A while back I stumbled over a subsection on Reddit (Reddit, for those of you who don’t know, is an enormous and potentially very time consuming website with subsections for everything you’ve ever wanted to have a conversation about and many things you would prefer never to have a conversation about, so browse at your own risk). This subsection is called SnackExchange. The concept behind SnackExchange is as simple as it is awesome; you swap snacks with someone from a different country or region. I was instantly taken with the idea and decided that I would not only try my hand at swapping, but also review the foreign goodies I received here on the blog.
Being, as it is, the hub of Western pop culture, I thought the US would be an appropriate country for my first swap, so I posted in SnackExchange asking for Americans who wanted Swedish snacks. I got quite a few replies and, in a bout of over-excitement, ended up up setting up three exchanges at once (which, in hindsight, was not a great idea because shipping is rather steep and better left spread out a bit more). After two trips to the grocery store and three to the post office, I started waiting and before too long I received my first package, all the way from Texas! Thank you to Reddit user OutOfNames for this lovely selection!
So, here are the goodies I received in box #1, and what I thought of them:
Fritos – Chili Cheese
Fritos, for those who don’t know, are corn chips. Personally, I connect corn chips mostly to the sort of plain, lightly salted nachos that you might eat here during “taco night” or with some dip when feeling peckish in a pub. I’ve always found them to be sort of boring, to be honest, but this chili cheese kind were actually really tasty and the chips are also crispy (nothing ruins a chip like being slightly too soft, in my opinion). I finished the little bag in no time and was a bit disappointed I didn’t have any more.
Kraft’s Macaroni & Cheese – Original and White Cheddar
Mac & Cheese is one of those dishes that I’ve known the name of for longer than I can remember because I’ve heard it mentioned so many times on TV shows and in movies, but that I’ve never actually tried. It was one of the few (actually, probably the only) non-desert items that I specifically knew I wanted to try. I tried the Original for lunch one day and overall I thought it was sorta decent, for being a “quick, cheap and easy”-type meal. The pasta was really “white” (I wonder if there’s wholegrain Mac & Cheese?) and even though I boiled it for almost two minutes less than the box said it got almost too soft (I guess Mac & Cheese isn’t meant to be al dente, but it was nearly over-cooked), which was a bit of a bummer. I was surprised that it wasn’t particularly greasy like I’d been expecting, but I guess that’s because the cheese comes as a powder. After eating for a bit I realized there was an odd aftertaste for some bites and some investigating let me conclude that the aftertaste was actually the taste of the milk mixed with the cheese powder (I think I used too much milk). I liked the White Cheddar a bit better but I’m not sure if that was because of the different cheese or because of some slight differences in preparation (shorter time boiling, and less milk). All in all, it was fun to taste Mac & Cheese, but it was nothing special and I probably wouldn’t request it again if I were to do another trade.
I had not requested this particular candy (unlike most of the other stuff I got) and found it quite funny to be sent a package of Swedish fish. They’re really yummy candies and remind me a lot of the chewy candies we get over all. The package I got was also super fresh, and fresh chewy candies are just so much better than they are once they’ve started going even just a tiny bit hard and stiff. So two thumbs up for the Swedish Fish!
Great lollipops, terrible gum! Seriously, it’s like… not even gum. It has this odd, awful texture like it’s about to come apart in your mouth at any moment and doesn’t taste much once the crunchy bits are gone. Great lollipops though, very flavorful! As for my favorite flavor, I think it’s a tossup between watermelon and sour apple.
Teddy Grahams – Chocolate and Honey
Oh man, Teddy Grahams! They’re tiny, they’re tasty, they’re teddybear-shaped, and they’re chocolate. What more could a girl possibly want from a snack? They’re kind of dangerous too; because they’re so small and packaged sort of like chips in smallish bags, it’s easy to munch through a whole bag quite quickly. The honey variety was all right too, but not as good as the chocolate.
Bugles – Original
Bugles are sort of dull-looking and seeing as how they weren’t any special flavor but just “Original”, which usually means lightly salted, I wasn’t expecting much. Looks can be deceiving though and this little snack is nice, crispy and tasty, and feels fresh somehow. It also has a short list of ingredients that you actually know what they are, which I always appreciate.
Cheetos – Crunchy, Flaming Hot Crunchy and Puffs
I’ve always been more of a potato girl than a cheese girl when it comes to munchies, but Cheetos is another one of those brands I know from pop culture so I wanted to try some. The Puffs are basically quite boring Cheese Doodles. The Crunchy variety was… odd. The taste was all right, but I didn’t like the crunchy texture. They felt sort of… compact and dry. I guess I prefer my cheesy snacks puffy. As for the Flaming Hot Crunchy variety… well, it’s actually hot which isn’t always the case for products called that, but I still don’t like them. Crunchy cheese-doodles are just weird.
