For a while now I’ve known about the company Universal Yums who specialize in a food subscription service that delivers a box filled with snacks and candies each month and so I decided that the month of August it was time to finally jump onto the band wagon and to experience this box myself. Though this may sound like any other food related subscription box out there, this is where it gets interesting. Each month Universal Yums chooses a different country around the world with some of the past boxes being from Italy and South Korea and fills a box with goodies originating from that country. Boxes can be purchased as a subscription service with a new box each month but can be cancelled and renewed at any time so that you receive your boxes when it’s convenient for you. Prices vary depending on the size of the box that you would like to receive, with the smaller boxes (6+ snacks) priced at $14 USD and the larger boxes (12+ snacks) priced at $25 USD. Every month each box will come jam packed not only with a specific country’s snacks and candies but there will also be a booklet included which describes each snack along with some information on the country that you are visiting that month. There is also trivia and games included in that booklet as well as a free activity sheet in each box.
This month’s Universal Yums box is brought to you by the vibrant and diverse country of Colombia. This South American country is known for having some of the happiest people on Earth and is also the home place of natural wonders such as the Amazon rain forest as well as the Andes Mountains.
So let’s jump right into what you all came here for : the food of course! I opted to get the larger box which was filled with over 14 snacks and candies because let’s be honest, I love food! I’ll be sharing a brief description of each snack as well as my verdict on whether I enjoyed the item or not.
| Cassava Strips |
Though these may look like regular old potato chips, these cassava strips are actually made of a type of shrub that grows exclusively in Colombia and other South American countries. This shrub is used for multiple different purposes such as for laundry detergent and medicine and they are very similar looking to regular potato chips.
I was really nervous to try these when I first read what they actually were and I never expected them to be good ( keep in mind I’m also a very picky eater ) but these were amazing! They taste very much the same as plain salted potato chips but with a thicker texture and of course they are so much healthier for you with less fat and calories than a normal bag of chips.
| Tocineta Lime & Bacon Chips |
Made to look like realistic little bacon pieces, these chips were created using inspiration from one of Colombia’s most common food combinations. Fried pork belly is one of the more popular dishes in this South American country and is always served with a splash of lime, which is exactly what these chips are made to taste like.
I went into this one excited to try these chips yet a bit wary because of the lime seeing as I absolutely despise anything flavored with the citrus fruit. In the end I finished the whole bag in one night and they ended up being in the top of my favorite snacks from this box. Though I didn’t really get the flavoring of the bacon, you can taste the sweetness of the lime but it isn’t too overpowering. The chips have a corn puff type texture and remind me a lot of the triangle shaped chips sold here known as Bugles.
| Castipan Veleno |
Known as bocadillo, this cube shaped treat is made up of a guava pulp and sugar cane that is mixed together to create the thick guava paste. Though this treat can be eaten all on its own, it is best paired with cheese. This combination is highly popular in Colombia and is known as bocadillo con queso when mixed with cheese.
Hands down, this is the worst treat in this month’s box ( in my opinion anyways ). It had a really weird smell which I found to almost be similar to the smell of tobacco and the texture of it was also pretty weird and felt almost sandy. My fiance also taste tested all of this month’s treats with me and he tends to be someone who eats almost anything and everything and he wasn’t able to finish this because he hated it so much. Though this may be someone else’s cup of tea and maybe if it was paired with cheese like suggested it would taste better but for me this one was a no go.
| Cocosette |
Also popular in Colombia’s neighboring country of Venezuela, the Cocosette treat is unlike any other. Not only is it made up of thin vanilla flavored wafer cookies, they are also filled with a roasted coconut and chocolate flavored filling which makes for a sweet, tropical tasting treat.
This wafer bar was another one of my favorites in this month’s box and I could easily see myself buying these if we had them here in Canada. Though this treat does advertise three different flavorings, I was only able to pick up on the coconut flavor which kind of overpowered the chocolate and vanilla but again I’m not complaining as I love the taste of coconut.
| Turbana Chili Plantain Chips |
Hugely popular in Colombia, plantains, which are similar to bananas, cannot be eaten as is and must be cooked or prepared in order to be able to enjoy them. Colombians find many different ways to enjoy this delicacy ranging from making plantain balls, stuffing them, plantain soup, baked plantains wrapped in bacon, and making them into plantain chips.
