outcome Dr. Smogg is less than pleased about!”
Whew! That’s quite the backstory!
Toxic Waste Sour Smog Balls are Crunchy Candy with a Sour Chewy Center and come in blue raspberry, strawberry, lemon, grape, lime and cherry. Way to not fall for the green apple trend, Toxic Waste!
I dunno if I’d call the center “chewy”, exactly. More like “fall apart-y”. The sour level is what I’d call middlin’. It’s one of those novelty candies for the kids that delivers more in fun than in taste. But how can you not love Dr. Igor Smogg and Professor Sauernoggin?
Wow. We’re done. I dunno about you, but I’m exhausted. I obviously didn’t sample all these in one day; I’m not even sure that would be possible.
MunchPak offers a Mini version and a FamilyPak, and you can get it delivered monthly, bi-weekly or weekly. If I were rich, I would get a weekly family pack, but I’ve instead opted for the Original MunchPak delivered monthly for $20.20. It seems like all these snacks actually add up to more than that if you were to buy them separately, which is cool.
I got my first paid-for MunchPak before I finished this review, and I am so happy to report that my one fear was completely unfounded. I thought perhaps I’d wind up getting the same things month after month, but my two MunchPaks are completely different from each other. This excites me to no end. Seriously.
I really, really love MunchPak. I think it’s a great idea and it’s fun as hell. If you spend any amount of time in the snack aisles of the convenience store, I highly, highly recommend this.
Oh my god we’re done.
[Disclaimer: Junk Food Betty received this product free from MunchPak. This is no way compromises the integrity of my review.]