It’s a new year and there’s a new Japan Crate to start it. January 2023 has started off well with a subscription box full of interesting Japanese candy and treats.
If you didn’t catch our post about the Xmas 2022 Japan Crate, as a quick recap they send out a box with 18-20 Japanese snacks on a monthly basis. These always include a Japanese-only drink and Japanese KitKats. The KItkats are well-known enough that I even had someone who knows nothing about Japan ask me about them recently when I mentioned I lived there briefly.
The Japan crates may be themed and this one’s theme is New Year. This all said, they’re launching something called ‘Japan Crate 2.0’ soon, so we’ll see what changes next month brings soon.
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Vinegar and Caramel Chips
As with last month, two of the larger items are bags of potato chips and similar. In this case some Vinegar Chips and Salty Caramel Puffs.
The Vinegar Chips are a product by Koikeya. Described as ‘sour’, even just opening the packet, I could smell how strong they are. They taste it too; I certainly had to eat them slowly. There’s no grabbing a handful here, it’s savoring each chip one by one. I thoroughly enjoyed them.
The Salty Caramel Puffs again from Koikeya were an interesting experience. It’s the first time I’ve had a caramel-flavored snack like this. They were nice and crunchy, being denser than most ‘puffs’. Caramel was certainly the stronger flavor here, especially noticably through the smell. A mild salt taste was present though.
The Japan Crate January 2022 contained seven items that I’d classify as ‘small candies’, and I was certainly pleased with them all.
Perhaps the smallest was the Tokyo Revengers Chewing Gum – last month’s drink featured the same anime – I guess someone at Japan Crate is a fan! It’s energy drink flavored apparently, which seemed like a pleasant and strong fruity taste to me. I opened it to find an illustration inside, along with some writing. Peeling back another layer revealed the gum itself and a paper with more writing. I’m guessing it might’ve been a joke and punchline or similar.
The Acorn Gum Cola is a hard candy outer shell that crunches into a burst of sweetness when getting to the gum center. I found the candy part lasts quite a while. It was a nice taste, similar to a generic cola.
Next are the Panda mints, which feature a rather cute panda design on the front. It felt a little sad to essentially be ripping its face off to access the deliciousness underneath! When I did, it revealed about 50 tiny sky-blue spheres, about 2mm wide each, which were some slightly sweet mints.
Following up with more mints is the pack of Delivery Car Strawberry Mint. It was interesting to see the actual packaging shaped like a Japanese delivery van. Unfolding it revealed a package of small pink spheres within. These were an interesting flavor. It’s mostly strawberry, but I could taste the subtle mint underneath too.
The Orion Mini Fresh Ramune look like small mints, but they’re actually ramune-flavored, which is the famous Japanese lime-lemon soda with a marble in the neck of the bottle. They had quite a strong taste when bitten, despite their small size.
I was surprised by the Whistle Gum. It’s three pieces of gum shaped like circles with a hole in them. They have a chalky exterior that easily breaks away to a soft fruity gum center. Blowing through the hole makes a whistling noise, which worked really easily. I didn’t think it was going to work.
Finally in the ‘small candies’ section is the Petit Fortune Strawberry Milk. They come in what looks like a Foil Pouch for medicine. Perhaps appropriately – chocolate does make me feel better. They’re chocolate balls with a tasty strawberry milk coating, which was the stronger flavor by far here. It was nice having these as individual ones to pop out. Apparently, there’s some kind of fortune-reading element to this, but it was beyond my Japanese skills sadly.
Slightly Bigger Candies – Chews and Chocolate
The next six are slightly bigger, with a mix of packs and individual treats.
Gabrichu Soft Cola is a relatively soft chew bar, unlike some which can be difficult to eat. It had a mild cola taste, unlike the local versions which I find overly sweet and sometimes difficult to chew.
The next chew is the Long Chew Cider. It’s ‘Cider flavor’, which may need a little explanation. Cider in a lot of east Asia refers to a lemon-lime soda, similar to Sprite. In the US this refers to an apple drink or an alcoholic apple drink in the UK. The bubblegum-blue-colored chew was harder than the cola one, to the point that I was snapping off segments.
Seeing Koala’s March in the January 2023 Japan Crate was a little surprising. These are available to me locally, so it’s somewhat less of a rare treat. That said, I do like them quite a lot. They’re small koala-shaped cookies, with pictures of koalas doing things like playing games or relaxing on the beach. The pack has quite a lot of cookies inside which have a crunchy shell with a delicious chocolate taste within.
Following with more chocolate is the Chocolate Ice Cream Marshmallow. It has a soft cone, under a marshmallow topping with sprinkles and sugar. Inside is more marshmallow surrounding a strong-tasting chocolate filling inside the cone.
The Maple Butter Chocolate was an interesting experience. It’s dark chocolate, with a powerful taste of maple syrup. Being extremely sweet, it was too much for me personally. It crumbled apart nicely when biting into it.
Another interesting one is the Chocolate Chestnut which isn’t a flavor I often come across. It smells very much like chestnut, though the actual taste of it in the chocolate is quite mild. I enjoyed slowly snacking on these, leaving them to melt in my mouth.
While the Maple Butter Chocolate and Chocolate Chestnut were certainly interesting, a few things always seem to stand out the most as something new to try in a Japan Crate. This is the section for these.
The Sumikko Gurashi Purunchuchu has a long name for something quite simple; jelly powder, a mold, and a little cardboard display piece. Following the instructions in the booklet that Japan Crate provides to explain all of the items gave me a little jelly character in about thirty minutes. I say simple, but I almost dropped it several times. I enjoyed having a little project to make the jelly and the Sumikko Gurashi characters are cute.
The Kitkats are always a treat. This time it was ‘Kitkat Coffee Break’, which are a bar of very slightly sweet dark chocolate, with a Nescafé Gold Blend flavor leaving that mild coffee aftertaste. Not being too sweet, I easily ended up eating several from the pack at the same time, before sharing the rest.
Finally is the Skal Energy Drink. One thing I appreciate about Japan Crate is the unique experiences it can give, but I admit I was apprehensive when I read ‘carbonated milk-based soda’. Surprisingly, it had a mild and pleasant (if unidentifiable) taste at first, though a bit of an odd aftertaste. Fortunately, it tasted nothing like milk, though looks translucent white out of the can.
Ordering Japan Crate?
The Japan Crate comes at $49.95 per month, with discounts if you prepay. At the time of writing, there appears to be a 25% discount for first-timers too. Despite it saying it needs to calculate delivery, that’s also noted as free and came up as such when I tried, which is good considering that international delivery is certainly pricey.
Aside from the one noted, these were all items that I’d not be able to get in my country easily, if at all. It included some quite interesting items too, along with similar but different items to some found locally. It does give that unique experience.
Many thanks go to Japan Crate/Sugoi Mart for sending out a sample for this feature.
You may also be interested in checking out our look at the Sugoi Mart Anime Set.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.