I’ve been a Graze Box subscriber on and off since 2011, and have as a whole have really enjoyed the service. I figured I was going to write about one eventually, so why not now?
This is a one off box strangely titled ‘Best of the USA’, created to showcase some of their newest USA inspired snacks. I say strangely, because I wouldn’t think anyone would argue the bit that s’mores, New York everything bagels, ranch flavoured pop corn or fruit flavour gummies are the best things to take from the USA in terms of food. I can literally think of dozens of other things unique to the USA that could be converted into snacks. ‘A taste of the USA’, possibly with the subtitle ‘inspired by USA, created for UK’, might have been a more truthful title!
Inside the box there are four individual snack portions and an information leaflet. I always like the designs inside the lid, with this box featuring a thematic American flag. The designs are usually close up shots of seasonal fruit/veg, in my experience.
The information leaflet gives you a run down of the inspiration behind the snack, while the reverse side gives nutritional information, allergy information, use by date and ingredients. I’ve never like that the use by date is only printed in the leaflet and not on the snack packs themselves as I always lose the leaflet, so I generally draw the use by date on each box in sharpie. If it works, it works! 😉
There are also some codes to hand out to friends, if you are so inclined.
First up, we have Stars and Stripes. This snack is made up of blackcurrant flavoured stars, raspberry flavoured fruit strings and blueberry infused cranberries.
I’m a little disappointed that this one has nothing to do with the USA flavour wise (at least nothing unique to the USA), but visually it is very cute and quite a creative take on the American theme.
The stars and stripes themselves are very yummy, fruit gummies from Graze are basically a cross between gummie sweets and dried fruit. They are smooth in texture, but you can still tell you are eating dried fruit as opposed to sweets. They are sugar free so don’t taste artificially sweet but still have a strong naturally sweet, if slightly fermented, taste.
The blueberry infused cranberries are very tasty too. I find dried fruit very hit and miss (mostly miss) from Graze, but their infused fruits are always interesting. You get the taste of both the cranberry and blueberry, which is an awesome combination with an overall sweet and balanced flavour. The flavour is very mild compared to the stars or stripes, so they are a little overwhelmed in the mix, but they add a nice bit of texture.
All of the flavours have somewhat merged in transit, so while these may all have been amazing individual flavours in the Graze kitchen they have all started to taste pretty much the same by the time it got to me. It’s not a massive issue as the flavours all compliment each other well anyway so it’s quite a delicious mix 🙂
I’d give Stars and Stripes a 10/10
Next we have New York Everything Bagel. These are crunchy little breadsticks flavoured with poppy seeds, sesame seeds and onion. I do believe a true everything bagel should have garlic and caraway seeds as well (I really wish they’d added the garlic), so perhaps this would be better named ‘almost everything bagel’ 😉
The main flavour in these comes from the sesame seeds, it tastes like a toasted sesame seed bagel. You get a hint of poppy seed and onion every so often but the sesame dominates it to me. Maybe they should have scrapped the everything tag altogether and just called this ‘sesame bagel’ as it fits that perfectly.
I’d give the New York Everything Bagel a 7/10, the balance isn’t quite there and the burnt sesame taste builds a little too much. They are tasty, just not quite there yet.
This was the snack that caught my attention in the first place; Campfire S’mores. I love s’mores! In this pack you get salted almond milk chocolate buttons, vanilla sponge drops and mini vanilla marshmallows.
The sponge drops I’ve had before in various Graze creations, they are dried out, slightly soft and airy pieces of sponge. Think Jaffa Cake that’s been left out of the packet for a while and you’ve got the texture about right. They’re quite a novel thing, pretty good both taste and texture wise, though personally I find the vanilla a little too strong/cloying in them.
The mini vanilla marshmallows are really awesome. I wish I had a box full of just them. They have a lovely level of vanilla flavouring, sweet but not overpowering. Texture wise they are really interesting, they’re quite chewy and are somewhere between a freeze dried marshmallow (like what you’d find in Lucky Charms cereal) and a regular marshmallow. I loved them!
The salted almond buttons were probably my least favourite thing in this pack. The almond and chocolate have combined to make a very sickly sweet and cloying flavour that somehow is neither chocolate nor almond. The salt in these is very light handed, but when you get a piece it does cut through the sickly flavour nicely. Perhaps if they had more salt (or at least more evenly distributed salt) they would lose their sickening aspect.
One thing I have learned over the years is that some Graze snacks are best enjoyed as individual pieces, while others are best enjoyed with a little bit of everything crammed into one mouthful. Since they are trying to replicate a s’more, I figured these would be the latter. In this respect, they were a disappointment.
The biggest let down to me is that graham crackers are not represented in any way flavour wise. Yes, you’ve got the crunch from the almond buttons which is interesting, but tastes nothing like a graham cracker. In fact, the sickly almond adds far too much sweetness where the graham would add balance. The sponge pieces feel strange and out of place, with their easily overwhelmed flavour and empty texture, and again do not replicate the graham element at all. They pretty much get lost in the mix. It’s an interesting and quite tasty mouthful, but is it a s’more? No, not really. It’s far nicer to pick through and eat each piece individually, which is sad as it feels like it missed the point of the concept.
I’d give the S’mores an 8/10, most of which is for the delicious marshmallows. This one just didn’t seem to go together properly at all.
Lastly, we have a mistake. Now, the website named these as Creamy Ranch Kern Pops. The front of the leaflet agrees. However, the lid on the snack pot clearly states Sour Cream and Onion Kern Pops, as does the ingredients list on the back of the leaflet. That’s a pretty obvious inconsistency I feel they should have addressed not in the least because while similar, sour cream and onion is not the same as ranch.
I don’t know what these are trying to be, but in any case I was not impressed. The flavour was mostly badly popped corn kernel, not seasoning. When you look at the ingredients list the flavours are there, it should work, but somehow it just doesn’t.
See that little black unpopped kernal in the centre of the ring of popped ones? Yeah. That put me off the entire pack. I bit into it, since there are quite a few dark unpopped kernels in the pack, and it was absolutely disgusting. It tasted like mold! Did you seriously put a rotten kernel in my snack pack or have you somehow perfectly recreated the taste of moldy food? Needless to say I didn’t feel like eating anymore after that.
These are a 0/10 from me. I can’t find a positive at all. From the inconsistent labeling, the barely there flavour and the rotten moldy tasting unpopped kernels, this one was just an outright failure. Sorry, but no. This just wasn’t cool, Graze.
This is a tough one to score overall. I loved the concept, but as a whole felt it wasn’t executed very well. Certainly, the box did not live up to the ‘Best of USA’ title. One snack was really good, two were good but not quite balanced and not quite as the name would suggest, and one was rotten (perhaps literally).
I love you dearly Graze, but this box was a let down. Dividing up into two marks per snack and two for concept execution, I’d give the box a 5/10.