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Athena Scalzi

Universal Yums: May 2022 Review

A large, cardboard box filled with a variety of packaged snacks.

When I mentioned that I was going to be doing snack box reviews again, someone commented that I should consider trying out one called Universal Yums. Little did they know that that was the brand I was planning to do all along! This is actually not my first time trying them, though, as I used to get them consistently a couple years ago. But I’m excited to revisit it and try even more snacks!

Universal Yums is a snack box company that changes the country their snacks come from every month, so you get to try a whole world of snacks rather than snacks solely from one specific place (unless you only try one box, then you only get that month’s country). When I tried Universal Yums in the past, a few of the boxes I got were Spain, France, Brazil, and Japan.

This month, I got the United Kingdom! The United Kingdom actually consists of four countries: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales (which I learned by looking at the map that came in the box), so there’s more than just English snacks to be had. I got the “Yum Yum” box, which is one of the three sizes of boxes you can choose from when you sign up.

The smallest, the “Yum” box, contains 5-7 snacks, and is $17 a month. The medium size, the “Yum Yum” box, has 10-12 snacks, and is $29 a month. And the largest box, the “Super Yum” box, has a whopping 18-20 snacks in it, at $45 a month (these prices are cheaper if you choose an annual plan). I went with the medium sized one because I certainly wanted to have an array of things to try, but felt that 20 snacks might have been a bit much. One good thing is that no matter which size you choose, you get free shipping (in the US)!

So, let’s take a look at the 11 snacks I got in this United Kingdom box! My helper for this session of snacking was none other than my dad, so you’ll be hearing his opinions, as well.

First up, we tried Kent Crisps Lamb & Rosemary Crisps:

(Image from Kent Crisps)

After doing some looking on Kent Crisp’s website, I saw that this flavor was their newest addition. And I have to say it is a wonderful addition, because these “crisps” were super good! They definitely had a strong rosemary flavor, making them taste a lot like stuffing. These chips also possess a special kind of crunch, making them seem almost like kettle cooked chips rather than regular potato chips. My dad gave these crisps an 8/10, while I went for an 8.5/10.

For our second snack, I chose Grandma Wild’s Oaty Biscuits (the one on the right):

(Image from Out of Eden)

I’m not sure why, but the package of these that came in the box was identical to this one pictured, but said “oat cookies” instead of “oaty biscuits”. Either way, it’s the exact same snack. Anyways, this oat cookie was quite tasty. It was like a granola bar and shortbread cookie hybrid. It was simple, subtly sweet, and would surely make for a pleasant tea time snack. My father and I both gave it a 7/10.

Switching back to savory, we tried Golden Cross’s Prawn Cocktail Twirls:

(I actually don’t have a photo for this one, but it’s the pink package in the box photo at the top)

Upon opening the bag, we were immediately hit with a strong vinegar scent, and upon eating these twirly snacks we found that they had a prominent vinegar flavor, as well. I was saddened by the utter lack of shrimp flavor, as I expected a shrimp and cocktail sauce flavored snack, but was met with more of a unsatisfactory salt and vinegar type chip instead. If I hadn’t had my hopes high for a shrimp snack, these wouldn’t have been that bad, but it’s because I was expecting a shrimp flavor and was not met with such that causes my disappointment. As for the texture, my dad said they were like a spiral-y Pringle. These spirals earned a 6/10 from my dad, and a 4.5/10 from me.

Taking a break from crunchy things, we switched to these wine gummies:

(Photo is from ME because my dad reminded me to take a picture before consuming)

These non-alcoholic wine flavored soft candies had more of a chew than I was expecting. They were harder to get through than what I’m used to with things like peach rings and gummy bears. It wasn’t too much of a hassle, but they definitely get stuck in your teeth pretty hardcore. There were different types of wine on the front of each gummy, such as claret, port, and Chablis, but mainly they just tasted like a slightly worse version of fruit snacks. My dad and I settled on a 6/10 for these.

Our fifth snack was Pipers Cheddar & Onion Crisps:

These were some HONKIN’ chips, okay, these were big boys; bigger than any potato chip I’ve seen in the US. Aside from the size, these crisps were much like the Kent Crisps because of their kettle-chip-esque crunch and texture, so that is definitely a plus. The flavor was a bit odd though, not bad, just kind of odd. It didn’t taste quite like I expected it to, but maybe cheese flavored things there are just different than cheese flavored snacks here? Overall, these were perfectly fine but not stellar, so we rated them a 7/10.

