Universal Yums: May 2023 Review

It is the final day of May, which means I’m posting this May review on time! Woohoo! Anyways, this month’s Universal Yums country was Taiwan, and it was a very colorful spread:

Ten different snacks laid out on the table. Some of them are in chip bag type packages, some are in cardboard type packages. There's a lot of pink and yellow in the packaging.

I loved these packages’ designs. The cute little cow, the pretty pinks, and the funky little jelly shots that were super squishy. So fun!

My tasting assistant picked the first snack we tried, which was these Kimchi Soy Crackers:

A small red package of wheat crackers.

A pile of the wheat crackers, colored slightly orange from the kimchi flavoring.

Athena ScalziThe texture of these was exactly like Wheat-Thins, which makes sense because they’re wheat crackers. I used to not like the texture of these types of crackers, but over the years I’ve grown to enjoy it. As for the flavor, they were sort of soy saucy tasting, with a very subtle heat behind them. They were really good, and we ate the whole bag. My snack expert assistant gave them a 10/10, and I gave them an 8/10.

I picked this snack next because the packaging is purple! These are called Cheesy Potato Fries:

A small purple package with an image of French fries on the front.

A snack that looks like French fries but is definitely not like French fries.

Upon first appearance, these literally look stale French fries you find in your kid’s car seat. I had no idea what to expect, but they ended up having the texture of slightly crunchier Cheetos. They were supposed to be cheese flavored but they didn’t taste very much like any type of cheese, they sort of just tasted like garlic and onion powder, more so just a savory flavor than a cheese flavor. It was super small package so we ate all of these easily. These were a 9/10 from both of us!

At this point, we decided to eat all the savory snacks first, and then move onto all the sweet ones, so up next is these White Pepper Crackers:

A small red snack package that reads

The light brown crackers spilling out of the bag onto the table.

These tasted like literally nothing at first, then had some very subtle flavor towards the end. It was strangely plain, but had a pleasant texture. They were just a totally standard cracker, with a slight hint of seasoning, and were pretty forgettable but not unenjoyable, earning them a 7/10 from both of us.

I was actually afraid to try this next snack, because it has spicy in the title. This is the Spicy Beef Noodle Popcorn:

A orange and yellow popcorn package with a cute cartoon cow on it.

The popcorn spilling out of the bag onto the table. It's brownish in color from the spices.

I have so much to say about this popcorn. One, it’s kettle corn texture, which is the superior texture for popcorn. Two, this is probably the first spicy thing I’ve ever enjoyed. And three, these are absolutely banger. This popcorn was so savory and flavorful and complex. It was spicy, but it was like a pleasant warm heat that built upon itself. This is the first time I have ever thought that something being spicy was a pro and not a con. And there was so much in the bag, it was a really sizeable portion! We ate it all, and gave it a 10/10.

The final savory snack was these Salty Lemon Pea Crackers:

A bright pink bag with yellow lettering. It also shows the snack inside alongside a cut open lemon.

The crackers, which are shaped like curly twists, spilling out of the pink bag onto the table.

I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever had pea crackers before, but these were SO GOOD. They were super duper crunchy and I loved the twisty shape. They were lemony, salty, citrusy, goodness without being overwhelming. They were so addicting, and I wish that I could have these in my house all the time, I would eat them literally every day if I could. They were also my favorite package out of everything. These earned a 10/10 from both of us!

Finally switching over to the sweet snacks, we tried these Yogurt Animal Crackers:

A small white and blue package of animal crackers with a cute little penguin on the front showcasing three of the animal shaped crackers.

The animal crackers, which are all actually distinct, different animals. There's a dog, a lion, a monkey, and a panda.

While we do have animal crackers here in the US, these were quite different from our version. I liked the fun animal shapes, it was cute. They were very interesting taste-wise, with a mild and slightly strange flavor. They had the texture and overall feel of Ritz crackers, and were pretty inoffensive. They weren’t anything to write home about but they were a perfectly serviceable biscuit. My assistant gave them a 7.5/10, and I settled on a solid 7/10.

Okay, I was definitely dubious on this one, but here’s the Peach Jelly Shot:

A super small, pink, squishy package of peach jelly.

The peach jelly being squeezed out of the top of the package.

When I tore off the top of the package, several drops of the juice came spilling out. That, plus the fact that this was so squishy and wet gave me major ick. But, I braved it, and it ended up being pretty good! It was like a firmer Jell-O, and tasted like peach rings. Definitely kind of strange, but good overall. My helper gave it a 9/10, whereas I went for a modest 7.5/10.

For the eighth snack, we have this Pineapple Cake:

A small blue and yellow package with a pineapple displayed on the front alongside the pineapple cake itself.

