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December 2015 Freedom Japanese Market Unboxing
I got invited to do an unboxing and review for a Japanese subscription box called Freedom Japanese Market, which ships Japanese snacks directly from Japan. I enjoy a lot of Japanese foods, so I was excited to see what was in store. What arrived was a box packed full of both savory and sweet snacks along with a cute origami creation.
As I ordinarily do with reviews, I planned to value each item included in this box. However, I found it difficult to source the prices for some of these snacks. I view that as a testament to how the box’s curators sought unique treats from around Japan rather than opting to provide solely the snacks you could already buy in the USA. So instead of judging this box by the dollar amount of the goods included inside, I think it’s more useful to evaluate the quality and quantity of the snacks provided.
The first item I took out of the package (after the origami) was a pouch of Jaga Shio Butter. The flier describes this item as “A mini bag of potato chips flavored like a baked potato: with butter and salt”. Other reviews have cited these chips as being delicious. Unfortunately, they’re one of the items I opted to give away. I wish I’d kept them to try!
The second was a Lifeguard chewy candy similar in design to the Sweet Tarts ropes.The item is described as “a Japanese brand of energy drink in an easy to eat soft candy form.” My body doesn’t respond well to energy drinks, so I was worried about trying this. However, I was craving gummy candy, so I ended up eating it. It tasted good, like an energy drink, and I enjoyed the chewy texture. I couldn’t tell whether it gave me extra energy or not. I had trouble falling asleep last night, but it could’ve been for other reasons.
The third item was a bag of Tamanegi-San Taro. These are described in the pamphlet as “crunchy tater tot shaped onion flavored corn puffs.” I probably would’ve enjoyed these, but I ended up including them in the items to give to others simply by process of elimination (some of the other items sounded better.)
The fourth item was a Butamen cup. This item is described as “a soy sauce based mini cup of instant ramen. Just add boiling water and enjoy!” I thought it was really cool for Freedom Japanese Market to include this type of item in the box because Japan is notorious for noodles (including instant noodles) and you typically don’t see them in Japanese snack boxes.
The fifth item was a Hello Kitty brand lollipop. This item is described as a “peach flavored lollipop containing sunphenon, a natural green tea extract.” I like lollipops and peach flavored sweets, so I kept this for myself, although I haven’t tried it yet. I expect it will taste like an ordinary peach lollipop, but the Hello Kitty branding gives it a special touch.
The sixth item was a bag of Pure Gummy candy. I’ve had Pure Gummy candies before and they’re actually one of my favorite candies from Japan. The item is described as “heart shaped gummy candies with a sweet center, coated with grape flavored sour powder.” I don’t particularly like grape flavored candies, but because I like Pure Gummy candy, I ate them anyway. They were delicious despite being grape flavored.
The seventh item was a bag of Styling Pop porcini & cream cheese flavored popcorn. Its description: “Why settle for butter flavored popcorn when you can try porcini & cream cheese?” It’s such an unusual flavor that I had to give it a try. The cream cheese taste is pretty strong, so I think you’ll enjoy it if you like cream cheese, but hate it if you hate cream cheese. Although I’m a cream cheese lover, I think I prefer butter popcorn, although I’m glad I gave this a shot.
The eighth item was a package of Corn Pottage Umaibo. Its description: “Warm yourself up this winter with a corn soup flavored puffed rice tube!” I’ll admit, I don’t quite get the description because the product itself isn’t warm, even if it’s flavored after something warm (corn soup.) However, I decided to try it anyway. The smell was a bit overwhelming, but the rice tube itself tasted good.
The ninth item was a set of Monster Stamps. The description reads “lick these completely edible stamps and stamp monster marks to your hearts content!” It’s such a cute product that I’ve kept it for myself, although I haven’t tried it yet. I imagine it will have a fruity taste.
The tenth and eleventh items were both little pieces of milk chocolate - one being a Hello Kitty Chocolate, and the other being a Tirol Chocolate. Both items are described merely as being small milk chocolate pieces.
I prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate, but I decided to keep both of these to tame my chocolate cravings. So far I’ve only eaten the Tirol Chocolate. It tasted surprisingly like coffee, which I’m not a fan of. I think there are different flavors of Tirol milk chocolate and it wasn’t labeled as such in the guide. I expect the Hello Kitty chocolate will be pure milk chocolate.
The twelfth item was a packet of Secret Neru Neru DIY. The description reads “Mix the two mystery flavors together to create a cream soda treat!” I appreciated this item because Japanese DIY candies are a great way to combine food with fun, and the Secret Neru Neru DIY is a good representation of this type of Japanese candy. I didn’t keep it for myself, however, because it seemed like it might be messy for my uses. Definitely a fun item that probably tastes good too, though.
The thirteenth item was a pack of the infamous chocolate Pocky! This isn’t ordinary chocolate pocky; it’s a special winter exclusive flavor in which the biscuits are coated with powdered cocoa. As a fan of chocolate pocky, I plan to eat these, but I haven’t had the chance yet.
The fourteenth (!!) and final item was a packet of Ume Pachi. This item is described as “candies that look and taste like pickled plums. Not for the faint of heart!” I’m not a very adventurous eater, so when I was divvying up snacks to keep versus those to give away, I put these in the “give away” pile. However, it seems like an item that would be enjoyed by anyone who gets these types of subscription boxes with the intent of trying new, unique tastes.
All in all, the Freedom Japanese Market contained fourteen different snack items ranging from salty to sweet to savory. I personally would’ve preferred more gummy candies because those are my favorite, but I think Freedom Japanese Market did a good job including a varied selection of different types of snacks. Considering the box costs $25 (including free worldwide shipping), I think it offers a great deal even without tallying the individual item’s prices. What you really get out of a box like this is the curation of treats specific to Japan, including seasonal items like the Pocky. Many of these are difficult to buy individually in the United States or are exclusive to Japan, so getting them through a box like Freedom Japanese Market provides a unique advantage.
If you’re interested in trying Freedom Japanese Market, make sure to write “monthly box hub” in the Notes section of your order to get a free candy included in your first box!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary box in exchange for an honest review.