Up next, another sweet snack! Here we have Bristows of Devon Rhubarb & Custard Flavored Bon Bons:

Okay, clearly there is a picture of what these candies look like right on the package, but I overlooked it entirely because I thought bon bons were chocolates. So when I opened this candy up and saw brightly colored fruit chews, I was surprised. Even more surprising was how tart they were! Having custard in the title, I thought they’d be more cream flavored, but the description says that rhubarb has a tangy flavor, and they are not joking. Aside from the tart flavor, these seemed to be covered in citric acid, so this candy was a one-and-done for me. A bit painful if you eat too many of those types of things. My dad gave it a 6/10, while I settled on a 5/10.

Onto the last savory snack of the box, we have Johnny’s Pickled Onion Rings:

Holy smackers, you are sure to make a face when you pop one of these bad boys into your mouth. These rings are certainly “crying out with flavor”, if that flavor is pure vinegar. According to my dad, the texture is like a Cheeto that gave up, and I fully agree. These little rings will have your tongue raw in four rings flat or your money back (seriously, eat with caution, these are painful to consume). Have one, be done, and never eat them again. A generous 6/10 from my dad, and a 4/10 from me.

Another treat from Grandma Wild’s, here we have a Chocolate Flapjack:

This ain’t your average stack of pancakes. Apparently flapjacks in the UK are oat bars made with brown sugar and syrup, and can either have toffee or chocolate on top. I should’ve gotten a picture that shows the oatcake as well and not just the chocolate on top, but I’m sure you can use your imagination. Anyways, this oat bar was rather dense, and my father compared it to a Clif bar. I said it was more like a bowl of Quaker oatmeal that had been sitting out a little too long. It seemed a little stale, though that could just be because it made a long journey to get here. I felt that you could definitely taste the brown sugar and syrup it boasted, so that was good, at least. Overall, it was a modest 5/10 from my dad, and a solid 6.5/10 from me.

Ninthly, we tried Millions, specifically the Blackcurrant flavor:

As the name suggests, there are so many of these tiny candies in a package! These little candies are just like Nerds, but chewy! They’re sweet, tangy, get stuck in your teeth easily, everything you could want in a candy. I found this candy to be interesting because I’ve never actually had anything black currant flavored before, since it was outlawed in the US for almost a hundred years. I liked the black currant taste, and thought that the candy wasn’t too strong in terms of flavor. A solid 7/10 from both.

Nearing the end, we have Vanilla Clotted Cream Fudge:

(Image from Universal Yums)

I’ve never had clotted cream, but if it tastes anything like these super sweet candies, I would gladly try it. These little things are packed full of vanilla flavor, and to me seemed a lot like a caramel more than a fudge, both taste and texture-wise. I would definitely eat these all the time if I could. However, my dad thought they were just okay, but I think he’s wild for that, since I thought they were the bee’s knees. My dad gave them a 6/10, while I thought they were deserving of a 9/10.

The last snack of the box was supposed to be a toffee candy, but apparently something happened to it, and Universal Yums sent an apology note and a replacement candy, which ended up being a sour plum hard candy:

Honestly, it didn’t taste much like plum at all. I was surprised it was a green candy, since I figured most plums are more purple than green. This is a great time to mention that my dad is a monster and immediately chewed his hard candy into a million little pieces, meanwhile mine lasted me like fifteen minutes. So props to it for longevity, but less props to it for taste, as my father and I agreed that it was very “meh”. It earned a 6/10 from him and a 5/10 from me.

Out of all these snacks, my dad’s favorite was the lamb and rosemary chips, and his least favorite was the chocolate flapjack. As for me, my favorite was the vanilla clotted cream fudge candy, and my least favorite was the pickled onion chips (mostly because of how oddly painful they were to consume). All in all, I thought this box had a large variety of flavors and textures, which is always a plus. I thoroughly enjoyed snacking my way through the United Kingdom.

I also enjoyed looking through the booklet that comes with the box! It has trivia about the featured country, descriptions and pictures of each snack, games, and even has a recipe (though you only get a recipe in the booklet if you get the medium or large box)! This one featured the national dish of Wales.

