I’ve always wanted to join one of those subscription boxes (like Loot Crate) but have always been afraid that I would wind up with items that I couldn’t even give away so I never took the plunge...That was until two months ago when I found a box called Universal Yums.
Universal Yums is a subscription snack box that sends you an array of snacks each month from a different country. The boxes range from $14-$39 and come with a variety of snacks ranging from sweet to savory (and some spicy), a book with puzzles, games, recipes, and information about each snack and the inspiration behind them. They also include a poll where you can vote on the Best Yum, Runner-Up, Worst Yum and Most Unusual. More information can be found on their website Https://universalyums.com (All Audiences).
I figured this would be the perfect box for me since I won’t be able to travel the world anytime soon (I am planning on a European tour when my rugrat turns 18) so I signed up at first with the Yum Yum box (Medium box) and my first country was the birthplace of Picasso. That’s right folks, for my first box I got to travel to Spain.
So like I said earlier, Each box came with a booklet that described each snack and the origins of it and a ballot to rank 4 of the snacks.
The purpose of each blog is to share my thoughts on each snack and rank them on a scale of 1-10 as well as give you my picks on what was my favorite, least favorite, and a few other things. I’m hoping to make this a monthly thing as long as my bank account holds out and I can continue to afford the snacks.
First up in my Spanish food adventure are potato chips…..Not very original I know but these did have a unique flavor to them.
La Abuela Nieves Artisan Potato Chips: Iberian Ham Flavored Potato Chips
These are inspired by real Iberian Ham which is supposed to be the best of the best of the ham varieties available in Spain. According to my info guide, this ham comes from the Iberico Hog which is fed a special diet of olives and acorns. The meat is cured for three years and results in a unique flavor.
This was the first item I tried out of my box and I wasn’t impressed with the flavor. I thought they didn’t really taste like ham but took into account the fact that I’ve never eaten real Iberian ham so didn’t judge too harshly on that. The texture was that of most potato chips I’ve eaten and overall the flavor seemed similar to some I’ve had in the past. These didn’t blow me away at all and I have to rate them a solid 4/10.
The next stop on my food tour was a cookie. First impressions weren’t that great because when I opened them they were broken and I wound up with a bunch of crumbs everywhere.
Montedaco Doble de Limon: Lemon Shortbread Cookies
These “cookies” are inspired by 500-year-old tortas de manteca (butter cakes) that were made by nuns in Estepa. In the late 1800s, a woman named Filomenia Ruiz Tellez decided to dry the cakes in the oven to allow the nuns to travel further with the cakes. The result is these cookies that didn’t grow mold as fast as the moist cakes.
I was expecting a cookie similar to the American Version of a shortbread cookie. Such as these:
These are crispy and while they are probably more like biscuits than actual cookies are really good they are the exact opposite of what I got.
What I got was the remains of a cookie that was so dry in texture that I couldn’t eat them without a glass of water to help combat the dry mouth that came with eating these. They also tasted nothing like any lemon flavored cookie or cake I’ve ever eaten. I wish I had taken a picture of what the remains of my cookies looked like. They apparently didn’t hold up to the travel well and like my guide says they were very crumbly. They continued to fall apart as I was eating them and I can only hope that they might be better if I was actually in Spain and could attempt to eat a whole cookie instead of crumbs. Again I was not impressed and rate these a 2/10. (1 point deducted because of the condition they were in) So far Spain isn’t blowing me away with their snack foods.
For our next stop, I had to channel my inner coffee connoisseur (not sure where I found her because I don’t like coffee) for some truffles.
Lacasa Trufas: Cappuccino Truffles
I have to be honest, when I think of truffles, I think of those things that pigs dig up, not chocolate (I need to get out more) so I was momentarily blindsided by the fact that a pig could dig up a coffee flavored fungus before and why something so expensive would be in a $25 snack box, I remembered that there was a sweet also called a truffle...Once I remembered that I was thinking I was going to get something similar to the Lindt truffles which I love but again it was different than what I got. (are we seeing a pattern here yet) I’m not going to go into the history of truffles and Spain that came in my guide but just know that it has something to do with Columbus and Cortes and Honduras.
When I opened my box of truffles, I tried to keep an open mind about the cappuccino flavor but that changed when I discovered that they weren’t individually wrapped and had melted together due to the Texas heat. It looked like they resembled Hershey’s Kisses at one point but hey chocolate is chocolate right?... So these weren’t bad and I was surprised to not have an overabundance of the coffee flavor. It was there but the bitterness of the cocoa powder they were dusted with at some point (I wound up with it all over my hands so It must not have melted into the truffles when they stuck together) took over and all I got was the chocolate. Despite being stuck together, they had a really smooth texture and I can’t say I hated them. Spain is slowly starting to look better and better I would rate these 4/10 (1 point deducted because of the state they were in when they arrived)
Up next we go back to the salty with a barbecue snack mix.
Puntazos Mix Cocktail de Maiz: Barbecue Snack Mix with Corn Nuts.
According to my guidebook, corn nuts are a popular snack served in Spanish bars and are mixed with rice puffs and corn chips to create this mix. It wasn’t overpowering on the salt like the CornNuts that I’m used to so this mix was quite enjoyable and I thoroughly enjoyed eating this.
I can’t really say much on this other than I liked the taste and was impressed with it enough to rate it 8/10. Spain finally decided to show up with this one.
The next item made me question if Spain was still there. I don’t think I’ve ever had nougat before that wasn’t covered in chocolate so this was an experience.
San Andres Calidad Suprema: Creamy Almond Nougat
This treat has been around for 500 years and is 60% almonds the one I received is considered Soft Turron since it is made with ground almonds instead of turron Alicante which is made with whole almonds. This was another one that I didn’t care for mostly due to the chalky texture. It had a decent flavor even though almonds aren’t my thing and I have to give it a 4/10.
