Eat or Retreat: Zenpop Japan July 2018 Sweets Box Review

Zenpop COVER - Eat or Retreat: Zenpop Japan July 2018 Sweets Box Review

Zenpop Japan sent me this box a few months ago, and just like with the other box I reviewed before, it took me a long time to get this thing together. But here we are now, finally!

Funny story about this subscription box: This is actually the second box they sent me after the first one got delayed in the post office for 8 months. 8 MONTHS! That’s insane right? Many of the products inside that box were past their best before date (but I still ate those that didn’t smell funky) so Zenpop graciously decided to send me another box. So yes, this is a PR box, but this post is not sponsored or paid for. I’m writing this because I think I am not alone in finding subscription boxes fun.

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This second box took a detour to Hong Kong, arriving at my aunt’s doorstep before getting to me. And it took maybe a month and a half? Anyway, I’m sure many of you who have experience in ordering these kinds of things abroad through standard shipping have your own horror stories, but for me, that 8-month delay is an all-time fail. But it could be an isolated case for all I know. My other box arrived after a month!

Anyway, let’s talk about happier things now, starting with the video summary of my feelings towards the Zenpop Japan Sweets Box:


About the Zenpop Japan Sweets Box

Zenpop Japan is a service based in Osaka with the mission to curate selected Japanese goods and compiling them into boxes to be shipped internationally. A subscription box of various Japanese stuff, basically. They don’t just focus on food– they also have Beauty and Stationery Boxes. Makes sense since these are two other things that Japan are famous for, aside from their food and snacks.

I agree when they say that these curated boxes are a great way to share authentic Japanese culture with those who can’t find a way to fly to Japan themselves. It’s a good introduction, and the variety that Zenpop Japan offers in terms of the available categories for their boxes is something I highly appreciate.

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This service is owned by experienced Japanese online shopping site ZenMarket Inc. I’m guessing this is why Zenpop have access to those limited edition goodies they add to every box they send out. A scroll through their website tells me that they are fully familiar with what they’re doing, and they’re meticulous about it too. The website is simple and easy to navigate. You’ll find pretty much any information you need about the box, and even the company.

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Their subscription options are well thought-out, and they don’t set any auto-renewals by default. You have the option to try a box for just one month to see if you’ll like it, and I guess this goes to show how confident they are with their service.

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So the pack they sent me was the Sweets Pack. Just to give you a general idea, here are the things you can expect:

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Each month, Zenpop Japan builds their subscription boxes around a theme. This Sweets Box is called the Summer Chill Pack from July 2018. Again, I am obviously super late in writing this review, but the essence of the box is the same every month so I am going to forgive myself for posting this late haha!

The concept of this particular box is summery sweets you can enjoy when you’re lying back and just chilling under the hot weather. Figuratively, of course. On the printed information paper you can find the full list of products included in the box with some info. I wish they included the market price.

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Let’s take a closer look at each item inside the box, shall we?


Hi-chew Ishigaki Island Pineapple 🌟

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Infused with the rich taste of Okinawa’s Ishigaki Island pineapples, it has a hint of sour behind the sweetness that gives a pleasant tropical aftertaste.

My thoughts: Very sweet chewy candy with a clear pineapple taste. If you don’t mind the taste of artificial pineapple flavor then I think you’ll enjoy this. I mean, we can’t expect candy to taste like the real thing right? I actually liked this because you don’t find a lot of pineapple-flavored chewies.


Puchitto Soda

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Candy balls shaped like soda bubbles and also flavored like soda. Eat by detaching the bubbles or just pop them whole into your mouth.

My thoughts: This was so weird, and yet strangely addictive. The texture reminds me of gum that’s been chewed to that super soft state where it starts to break apart, except these are actually gummies that you CAN swallow. The taste reminds me of grape soda.


Ramune Bottle 🌟

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Ramune Soda-flavored candies inside a soda-shaped bottle. The bottle of this soda is actually iconic for being sealed with a marble, so it makes sense they’d package the candies in a bottle-shaped container too.

My thoughts: These melt-in-your-mouth candy tablets are actually surprisingly good. They have this cooling effect as they melt on your tongue. Oddly refreshing! I have no idea what actual Ramune Soda tastes like, but I can kind of imagine based on the lemon-lime soda taste from these.


Juice-C Color Balls

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Colorful sugar-coated candies flavored in five kinds of fizzy drink: cola, soda, melon soda, lemon soda, and orange soda.

My thoughts: These were some interesting soda-flavored hard candy balls. I enjoyed the green one the most. Admittedly it’s not something I would ever crave for, but I do appreciate that it tastes as described– like a candied version of a fizzy drink.


Hello Kitty Peach Lolly

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Peach-infused lollipop inside a Hello Kitty packaging.

My thoughts: Aside from the cute Hello Kitty packaging, this lollipop is a super normal peach-flavored candy. There’s nothing much else to say really. Give it to your little sister and make her smile!


Unchoco (Poop Chocolate)

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Sweet chocolate nuggets inside cartoon animal boxes that come out, where else? From the animals’ bottoms as “poop”. Creative or odd? You decide.