Overall, I’m satisfied with my purchase, and am excited to see what box will come next month!

Have you tried Universal Yums before? Which of these snacks sounds the best to you? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

By Athena Scalzi

Twenty three year old girl living life.

35 replies on “Universal Yums: May 2022 Review”

Always wondered what was in those snack boxes. Black currant is one of my favorite flavors! Looking forward to reading about what they send you next. Compared to the snack boxes from Japan, this seemed a bit more meh — a little vinegar goes a loooong way.

I’m with Rick. Definitely the lamb and rosemary crisps.

And I like salt & vinegar so that one wouldn’t bother me at all.

Yeah, real clotted cream with strawberry jam on a fresh scone is something you need to try.

@Lynne – the growing of black currents was banned in the US for well over 60 years and in some places for close to a century – due to a blight it can carry that can decimate trees (threatening lumber production).
you could get that flavor but only imported.. and not the berries themselves due to the seeds.

Thank you for your review!

If clotted cream is anything like Royal Cream that we got at Dickens Fair one year, it’s a delight. We had Royal Cream on lavender scones and swooned. As a retired RN, clotted cream is a very dubious-sounding name.

We’re still subscribed to Sakuraco and doing reviews that aren’t as good as yours. We do love the boxen, and we get some stuff from JapanHaul.

Prawn Cocktail chips are flavored after the ‘cocktail sauce’ not the prawns, and, to make it doubling confusing, the sauce, called Marie Rose sauce, is not the same as US cocktail sauce. It is closer to thousand island dressing. So, yeah, you were never going to be prepared for that.

We’ve been subscribing to Universal Yums for a couple of years. I agree with most of your ratings for this month’s box, especially the shrimpless shrimp crisps; I rather liked the pickle rings, but my husband, a pickle-hater, thought they were awful.

We got the treacle toffee candies rather than a replacement. They were good, but pretty much a standard English toffee: firm, almost hard, and chewy-sticky enough to give the impression that your fillings are about to be ripped out.

I like Universal Yums– those rhubarb and cream candies were my absolute favourite from this box! But my second favourite was Johnny’s Crying Out With Flavour Onion Rings, so I acknowledge I have a higher than average fondness for sour things.

My friends and I played a game with Universal Yums, actually: one person would open the box and pick a snack for each of us, and we’d try to guess based on the snacks which country the box was from. It was a lot of fun!

Cheese and onion is my go-to flavour for crisps, and Pipers are pretty good.
In the post-nuclear apocalypse TV drama Threads, one of the more depressing moments is the discovery of a snack dispenser in the wreckage of a corner shop. The squaddie’s joy turns sour as he extracts a packet of crisps “prawn cocktail” ☹️

I think the only companies I recognised were Pipers & Kent crisps, so perhaps the Yum Yum folk are sourcing from the lesser known corners of our ‘united’ (ha ha) kingdom.
Still, I’d eat rhubarb & custard sweets made by anyone and surely the Welsh national dish is Welsh rarebit?!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these Universal Yums boxes. I’ve been bombarded with ads from then on Facebook for quite a while and have been kind of riding the fence as to whether to purchase one. Think I’ll take the plunge.

On a side note, having grown up in England during the late 70’s/early 80’s, I can confirm the national dish of Wales is cawl (pronounced “cowl”). It’s a stew (or thick soup), most commonly made with mutton, lamb, or beef. It also includes a selection of vegetables, normally including potatoes, carrots and swede (and of course, leek). It can also include bacon.

That vinegar taste on some english chips really takes some getting-used-to. I wasn’t really a fan when I first encountered such chips, but once my tastebuds adjusted, they became my favourites (but I can only eat a limited amount at a time, but that’s not that much of a problem as the chips have become harder to come by here on the continent since the don’t-mention-the-B-word).

Thanks for the entertaining review of the snack box! I think the clotted-cream fudge would be my favorite as well. (Have had the real thing on trips to the UK and – more rarely – in afternoon-tea places in the US; it’s really lovely.)