Next is another cookie that I’m glad to say arrived whole and wasn’t crumbs when I opened it.
Carmen Lupianez Tortas de Aceite: Olive Oil Cookies.
Since Spain produces 43% of the worlds Olive oil, it’s no wonder that a snack made with Spanish Olive oil was included in this month’s box of treats. Living in Texas, there are olive oil cookies that are made in Mexico that I’ve been offered growing up but the idea of eating one never appealed to me since most Mexican snacks I’ve tried I’ve found to be disgusting at least in my opinion. I finally had to take the plunge this month and try one made with Spanish olive oil and had I eaten them as a kid, I probably wouldn’t have been so hesitant to try this one.
They had a soft texture and tasted somewhat like gingerbread but I could taste the oil and that was a bit off-putting for me. Overall they weren’t bad and while it’s not something I would want to eat all the time, I can see me eating them in the future. I would give these cookies a middle of the road score of 5/10.
The next treat in my adventure left me with a fire that was hard to put out…
Vidal Spicy Mangos: Spicy Mango Gummies
I’m not a fan of mango so I really didn’t want to try them but once I did, I didn’t taste mango at all. With only a small bite of one gummy, my entire mouth was on fire. These things are so spicy that you can’t taste anything but heat. It took two large glasses of milk to put out the fire these things left behind. I was not expecting the assault on my taste buds that these provided. These I have to score 3/10. (2 points awarded because I was impressed with the amount of heat these things have)
Once I put out the fire, I was able to sit back and enjoy some bite-size candies.
Lacasitos Gold: Caramel & White Chocolate Candies.
Finally something non-adventurous, These candies resembled M&Ms and I was pleased that the taste was an even balance of the caramel and white chocolate. With a score of 8/10, these are one of my top picks for a favorite snack.
The next item after tasting them, I wish I didn’t have to try. But since I had to, I wish I had tried them first instead of waiting until I had tried most of the other items.
Shiki Shin Barbacoa: Barbecue Potato Snack
These were almost pasta shaped and so blindingly white they almost looked artificially colored. If I hadn’t read the ingredient list provided I would have assumed they contained some sort of food dye. If the color didn’t impress, the flavor didn’t improve anything. They were so salty that it killed any potential for flavor they could have had. These left me with a bad taste in my mouth and the texture left a bad feeling. I would have to rate these a 1/10 but if I could rate them lower, I would.
After all that salt, I’m glad my next item was sweet. Bonus points that it was chocolate.
Leticias Naranja al Chocolate: Chocolate Covered Candied Oranges
These were actually really good. They consist of real orange slices that have been candied and covered in dark chocolate. I’ve always loved the chocolate oranges (just orange flavored chocolate that you smack on a table and it separates into slices) I find at Christmas and while these had a more overpowering chocolate flavor I thought they were well rounded and quite delicious. I would rate these a 7/10.
My journey almost done, I was slightly disappointed in my next two snacks. Both include nuts one contains my favorite and the other I’ve never eaten before but it is the most expensive nut in the world.
El Caserío De Tafalla Crema Pistachio: Pistachio Toffee
I was expecting hard toffee and these were almost soft caramel-like and really tasted more like caramel than anything pistachio I’ve ever eaten. By the way, if anyone remembers the red pistachios please send me a PM so I have someone to reminisce with. I was disappointed that these didn’t taste like my favorite nut and also saddened that they didn’t seem to have any actual pistachios in them. I would rate these 3/10. (Points deducted for denying me my nuts and being basically caramel)
El Caserio Chocolate con Pinones: Chocolate with Pine Nuts
These were similar to the pistachio ones as they were a soft chocolate candy with a woody taste so I was able to detect the presence of something other than just a chocolate flavored caramel. I gave one to a coworker and he said they tasted like what he would imagine tree bark tasted like. He actually spit his out and got to listen to me give him grief about spitting out the most expensive nut in the world. (According to The Google, Pine nuts cost about $20 a pound so roughly about $40 per kilo) They weren’t my favorite sweet in the box but they weren’t my least favorite. These receive a score of 4/10.
Last but not least the next item was inspired by an English biscuit and was one of my favorite snacks.
Ducats Maria Biscuits Chocolate: Chocolate Bon Bon with Biscuit (Maria Biscuit Bon Bon)
To me, these are a combination of a Lindt truffle (see now I remember that Truffles are more than a fungus) and a Ferrero Rocher as they are a hazelnut surrounded by chocolate surrounded by a biscuit and covered in more chocolate. They had a creamy center and melted in your mouth. I LOVED these. They receive a score of 9/10.
So with my journey through Spain complete, All that’s left to do is share the results of the poll. The official Universal Yums Results are in parenthesis.
Most Unusual--Spicy Mango Gummies (Spicy Mango Gummies)
Worst Yum--Shiki Shin (Chocolate with Pine Nuts)
Runner Up--Barbecue Snack Mix with Corn Nuts(Caramel Candies)
Best Yum--Maria Biscuit Bon Bon (Truffles)
Join me next time when I travel to the Philippines. (I’ve already received the box all I have to do is taste everything and compile the results).
Also, anyone who is actually from Spain or familiar with the foods please correct me or clarify anything I might have gotten wrong or missed. I know some of the spelling is incorrect but since I don't have a Spanish keyboard I don't know how to add the accents in the correct places.
Until next time,
*Unless otherwise stated, all prices are in USD
Photos courtesy of me
Spanish Flag Photo from World Atlas.
Lorna Doone Cookie photo courtesy of Google
Special thanks to Universal Yums for providing the treats.