Sunday, September 21, 2014

Subscription Boxes part 2

I am continuing my journey through the world of subscription boxes.  Most of the ones I received in this round were food-orientated.  I'm not sure if that has to do with the initial list that I made or if it accurately reflects the larger proportion of food items available in this manner or if the food boxes are simply mailed more quickly.
Graze - the second box.

First, I received my second shipment from  This one had four new snacks in it.  I've now tried 4 of the 8 snacks (overall) that they have sent. I really liked one - the super berry detox - which had a new food to me goji berries.  One was REALLY not for me - sour cream and onion cashews - this was a bit of a surprise since I've always liked cashews and also sour cream and onion potato chips.  The combination of the cashews and the flavoring didn't work for me though.  The other two I felt more neutral ranging to positive.  The fruit and seed flapjack (something like a chewy granola bar only more moist) tasted good, but I wouldn't go out of my way to purchase it alone.   The jalapeno fiesta mix was good; I like the combination and the spice level was just on for my tastes.  However, I'm eating these snacks at work and felt very self-conscious about my breath after eating this one.  I'm actually looking forward to trying the last four items this company has sent - I'm just trying to pace myself to make them last until the next box comes.
The Hatchery Box - nice packaging

My next box was the largest personal disappointment so far.  After watching Nina open her TasteTrunk box, I had high hopes for the Hatchery box I ordered for myself.  However, after poking through the contents (none of which I've been inspired to use yet), I've come to the conclusion that I'm not really a foodie.  This box contained sample sizes of paella spice mix, tea seed oil, mango habanero jam, bbq sauce, white truffle mayonnaise, and salted vanilla caramel sauce.  Only one recipe was included - for the caramel sauce which I thought was one of the easiest items to use without a recipe.  I went on the website hoping to find recipes for the other items - particularly the tea seed oil since I'm not familiar with it - and the recipes are not organized so I gave up. Since the guide sheet in the box listed 2 ideas to use each item, I had expected to see those recipes listed, but I couldn't find them.
Horatio looks at the Hatchery items

The cost of this box was slightly less than TasteTrunk - $25 with shipping as compared to $29 - and there was one more item but all the items were considerably smaller in size.  If an individual was truly a foodie (as we just established I am not), this could be an exciting way to find new companies.  All of the products were made in the USA; four of the six were produced in California.  The website did give information on each company, so you could presumably later order more (either through the Hatchery website or directly from the producer) of any item that you really liked.
The Treatsie box

The other food box that came since my last batch of reviews was the "sweets" subscription from Treatsie.  This company does more than one plan, and I am going to get a box of their chocolate subscription as well.  Be warned that their website says that this subscription is $12/month ... with shipping it is closer to $20.  There were three types of sweets in the box:  triple chocolate cookies, assorted caramels, and cherry & white tea preserves.  The caramels were really good.  I devoured the Celtic Sea Salt and Classic Soft ones almost immediately.  Some lucky soul will receive the salted mocha ones from the assortment since I don't like coffee flavors.  The cookies were good.  I could tell that they were commercially made as they were quite dry and powdery; however, I could also tell that there were high quality ingredients used in making them.  You could taste the different levels of chocolate from the dough and the chips.  I have not tried the cherry preserves yet ... holding out for a day when I have time to make waffles or something like that.  However, this was a pleasant surprise to find in the box - a little tartness rather than another very sugary item.  You can order any  full-size versions of the items from this box (or past ones) on the Treatsie website; I looked longingly at more caramels but restrained myself as I currently have many other treats in the house.
The Be Nice Box month of good deeds for September

The last box that I have to review is actually the one that started me on this plan.  I read about the Be Nice Box in Minnesota Monthly magazine and was fascinated by the idea of subscription boxes.  I was also particularly fascinated by this company.  When you subscribe you are sent a list of good deed ideas to try, supplies to do some of the activities on the list, and a little treat for yourself.  Diana (the company founder) has changed the pricing structure since I ordered, so check out the website for more information on costs and frequency of orders.
Coloring book, paper dolls and shaped crayons

Little theater, kindness seed coins and MY TREAT :)

Kit to make cards for hospitalized kids (or someone else)
My box was themed towards good deeds for kids (or the young at heart).  Some of the ideas on the list included buying school supplies to donate to a student in need, drawing a hopscotch grid on the sidewalk, teaching a kid a joke, and opening the door for parents (and everyone else) with their hands full.  Included supplies (they did all tie to something on the list) were a small sheet of paper dolls, a tiny coloring book, sea life shaped crayons, a matchbox theater, and a card making kit.  The treat for me was a bar of chocolate from Meadowlands Chocolate; I was quite thrilled to see this as I've heard about this company but haven't found a spot in my area of Minnesota that sells their product.

I don't know if I will use every item in the box with a kid - some may just get passed on.  However, they were all very sweet.   I did think that the shaped crayons would be hard to actually use to color in the very tiny drawings of the included coloring book, but they certainly looked interesting.  I had gotten some kindness seed coins as well - which look like great fun to hand out.  I love matchbox theaters, so that was a fun old-fashioned item to see.

The real centerpiece of the box was definitely the card kit though.  The small bag included prefolded cards, envelopes, craft paper, and felt stickers to make 6 cards.  There was also an informational sheet about the charity "Cards for Hospitalized Kids" which will take cards to give to kids in hospitals across America.  This sounds like a wonderful effort to support.  I have lots of card-making supplies already and am scheming for a card creation party for this charity early next year (when work slows down a bit).

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