My thoughts: Kind of a hilarious concept that mostly kids (and kids at heart maybe) will find fun. The candies themselves are quite sweet, with a chocolate center that’s overpowered by that hard fruit-flavored shell. I wish it tasted more like M&M’s, where the chocolate flavor is more dominant.


Orange Marble Gum

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Simple round gums with a bright orange flavor. Designed to be blown into a bubble!

My thoughts: These tiny balls of gum were a surprise. I could actually blow bubbles from them haha! They’re pretty ordinary-tasting though. The orange isn’t too in your face.


Lemon Fettuccine 🌟

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“Al-dente” gummies is the idea behind these “fettuccine” gummies. Infused with a lemon flavor and coated with citrusy powder, this will bring out your sour face!

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My thoughts: First of all, I love sour gummies and it’s so frustrating for me to buy something labeled as sour only to have it NOT taste sour. These though… These are everything I could ever want from a sour gummy! Great texture too! I actually already buy this religiously in different sour flavors whenever I go to Japan so this isn’t new to me. Getting another pack from this box was a bonus!


Mini Home Pie 🌟

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700 layers of pastry is the secret to the crunchy texture of these pie biscuits. They are also made with special mineral water from Mt. Fuji for added deliciousness.

My thoughts: These are quite a treat! Not overly sweet, with pleasant buttery undertones between all those flaky layers. I also really love the CRUNCH of each cookie. So simple and yet so good!


Coconut Pie 🌟

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Toasty, crispy cookies coasted with a sweet coconut white chocolate layer on top. Exclusive to the summer season!

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My thoughts: Probably my favorite sweet discovery from this box. These had a lovely coconut aroma that smelled so good! I loved the crunchy flaky biscuits that held that thin layer of white chocolate flavored with coconut. Yum! By making them thin, these cookies don’t taste too sweet. Instead, they display the full flavor of the coconut chocolate cream perfectly!


Caramel Corn Chocolate Mint 🌟

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Popular corn puff snack Caramel Corn came out with this limited edition mint chocolate flavor. Its signature light and crispy texture makes the minty flavor more enjoyable.

My thoughts: I didn’t know what to expect when I opened this, but I was pleasantly surprised! First, the scent of chocolatey and minty sweetness was quite nice. These puffs are crisp and airy, with nice caramel undertones through the mint and the chocolate. It’s addictive, but because it is also quite sweet, I find that I can’t eat too much in one sitting.


Potato Chips Consomme Punch

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Thin potato chips infused with the umami flavors of meat and vegetables.

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My thoughts: Look at how little was inside this pack. The chips didn’t even reach halfway full! Honestly, these taste like many others I’ve eaten before. Coupled with the fact that it contains such a small amount for the size of its packaging, this was one of my disappointments from the box.


Don Tacos Grilled Corn

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Tastes like a savory and slightly sweet grilled corn with a soy sauce glaze. Also makes a good addition for taco salads or as a crispy component to vegetable salads.

My thoughts: This reminds me of the local chips called Tomi in that it’s a sweet corn type of chip with a crunch reminiscent of nachos. But while Tomi is mostly sweet, this one is sweet but also heavily salty. Making it part of a taco salad is definitely a better idea.


Karu Jaga Umashio 🌟

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Crispy potato sticks that are baked, not fried. These are also lightly salted so that the potato flavor can stand out. The shape makes it easier to munch on.

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My thoughts: These were so good! These are my favorite new SAVORY snack discovery. Tasted like legit potatoes in the form of sticks, only with a good amount of salt. This isn’t something that I recommend finishing in one sitting because it can get REALLY salty, but I will surely buy this the next time I spot it in Japan!


Salad Senbei

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Salad-flavored senbei or rice cracker.

My thoughts: This came to me cracked, but it’s okay. I probably would have cracked it anyway. I have eaten and enjoyed senbei from Japan but this one I did not enjoy. It wasn’t that crunchy and it didn’t taste like much.


Verdict

Since I am not much of a candy person, I think all the candy in this box will appeal more to kids and to those kids at heart with a sweet tooth. The two candies I enjoyed the most were the Ramune Bottle and the Hi-Chew Pineapple. Of course the Lemon Fettuccine has been my favorite for a while so that’s a bonus point for Zenpop Japan!

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Apart from that, I also liked a few of the snacks. The Coconut Pie and the Karu Jaga Umashio were my favorites. The Mini Home Pie was also yum! I thought the Caramel Corn in Mint Chocolate was also really different, though it is a bit too sweet for me.

Taking a step back and looking at the choices within this box, I can’t help but think about how clever it is. Even though one could argue these things can be eaten all-year round, they do seem to have a more summer-y or tropical theme going on. The choices are interesting; and present is the thrill of getting to try limited edition Japanese snacks without even leaving the comfort of your own home.

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All in all, I like the idea of this Zenpop Japan box. I like the variety of the treats and the fact that they built it around a concept. I also really like how they get out of their way to grab limited edition goodies for the subscriber. I just wish they included more savory snacks or bigger snacks rather than these little candies.

I’m not sure if the cost of the box as a whole is cheaper than the price of each individual component put together, but for USD 25, I think the mixed box with the Ramen would be more worth it for my personal taste.

~~~

Full disclosure: I was sent a PR package by Zenpop Japan for review. All opinions reflected in this post are my own.

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