With the exception of the crisps (Apropos of nothing, the church shown on that packet is on Romney Marsh and is completely cut off from the road by the drainage works. It can only be reached on foot over a rickety bridge – it is still an active church but only opens about one Sunday a month – if that) most of the products in that box are from the cheapest producers going and are hardly what I’d call representative of good snacks or sweets from the UK

That’s a curious set of things as a sample of the UK’s treats.
In terms of the change of name for the oaty biscuits/cookies this may be down to the need to be very precious about the name for a food in the UK, as “normal” food items are not taxed but “luxury” ones are. The dividing line between normal and luxury is sometimes bizarrely arbitrary…. Chocolate covered cake = not luxury so not taxed, but chocolate covered biscuit = luxury so taxed. If you read the wiki page on Jaffa Cakes you’ll see this can go all the way to the High Court to sort out with all sorts of lawyerly shenanigans to convince the court that the food should not be taxable.
So I wonder if the change of name is the result of throwing off the shackles of UK customs and excise regulation when oaty biscuits/cookies are exported!

I agree with other commenters about the standard of snacks you received. Aside from the Kent and Piper crisps you got some really cheap and nasty versions of UK snacks. There are much better wine gums — several different better brands, in fact! And the biscuits and flapjacks look like the kinds of things you end up buying at the train station or motorway services when you’re desperate for something to eat — you know they’ve got a weirdly long shelf-life so they’ll taste strange but they’re better than nothing.

And prawn cocktail crisps normally have a mild tomato ketchup flavour.

I was a math major, I mostly didn’t have a problem with school.

What I did have a problem with was English classes. Notably, “write something about something”. Me: “Um, write what about what?” “Something about something! You choose! You are the writer of your own domain”

I sucked at those. Now, 40 years later, I would ask “trains planes or automobiles?” and, given the answer “whatever, you choose”, I’d say “trains. I’m writing a paper on trains. And I’m sure I would have aced it.

But back then I was frozen. I did not know what to write about. I did badly on every one of those open ended questions.

I guess the point is you are nailing those questions I utterly failed at. It would have never occurred to me to overpay for cookies, then write about them.

Then again, I do remember one English class where I was in 2nd semester chemistry and, given the “write whatever you want”, I wrote a 4 page paper on how to make explosives and napalm.

I’m really glad people can’t access things I wrote as a 20 year old and, well, 40 years ago I wrote an english paper on how to make explosives and napalm. That paper is still in my bottom right hand drawer with an A+ on it, but it will never show up anywhere else, at least until I get my much desired smoking hot body.

If you liked the clotted cream, it’s relatively easy to make your own, if you have the patience for it. Babish makes it on his episode “Breakfast from The Phantom Thread” ( Sept 4, 2018 ), if you want to learn how. But he also comments “You will get addicted to it, and it is hilariously unhealthy.”

I know plenty of others have said it but:

Those are almost uniformly the cheapest nastiest products imaginable. The wine gums, for instance, are even marked as such.

None of those would be sold in a normal grocery store, some of them are so cheap you wouldn’t find them anywhere outside a really poorly run circus/funfair.

Just checked the Yums site for their individual pricing; they sell a bag of onion rings for $1.40, in my local cash and carry they are €3.50 for a box of 24 bags.

I’d be cheating to offer an opinion on this, because I’m from the UK. I have fond memories of the Rhubarb and Custard sweets because there was a shop down the road from my high school that used to sell them (a bunch of kids always used to go there to buy sweets at lunchtime, and you’d get them out of big jars sold by weight – gobstoppers that changed colour as you sucked them were also popular I recall). I guess, if you’ve read Harry Potter, you get a kind of overview of a magical version of common British candies (I sure remember the “Bertie Botts(?) Every Flavour Gobstoppers from those books)

Seems like maybe the people who make the biscuits have got their act together to produce packets calling them “cookies” for export – since basically our biscuits are your cookies.

What was the national dish of Wales according to them?

I have been getting a year of the Sakuraco, but I’d started to feel that I’d rather have a different country every month.
Oddly enough, I’d just signed up for Universal YumYums when I got an email from my sister telling me I should, based on this post, which I didn’t read till a day later.

Fascinating that you don’t seem to have experience with wine gums in the states, which are reasonably common here in Canada.

“These non-alcoholic wine flavo[u]red”

I’m quite sure that they are not remotely wine flavoured (no wine is in the ingredients) — just like there are no children in Sour Patch Kids or fish in Swedish Fish. The names on each of the shapes is just from the mold they’re made in, and depending on the brand you’ll often see the same one in different (fruit) flavours to drive home the lack of relationship between an alcoholic beverage and the taste of the candy.

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