When I visited my boyfriend in Canada for the first time, I fell in love with a tiny red candy called “cinnamon hearts”. They’re super yummy, and taste like cinnamon and love. So naturally, when I heard of Atomic Fireballs, I wanted to try them. Let me tell you, these things mean business! They are strong. Like, “taking the candy out of your mouth occasionally to give your tongue a break”-kind of strong. Additionally, they’re a little too big for a candy with such an intense flavor. All in all I prefer my cinnamon hearts; they’re smaller and they taste of cinnamon but don’t burn.
Oh man, Skittles! I gotta tell you, Skittles were a surprise and for two reasons. Firstly, they were a surprise because I was under the impression that Skittles were, like, chubby Smarties or alternative M&Ms or something chocolaty like that, rather than little pebbles of chewy, fruity goodness. Secondly, they were a surprise because they are freaking scrumptious! Like, dangerously so. Like, “much your way through a whole packet like they’re a bowl of nuts”-scrumptious. Freaking Skittles, man!
Wolf’s Brand Chili – Hot and Mild
I very very pleasantly surprised to receive 2 cans of Wolf’s Brand Chili with my snacks, especially because it seems to typically Texan and it was fun to try something regional. Initially I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. My first thought was to make chili con carne but since one can didn’t really seem enough to makes proper batch, and I didn’t want to mix the cans since one was Mild and one was Hot and I wanted to be able to tell the difference, so I decided against it. I ended up making an improvised wrap, mixing the chili with some kidney beans, in a tortilla, with cheese on top and then putting it on the oven. It was a success and a failure at the same time. A failure because the chili was a lot more liquid-ish than I’d expected and a lot of it opted to exit the tortilla while cooking, and a success because it tasted really nice. The Texans sure know how to make chili! I preferred the Hot variant over the Mild, it was nice and spicy but not burn-your-mouth-off-spicy (I’m too white to handle that!). The Mild was nice too though, and I imagine for certain types of dishes it would be more useful than the Hot.
You know, I don’t know what it is with Americans and making things taste like watermelon, but I approve! Kazoozles are lovely chewy watermelon/strawberry candies and although they’re not terribly unique (I can think of a few similar candies here), they’ve got a great flavor and are very fresh and chewy. I don’t really know what else to say about them, to be honest, but I do really like them. Plus it was fun to try something of the Wonka brand.
Gummibursts are little gummy candies with candy liquid inside. Or, in some cases, gummy candies that seem to have been squished enough that the liquid as come out and made it a very sticky gummy candy. They have a really nice, fruity taste but to be honest I’m just not fond of the liquid part. It tastes nice but feels odd and I don’t think it really adds to the candy; I would’ve liked it just as well, or perhaps even better, as just a gummy candy with nice fruity taste. It is also very sweet-tasting, which can be nice but I prefer it in small doses.
This Butterfingers bar was my first ever taste of peanut-butter candy. I am… skeptical. It’s all right in small doses but after a couple of bites it was just too sweet and… well, buttery, for my tastes. Yes, it’s supposed to be buttery, but in the end I didn’t like it. I’m still curious about trying out other kinds of peanut butter candy at some point though.
Pop Rocks were the only candy in the box that I’ve actually eaten before (unless you count the Swedish Fish, which are very similar to candy we have here but we don’t have that brand here). When I was a kid it was one of those candies that you were supposed to eat because they were cool (with the popping and all) so I ate them occasionally but I’m not sure if I actually found them tasty. I’m not even sure I liked the popping. Well, for the sake of this snack experiment I tried them again and I can honestly say I have retained at least one opinion from my early years: Pop Rocks aren’t tasty and the popping just feels weird.
Buncha Crunch is bunches of puffed rice dipped in chocolate. For me, it’s one of those type of candy that I can neither dislike nor really be excited about because puffed rice is kind of dull but I do love chocolate. All in all I liked them, they’re nice and crunchy and the chocolate, while a tad sweet for me to have a lot of at once, was nice, but they’re not something I would be likely to pick up spontaneously at the store.
As you may have noticed I don’t assign scores to the snacks (or other items) I review, but since these snack packages are such mixed bags I thought it’d be fun to pick out a top and bottom three for each. For this package, I’ve decided on the following:
The top 3: Chocolate Teddy Grahams, Skittles and Wolf’s Brand Chili (Hot)
The bottom 3: Crunchy Cheetos (both varieties), Pop Rocks and Atomic Fireballs
Well, that was my first box of foreign snacks! Stay tuned for more miniviews. I have two more boxed of US snacks to review, but for the sake of my teeth and my stomach (and my self-respect) I will take my time with trying them all out so that I can really enjoy them. Therefor, it might be a while until the next review is up, but it will come up eventually! Oh and lastly, a big thank you to my awesome swapper!