Japan Crate is one of a growing number of services that, for a monthly subscription fee, deliver a box filled with Japanese snacks and candy to your front door. This is pretty much everything anyone needs.
When Japan Crate approached me back in September to try out a box from their service, I thought it was a great idea. I could check out the assortment sent, weigh each one’s relative merits and see if I felt what I received was a good value. To do this, I would have to overcome my natural adoration of any company willing to send me Japanese snacks for money. It’s harder than it sounds.
Japan Crate is a top contender in replacing my normal Japanese snacks-by-mail service, Mr. Brian Ashcraft of Kotaku. The problem with Ashcraft’s service is that while we keep talking about him bringing or mailing me snacks, he’s never actually done it. Come to think of it, Luke Plunkett has never sent my Australian licorice. I’ve worked with these people for nearly eight years.
Alternatively, I’ve purchased Japanese candy online. Generally I’ve turned to a site like JBox for my bulk snack purchases, as I am ticked by a company that sells both Kit Kats and pornography.
But that’s when I know what I want in Japanese candy, which I rarely do. I need someone to choose for me. Japan Crate offered.
The company offers three tiers of boxes. There’s the half pound mini, featuring four to six candies for $12 a month, the one pound original box with eight to twelve candies for $25 a month, and the premium two pound box packed with ten to fourteen snacks.
I was sent the original box, or at least the original box before the company switched over to the three tier system. Let’s see what was inside.
A nice assortment of stuff to put in my mouth for $25, though a couple of the selections struck me as odd or particularly lazy. Let’s look at some of the highlights.
Street Fighter Energy Drink
A tiny energy drink can featuring Street Fighter branding. Tastes like any number of generic energy drinks, because it is any number of generic energy drinks.
This is one of those lazy ones I was talking about.
Strawberry Coated Hello Kitty Pretzel Sticks
If you’re going to put a Pocky-type product in my box of exotic goods, maybe do a flavor that I can’t find at Walmart.
Chelsea Yogurt Hard Candies
Now this is more like it. One of my favorite bits of the box, these yogurt-flavored candies taste, to my decidedly-Western mouth, a whole lot like cream soda Dum-Dum pops, only slightly more refined and creamy. I could eat these all day long, if my wife’s dog hadn’t torn them apart on my office carpet, that bastard.
Furuta Sequoia Matcha Chocolate Biscuit Bar
A cookie covered in a thick layer of Matcha green tea chocolate. To me, this tasted like grass. To my wife, a big fan of how Japan interprets green tea in candy, it tasted of heaven. The bar disappeared quickly.
Kabaya Saku Saku Panda
Japan does not skimp on the chocolate part of their chocolate covered cookies.
These were rather glorious, though they don’t look like much. A thick layer of white and milk chocolate on a light cookie. And I mean a really thick later, with more chocolate than cookie. It’s like they are from a foreign country or something.
Flavor Burst Bubblegum
Japan’s idea of gum is much softer than ours. These lovely spheres consist of a doughy exterior with a flavored center. They were so wonderful, with a burst of what I imagined was some sort of ginger or citrus flavor, that I consumed the entire package even after realizing this stuff sticks to my dental work like crazy glue.
Meiji Cake Fruit Gummy
An entire gummy berry bush, because why not?
Japan’s gummi candy is always delightful. Light and fruity with distinctive flavors, always just the right amount of give. I could certainly do with more of this.
And Then There Was The Do-It-Yourself Kit
Do-It-Yourself candy is almost its own market it Japan. These special kits give you colored powder and the basic tools needed to make your own replica candy food. In this case, a bento box.
Other varieties include donuts or ice cream, but no — I wound up with the bento box, the most complicated of them all.
These kits require more finesse than I possess. A video URL was included with the package, demonstrating how to properly craft the snack.
Here’s what mine ended up looking like:
I am not good at DIY candy. Look, the carrot is yellow, and the egg (I think) is orange! I suck.
This initial Japan Crate shipment was a good start, with a lovely variety of snacks capable of pleasing both my and my wife’s completely different tastes. There were a couple of lazy additions, most notably the energy drink from Boston, but on the whole I am satisfied with what we received.
What I would like to see from Japan Crate is an option to opt out of certain candy types, which is tough when your business model consists of packing and shipping identical boxes. It’s just not that sort of service and besides, if I wanted to be picky, I’d just order my candy individually.
While Japan Crate has plans to open an online store where customers can individually purchase select items, their subscription service is about the thrill of going on a Japanese candy adventure with a blindfold on. Trust me, I know about blindfolds — apparently I was wearing one while trying to put together that bento box.