I’m not a huge fan of plantain chips and I’m not good with anything spicy so I knew right off the bat that I wouldn’t enjoy this and I didn’t. My sister and my fiance absolutely loved them however, but they’re not my thing. Though the chips are really spicy ( for my taste ) you still get a good mix of sweet and salty once you get past the spice.
| Rizadas Mayonesa |
In Colombia it isn’t a rare thing to see someone dipping french fries or potato chips into mayonnaise, they love this stuff over there. It was such a popular thing to do that this chip company decided to jump on board and create mayonnaise flavored chips.
I actually really love mayonnaise and much like the people in Colombia, I tend to put it on my french fries all the time as well so I was pretty excited to try these chips but I was pretty disappointed to say the least. When I first smelled the chips they didn’t really smell like anything and so I was starting to think that maybe they would just taste like regular chips with a hint of mayo but the flavoring is actually quite strong. I didn’t find that they tasted like mayonnaise but I did get some hints of vinegar and a kind of mustard taste. Though I wouldn’t eat a whole bag of these and I probably wouldn’t buy these if they were sold in Canada, they weren’t the worst things out there.
|Rizadas Picanticas |
Made by the same company as the mayonnaise chips, these chips are about as spicy as it goes for Colombians. A common myth within South American countries is that all of them enjoy extremely spicy dishes and everything they eat tends to be loaded with hot peppers or spices. For Colombians, however, they are quite sensitive to spicy foods and use hot peppers and sauces in moderation within their dishes. These chips are flavored with a seasoning similar to a popular hot sauce in Colombia known as aji picante made with vinegar, tomatoes, water, onions, lime, and habanero peppers which are all blended together to make the sauce.
Once again, I’m terrible with spicy foods so when I saw these chips I just kind of assumed right off the bat that they would be way too spicy for me and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them. I was proven wrong though as these chips are not spicy whatsoever, and this is coming from someone who can’t eat certain brands of BBQ flavored chips because I find them to be too spicy. When I first tried them I couldn’t really pinpoint what they tasted like but the more that I ate them I found that they almost have a sort of sweet bbq flavor.
| Bianchi White Chocolate Bar |
Known for being huge fans of chocolate, there are hundreds of types of chocolate bars that can be found within the country. The one included within this month’s Universal Yums box is the Bianchi white chocolate bar. This chocolate bar is coated with a thick coat of creamy, white chocolate and filled with caramel and peanuts.
Hands down, this was my favorite thing in the box for sure and since I prefer white chocolate over dark or milk chocolate, it was a given that I would love these. I found that the Bianchi bar can be compared to a Oh Henry! chocolate bar just made with white chocolate instead of milk chocolate as they are both filled with peanuts and caramel. Sadly though we don’t have very many options in Canada for white chocolate bars so I think we definitely need to bring these over here.
| Chocoramo |
Eaten by thousands of Colombians each year on their birthdays, the Chocoramo cake is made by a world renowned pastry chef using eggs that can only be sourced from a specific farm in Colombia. This cake is also so popular, that the recipe for it is safely guarded within an undisclosed bank somewhere in the United States. The cake itself is a lemon pound cake that is covered in a thin layer of milk chocolate coating and over 240 million of these cakes are produced each year to satisfy the huge demand for them throughout Colombia.
Though this cake wasn’t my favorite thing in the box and it isn’t necessarily something that I would eat often, I can definitely see why it is so popular within the country. The cake on the inside was really moist which I feel isn’t very common in store bought snack cakes such as these and even though I’m not usually a fan of chocolate and fruit mixed together ( I’ve come to realize that this review is making it sound like I don’t like anything ) this treat was still enjoyable.
| Coffee Delight |
If there is one thing that Colombia is known for, it’s their coffee. Used by many different companies, Colombian coffee is some of the best tasting coffee out there and is loved by hundreds around the world. Colombian coffee is made from Arabica beans which are sweeter and have a more fruity taste than other coffee beans. These candies are made from 100% Colombian coffee and are great for anyone.
