Universal Yums: March 2023 Review
Posted on March 30, 2023 Posted by Athena Scalzi 16 Comments
Welcome, everyone, to another Universal Yums review! The last one I did was in November, and then I paused my membership because the holidays were coming up and I knew I was going to be too busy/too full of holiday goodies to be able to focus on snack boxes. But the pause-period is over, and I got to try March’s box, which was the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is actually somewhere I’m very interested in traveling to, so I was excited to see what type of snacks they have over there. And of course I had a tasting helper, whose ratings I will be including throughout! After perusing through our options, I decided to start with these Cheddar & Onion Crispies:
I had expected them to look like the rectangles portrayed on the front of the box, but these crispies were all completely irregular sizes. Some were much wider rectangles than others that were just like slim little sticks.
Aside from their sizing inconsistencies, they were super fragrant, definitely oniony! They were crispy, which was to be expected given the name, and reminded me a lot of a Cheez-It in both flavor and texture. Basically just a baked cheese flavored cracker that are really addicting for some reason. Solid 8/10 from me, and a 7.5/10 from my tasting partner.
Switching over to something sweet, we tried these Speculoos Spice Cookies:
Look how cute! They’re just little guys!
These dudes were nice and crunchy, perfectly cinnamon-y, a super adorable little snack, and would be so good with some tea or coffee. I could’ve eaten 100 of these broskis. Honestly they tasted just like a Biscoff cookie, which is like my favorite kind of cookie, so I gave them a 10/10. My tasting buddy was less enthused, as he said they were just like any other gingerbread cookie and weren’t anything special. Still, he gave them an 8/10.
Swinging back into savory, we’ve got these Organic Sea Salt & Pepper Chips:
These were definitely more like kettle chips than regular potato chips, as they were extra crunchy. Personally, I love kettle chips so this wasn’t a problem for me. What was a problem for me, though, was how bland these were. I like a good salt and pepper chip, and in fact my favorite flavor of chips we sell at my work is black pepper. But these tasted like they were perhaps very lightly salted, with no pepper. Maybe it’s to do with every flavor in America being extreme, or maybe there really just wasn’t much on this batch. My helper said they reminded him of when you try to make healthier potato chips at home but they just end up not being even close to as good as store bought. All that being said, they weren’t bad or anything, just kind of bland, so they earned at 6/10 from me, and a 5/10 from him.
Coconut-lovers rejoice! We’ve got Milk Chocolate Coconut Cookies:
I was super excited to try these because I love cookies, chocolate, and coconut, so these seemed like they’d be a winner for me. And they totally were! The cookie part is really more like a crispy wafer, the chocolate is soft and sweet, and there’s a perfect amount of coconut to compliment the other elements. Plus, look how big they are, and how many come in the package! These were like an Almond Joy, but without the almonds, and also a cookie. But same vibe, at least. These earned a 9.5/10 from me, and a 9/10 from my snack helper.
By the same brand as the Cheddar & Onion Crispies, we have these Gouda Cheese Crispies:
Unlike the other crispies, these ones had a much more subtle flavor. The most flavor you got from them was actually in the aftertaste, strangely enough. They have the same crispy texture as the other ones, but aren’t as good as the onion ones because they’re just really lacking. It’s unfortunate because Gouda is such an amazing cheese. These were a 7/10 from both of us.
A familiar face, Salted Caramel Popcorn:
Caramel corn has always been my favorite way to eat popcorn. This popcorn in particular was interesting, though, because it’s air popped, so it was much lighter than what I’m used to. It was very much like kettle corn, which is my second preferred type of popcorn, so honestly I got the best of both worlds here. I could totally smash this whole bag if I’m not careful. Solid 8/10 from me, and a 7/10 from my helper.
A much less familiar face, Candy Cars:
As interesting as these Cadillacs look, they did not taste all that great. There was strawberry, cherry, and black currant Cadillacs, and none of them were a winner. The strawberry was alright, the cherry was medicinal in flavor and tasted like old lady perfume, and the black currant was just generally strange. And all of them were hard and stale instead of soft and gummy. They were unpleasant and earned a 3/10 from both of us.
You know ’em, you love ’em, you’ve probably had them on an airplane, Stroopwafels!
I love Stroopwafels! They’re something I’ve had semi-regularly over the years, usually in airports, but I think they’re pretty good! Definitely a great addition to coffee, or just nice to have as a treat by itself. They’re sweet, caramel-y, and a nice size. 9/10 from both of us!
Finally, we have the two candies from the Yum Bag! Up first is this Cappuccino Praline:
I really wanted to like these, because chocolate and coffee is such a good, classic combo, but these tasted like old coffee and honestly hurt my teeth with how sugary they are, which probably says more about the state of my teeth than anything else. I ended up giving these a 4/10 because they were pretty icky, but my snack partner gave them a 5/10.