The small pineapple cake broken in half to reveal the cross section of brown filling in the middle.

I really like pineapple, and I really like cake, so I was sad that this wasn’t very good. It wasn’t horrible or anything, but the pineapple flavor was super artificial and it mostly tasted like a lotion or a candle. The texture was okay, but not anything stellar. This was honestly the first disappointing item in the box, so I can’t be too mad. My helper gave it a middling 5/10, and I went for slightly less than that with a 4.5/10.

At this point we were really full, but we powered on through these Cherry Blossom Wafer Rolls:

A pink rectangular box displaying cherry blossom wafers on the front.

The wafers, lined up into rows inside its white plastic container.

These smelled like Play-Doh, which was not a great first impression. We took one bite, and we did not take any more than that. They tasted weird and unpleasant, and nothing like cherry blossom. My assistant said they tasted like they’d gone off, and I had to agree, they just weren’t right. We had to rate this at a 3/10 and a 2/10. These were the worst item in the box by a landslide.

Finally, we tried these Choco Peanut Mochi:

A black box with gold lettering that reads

The four choco balls in their wrapping.

The choco ball bitten in half and facing the camera to reveal the cross section of the peanut butter filling and mochi interior.

These were chewy like a marshmallow because of the mochi, but they actually weren’t all that sweet. The peanut butter tasted like actual peanut butter and had a creamy consistency, which I feel like is very different from peanut butter filled candies here like Reese’s, where the peanut butter is weirdly crumbly and dry and tastes like preservatives. The chocolate wasn’t super detectable since it’s just a thin covering around all the thick mochi and peanut butter, but honestly these were pretty good. And I liked that they were easily shareable. My helper gave them a 7.5/10, and I gave them a 7/10.

Overall, this box was the best one I’ve ever had from Universal Yums! I absolutely loved Taiwan, especially the lemon crackers and the spicy popcorn. There were so many 10/10s, and we were so full at the end. I actually just paused my subscription for a few months, so I’m really glad the last box I’m getting for a while ended up being so good.

What looked the best to you? Do you like mochi? Have you been to Taiwan? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


13 Comments on “Universal Yums: May 2023 Review”

  1. I wonder if the “Cadina” was a typo and they meant “Canada”. Like some sort of poutine experiment?

  2. As I can read the Chinese, I find some of the English translated names sorta funny. But the English name for the Cadina potato fries left out the cheese is supposedly from Hokkaido, which is famous in Asia for its dairy products. :)

  3. @josh jasper

    Actually, Cadina was the name of the company. Quite a number of Chinese (from Hong Kong to mainland China to Taiwan) companies do that, so that they can pretend their product is from overseas and thus sell them at a higher price.

    In fact, I suspect a lot of Asian companies across the continent does that too, but as I only know about the (Greater) Chinese circle, I can’t really confirm.

  4. The dry peanutty stuff in Reece’s isn’t actually peanut butter, it’s a drier substance made from peanuts so it will retain structural integrity in the cups. The NPR podcast Planet Money talked about it on their “M&M Anomaly” episode.

  5. Apologies if you’ve answered this before on a previous Unboxing, but have you ever found a snack item in one of these that you liked so much you tracked it down to order all by itself? (That popcorn looks KILLER)

  6. Regarding the label on the Choco Peanut Mochi —

    Serving suggestion? What kind of serving suggestion is that? Serve them with a peanut? As a peanut? In a peanut?

    I am suspicious.


  7. My grandma used to make chocolate-peanut butter squares (like Reese’s cups but in cake form) which my dad ate and had to hide away so we wouldn’t eat it. It had a similar texture to PBC because there was a lot of confectioners’ sugar mixed with the peanut butter, so I thought maybe that was the cause (but then Anonymath above noted the actual reason so…)

  8. Do you employ a palate cleanser between snacks? I’d think that was essential during the salty to sweet tastings.

  9. I was given two boxes of pineapple cakes, each a different brand, once by some Taiwanese researchers. One was SO GOOD and the other very meh. The meh ones were drier and I don’t know if they were made that way or had gone a little stale. I’ve seen them at the local Chinese grocery and been tempted to buy them.

  10. Once again this is off the topic since I have been waiting for you to continue your Bonne Maman advent calendar and I didn’t get to your earlier posts until after the comments closed, so here is what I’ve wanted to send to you since January!
    Bonne Maman jars are a thing, and on Fridays Salon Magazine features The Bite which is about food. They had a story about the afterlife of the jars that I thought you might be interested in. So here’s a link to the story.

  11. I can honestly say that nothing there took my fancy, it all looked rather disgusting to be honest! I like popping my own corn without any added flavorings, so I doubt the spicy popcorn would be to my liking.

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