Review: Universal Yums! (Guest Blog by @robxlii) & I’m Off To The Summer Fancy Food Show!
JFG Nation, it’s Friday, and that means tomorrow at the crack of dawn, I leave for NYC and the Summer Fancy Food Show. If you don’t know what that is yet, well, watch the video on the right hand column of this screen. JUST WATCH IT.
Like past years, follow me on Instagram, Twitter @junkfoodguy, or Facebook to see ALL of the goodies I’ll be eating. A preview of things I’ll be looking for specifically: Blood Orange Olive Oil Brownies. Vegan Hot Fudge. Carrot Cake Jam. Yeah, you read that right, people. CARROT. CAKE. SPREADABLE. JAM. A spread that makes your toast taste like CARROT CAKE??? *MIND EXPLOSION*
Anyways, follow me. It’ll be fun, I promise! (I reserve the right to break promises.)
Meanwhile, today’s post features another subscription snack box service called Universal Yums! Launched in 2014, Universal Yums is a little different than other services because they tailor each box by country/region. For example, April was Scandinavia and May was Israel. I’d reviewed MunchPak before, and KarePax, so why NOT give some equal opportunity run to Universal Yums?
Today’s blog post is brought to you by my friend Rob L., who also tagged along at this last year’s Summer Fancy Food Show. Enjoy his experience with UNIVERSAL YUMS! We’ll circle back after the post.
“Shalom, Shalom from Israel!” exclaims the glossy, oversized informational card that sits atop the cache of snacks I’ve procured from Universal Yums because I will review anything for anyone if I’m paid in delicious snack food.
The Hebrew shalom translates to “peace” in English. Are the Universal Yums folks suggesting a new, junk-food-based framework by which to solve the Middle East problem? It’s right there in the name – universal. (And yums, which has no translation into any language and thus belongs to the whole world.)
The card continues, with “famous landmarks” (read: reasons to go to war) that might come to mind when thinking about Israel – the Kotel (Wailing Wall), the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, to name a few. It also adds a “Did You Know?” section:
“AOL Messenger, seedless watermelons, and voicemail technology were invented in Israel.” OK, the Israelis have cornered the market on 1990s fads, nice going. But how are their snacks?
(JFG edit: I like the card explaining what every snack is. GREAT TOUCH, UNIVERSAL YUMS! Seriously, I love this.)
• Original Bamba: The helpful “infotainment” card says the following about Bamba: “the low number of peanut allergies among Israeli children can be directly associated to high consumption of Bamba at a young age.” I’m not totally comfortable with getting medical advice from a snack company, but whatever, because this ish is delish.
They’re shaped and textured a lot like the old Planters’ Cheez Curls (which, hey, Mr. Peanut, bring those back!), but coated with a surprisingly real, not-too-sweet peanut butter coating instead of radioactive orange dust.
These are seriously tasty. Universal Yums, you’re off to a good start.
• Bamba with Hazelnut filling: OK, take original Bamba and inject some hazelnut cream into each of them. Voila, you have Bamba with hazelnut filling. Not trying to undersell it here, because these are good as can be, but it’s really just a variation on the Bamba theme. (As opposed to a variation on the “La Bamba” theme, in which Richie Valens tells you how to eat your snacks in Spanish. “Para comer la Bamba…”)
• Toffee Fruit Chews: The card instructs me to “look at the cute little faces on the packaging.” I think the interests of readers are better served by removing the wrapper and eating the delicious taffy (to me, toffee is strictly caramel-based) inside. I’m a New Englander, and these are close to salt water taffy, except soft enough that they won’t rip out my dentures.
• Elite Hazelnut Chocolate Bar: Elite, eh? Probably went to Princeton and supports Obama.
This is a mini version of a full-sized bar, which is a lot like “a Snickers bar with hazelnuts instead of peanuts.” To me, it was more of a cross between a Milky Way and a Snickers. Whereas Snickers is packed with peanuts, this bar had fewer nuts, making for a slightly creamier experience. Really tasty.
Has anyone ever described an experience as “creamy”? You’re welcome, SEO trolls.
• Pinuki Cola Dragees: Mentos meets cola, and no, not like in those YouTube videos. Imagine if you popped a Mentos in your maw, and instead of the Freshmaker, you tasted a solid ball of Coke.