Lastly (and also leastly), we have Salty Licorice Balls:
I got two syllables for this licorice ball: NAS-TY. I don’t think I have ever hated a “candy” as much as I did this gross little salt ball. This is coming from someone who doesn’t even mind black licorice! This literally just tasted like those salt wheels you give to hamsters. Salty and unpleasant and gross, and a total 1/10 from me. I’m not sure how or why, but my snack buddy gave them a 3/10 and said it wasn’t the worst thing ever, even though it clearly was!
Another snack box in the book! What looked the best to you? Have you ever been to the Netherlands? Would you dare to try the Salty Ball?! Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!
You know what you call an Almond Joy minus the Almond? Mounds. It’s already a thing. I like your descriptions on everything, though.
When I saw the country of origin I was wondering if they’d include drop (the salty liquorice) sounds like you got a gross one. There are some decent ones with much stronger liquorice flavor (but still way salty) look for them if you ever make it over:
And they left out the best snack ever invented, although I’m not sure you can make a packaged version. Hagelslag: bread, butter & chocolate sprinkles.
Salty Licorice Balls? Make me think of Shweddy balls!
I’ve been lucky enough to go to Amsterdam three times and always have so much fun!
Albert Heyn is one of the main grocery store chains and I always make sure to get some of their juices which are fresh and delicious, and they have excellent cheese options. Because it’s not tourist driven you don’t get the “do I really want to put a whole wheel of cheese in my luggage?” issue and can focus on the deliciousness of cheese in the moment.
You could have a really fun time doing a food review post on Febo, which is a fast food place with automat style service! The deep fried slab of cheese is my number one and the lightly curry flavored croquette is right up there.
For super fancy chocolates, check out Puccini Bomboni.
I hope you have an awesome time when you get the chance to make the trip!
When I was stationed in Germany in the 80’s we use to sample the snacks. Good thing I read German! I noticed that most of the packaging (except for the Ginger Cookies) is in English. I would figure a little more Dutch.
If you get a chance, stop in a Bakkerij (Bakery) in Holland. I was surprised that they don’t add sugar to their whipped cream. Sure makes the cream horns taste different. Dave
Pity about the salt licorice. I grew up with Salmiak Pastillen, which are salty little licorice chips, and like almost all forms of it. Sorry you encountered some nasty ones.
This made me laugh, because we actually have the salty licorice balls at home (salmiak) for my husband. We do live in the Netherlands, so they’re easy to come by ;)
I agree that they should have figured out a way to add in hagelslag (maybe they didn’t see it as a snack?) or peperkoek/ontbijtkoek.
Also, did you know biscoff (speculoos) is actually Belgian in origin? https://www.lotusbiscoff.com/en-gb/faq/it-speculaas-or-speculoos#:~:text=Speculaas%20and%20speculoos%20are%202,of%20sugar%20in%20the%20biscuit.
We have friends in Germany and Holland and they love the whole salty licorice thing. I never understood it, my wife and I both find them nasty. The rest of the pack looked good though, thank you for the review!
Organic Sea Salt & Pepper Chips–I started out thinking these weren’t so bad, and then the BURN grew and grew and grew. (n.b. if you opened the black pepper in the same room as the food, that was too much black pepper for me—hah)
Salty Licorice Balls—I actually managed to eat one of these, but when I shared one with my sister I put out the compost bucket and told her to feel free to spit the thing out once the ammonia hit her mouth. She took advantage of my kind offer. And then we added the unopened ones to the compost also. (n.b. there was actually some ammonia compound listed in the ingredients. Kids, don’t eat ammonia!)
Validation! I got the smaller version of this box and also thought the potato chips were bland and in need of … anything. Anything at all. The bio-organic wording on the front should have been a clue: this will not be a fun snack.
As we live one country over from the NL and we travel there frequently, I was eager to read your review. I agree with most of them but I am called to defend the Cadillacs. Maybe I am just broken but I find them delightful. They are one of our family’s favorites. Hard, odd flavor, and bizarre – but delicious!
If you do get the NL, I recommend the almond cakes (easily sourced at any grocery store/gas station). They are absolutely amazing.
I just want to know how you know what a salty hamster wheel tastes like!
I actually lived in the Netherlands for three years as a kid (my father was in the military and was posted there). I still miss quark (kind of like a super-thick yoghurt). Oh, and the chocolate sprinkles that are made to be put on hot buttered toast for breakfast. Yum.
Mmmmm…salted licorice. I’m full from dinner, or I’d go get some from the kitchen.
That said, there are levels and I’m not sure how strong the ones I’ve eaten are or how much stronger they get (probably a lot).
I can explain the underwhelming potato chips. The Dutch government want us to decrease our salt intake, so the food industry has made them less salty. Once you are used to it they are quite acceptable… until you go to Belgium, Germany etc. and have some of their chips.