I love coffee and anything coffee flavored so upon seeing these candies I just knew that I would love them and I was right. Even though we have candies that are similar to this here in Canada, I found that these ones had more of a coffee flavoring and tasted less artificial. Overall, I loved these and I loved the stronger taste of coffee the more that you sucked on them.
| Supercoco Candy |
Originating in Spain, the love for this candy has spread into multiple different countries around the world including Italy, Peru, and Colombia. It used to be a candy that was traditionally only eaten during Christmas time but is now eaten on a more regular basis and for any occasion. Supercoco is a turron style candy and is a nougat with a nut base. In Colombia, they have added a twist to their recipe for it by incorporating coconut which is hugely popular in this country and is eaten with virtually everything from rice to fish. The coconut is mixed with sugar and water to create this incredibly sticky treat.
This candy starts off with a thick, sticky exterior and a harder middle is later revealed. This candy really is unlike anything I’ve ever had before but I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of it. I didn’t like the taste of the outside of it so I spit out the first one that I tried but after my fiance told me how good he thought they were, I decided to give them another shot. The nuts in the middle were coated with coconut which were pretty decent but the outside of the candy really is what got me and because of the taste of that I’m not able to enjoy these.
| Piazza Freso Barquillos |
Known as barquillos, theses rolled wafer cookies are filled with strawberry filling and can be eaten on their own or used as a straw in a glass of milk. Though these wafer sticks can be found everywhere and there a bunch of different flavors available, the flavor of choice in Colombia is strawberry.
Though these aren’t something new that we can’t find around here, the flavors of wafer sticks that are more popular here or that I’ve seen more of have been chocolate or hazelnut. Now since I’m not a huge fan of either of those flavors I was really excited to see that these were strawberry. To put it simply, these were amazing and so much better than the ones we have in Canada.
| Arequipe Dulce de Leche |
Arequipe is known as Colombia’s dulce de leche and is made of condensed milk and sugar. Though it is similar to caramel, they are actually made with different ingredients which makes for a different consistency and taste. Arequipe is also much thicker than regular caramel and can be used for dipping fruits in, topping on ice cream, and or eaten straight off the spoon like pudding which is how it’s typically eaten in Colombia.
Hands down, this stuff is absolutely amazing! Though I wouldn’t be able to eat too much of it without feeling a bit sick, it is definitely a nice treat to have. Though we do have dulce de leche here in Canada, we don’t normally eat it straight off the spoon and rather mix it into different desserts or use it as a topping. Since it was suggested to eat it like pudding and I also didn’t have any fruits to dip it into, I ate it straight out of the container and it quickly made its way into my top three favorite items from this month’s box.
| Bon Bon Bum Lollipops |
Made by one of the oldest candy manufacturers in Colombia, these are the Bon Bon Bum lollipops. Though they come in multiple different flavors and can also be found in some places throughout the US, the flavors included in the Universal Yums box are mango and passion fruit which are two uniquely Colombian flavors. There is also gum in the middle of the lollipop for a little surprise once you get through to the center.
Lollipops can be found pretty much anywhere and though the flavors can be different and range between many different ones, the concept stays the same. There isn’t much to say about these lollipops other than the fact that the passion fruit ones are much better than the mango ones. I’m not really someone who is into the flavor of mango and I’ve never really tasted passion fruit so I wasn’t too sure about these candies but the passion fruit ones ended up tasting really good and tropical. Of course I wasn’t a fan of the mango ones but they’re not terrible.
So there you have it, August’s Universal Yums box! I was really happy with the service and though I was a bit nervous to order this since I am such a picky eater I ended liking almost everything which is a plus. Stay tuned for next month’s review of the Universal Yums box when we’ll be heading on a whole new adventure in a new country.
Let me know in the comments which Colombian treat you would most like to try and also if you would ever subscribe to the Universal Yums box if you don’t already have it.
Click here for more information or to order your own Universal Yums box.