These took some getting used to, like buttered popcorn Jelly Bellys or driving on the left side of the road. They weren’t horrible, but these Dragees paled in comparison to what was in the rest of the box.
• PesekZman Chocolate Bar: Our cardboard guide informs me that this name translates to “time out,” so all you parents out there now have a new way to scare your kids into behaving. “Julie, quit antagonizing your sister or I’m going to give you a pesek zman” should bring the most obstinate child to heel. Unless she understands Hebrew.
First thing I noticed – more hazelnuts! This box is a veritable orgy of Corylus avellana. The PesekZman bar comes across like a better Caramello; a chocolate bar with a wafer and hazelnut filling inside. 10/10, would eat again.
• Original Bissli (smokey): The info card says that “Bissli” is a portmanteau of two words, the Yiddish “bis,” meaning “bite,” and the Hebrew “li,” meaning “for me.” I choose to translate the full name, then, as “Bite Mine.” Which strikes me as a much better insult than “bite me.”
This flavor Bissli looks an awful lot like petrified rigatoni, but tastes much better. A very mild but pleasant smokey taste, plus a hefty crunch. Nothing about the flavor is overwhelming, which is probably why I ate the entire giant bag in one sitting.
• Falafel Bissli: Same concept as smokey Bissli, except a completely different shape.
These look exactly like Fiber One cereal, which provoked a flashback to a childhood full of health foods. Fortunately, as with the smokey Bissli, these are delicious. And they capture the falafel flavor really well, too.
• B&B Sesame Pretzel Sticks: The packaging is about as plain as it gets, so under-designed it looks like a knockoff of a store brand. The good news is that this bag is chock full of delicious pretzels that, sneakily, are covered with sesame seeds instead of coarse salt. I wasn’t convinced – I assumed that all of the sesame would be overwhelming – but I ate the whole bag in one sitting. And the bag is huge; I don’t know what retail packaging in Israel is like, but if this is it, we might be able to end the strife by making every resident too fat to fight.
• Kif Kef Chocolate Bar: The card says “it looks like a Kit-Kat, it sounds like a Kit-Kat, but does it taste like a Kit-Kat?”
Uh. Yes. Exactly like a Kit-Kat. Is there any way this isn’t just a Kit Kat? (Let’s ignore the trademark implications here.) I certainly can’t tell the difference – and that’s fine, because Kit-Kats are awesome.
• Marble Sesame Halva Bar: This might be the most polarizing snack in the box, based on a sample size of two (me, my girlfriend). I was immediately delighted by both the texture and taste, and excitedly gave some to my better half. The face she made was…not positive, let’s just say that. But this is a woman who grew up eating quinoa before anyone in America knew how to spell quinoa, and for whom “junk food” meant “carob chips,” so I’m being charitable when I say her sweet tooth might be slightly miscalibrated.
• Elite Popping Milk Chocolate Bar: It’s almost your typical milk chocolate bar, divided into squares, except that each square contains something that isn’t that far off from Pop Rocks. Which makes for a really unique mouthfeel – velvety chocolate ripped through by little popping candies. (I did not try this with soda.)
The only way this candy could be more awesome is if the chocolate were both popping and locking.
This snack subscription service hits it out of the park. Though it’s a little on the pricey side – $25/month (with a 6-month subscription) for my Yum Yum Box, which includes at least 13 items, $13 for the Yum box, which contains at least 6 – nearly everything inside was delicious. And they certainly don’t skimp on quantity; only one of the items appeared to be “fun size.” (Note to marketers: you know what’s fun about tiny portions of candy? NOTHING.)
PURCHASED AT: Pricing and other info regarding the subscription service can be found here.
COST: $13 vs $25 per box
And that’s Rob’s review! First, thank you, Rob, for writing the review, and you can always follow him on Twitter @robxlii. Second, DAMNIT THIS BOX LOOKED REALLY GOOD. Grumble – why did I have them send YOU the box, Rob? Grrr. Third, thanks again to Universal Yums for the chance to review the goods!
Alrighty, that’s all for this week, JFG Nation. I’m off to New York! Hit me up on Twitter, peeps. Be easy.
Junk Food Guy