A good snack box is an utter delight. In this series, I’ve reviewed an array of snack boxes, from the globe-trekking and fun Universal Yums, to the fancy foodie option Try The World, the sweet Candy Club, the sophisticated Chococurb, and the way too random Treatsie. Along the way, readers have occasionally asked me to check out Graze, a subscription service dedicated to healthier snacking. When a free sample box offer crossed my path, I decided why not give it a go.
How It Works
Graze offered me a free box with four snacks, half of what’s included in a standard box. I created an account at their website and answered a brief survey to discern my tastes. Out the gate, Graze warns those with allergies they may want to avoid their service, which is wise if you worry about cross contamination or are remotely allergic to nuts. You do not get to choose your snacks, the service chooses for you. While I found that vexing, it could be downright dangerous for those with severe food allergies. However, you can veto things you don’t like. So I barred anything with raisins (gross) and white chocolate, which isn’t EVEN real chocolate but rather a vile too-sweet blight on the world.
How It Went
The four-snack box came quickly and included: Sweet Memphis Barbecue, Sweet and Spicy Beat Crunch, Peach Cobbler, and Sweet Rhubarb Jam. These names are misleading. The unspoken word next to each is “trail mix” or “party mix” or “jk.” Each packet was smaller than a cellphone, and included a variety of bits. Bits of puffed grains. Bits of nuts. Bits of dried fruits and veg. The occasional hardened yogurt blob. And then they’d evoke the flavors you’re meant to get with the name.
Here is Peach Cobbler.
Sure. Its ensemble of peach bits, nut shards, puff, and yogurt tastes vaguely like peach cobbler. Much like when you combine Jellybelly beans, you can get a “pina colada” flavor. But the snack itself is nowhere near as satisfying as a slice of peach cobbler, so Graze sets you up for disappointment. It’d be like your friend hyping up a movie, being like, “Oh, you know how you love Jurassic Park? You’ll LOVE this.” And then you see it’s The Good Dinosaur. And you’re like, “What is wrong with you!? Yes both things have dinosaurs and action set pieces, but they are in no way similar and liking one won’t mean the other will satisfy the same craving, and hey maybe I actually would have enjoyed the latter if you hadn’t set up the expectation of the former. WHY MUST YOU RUIN EVERYTHING, KAREN!?”
That was my thought on a snack I liked.
Sweet Rhubarb Jam was just rubbery dried fruit. It was fine. It was healthier for me than eating actual rhubarb jam straight out of a jar, I guess. Which is not something I’ve done, but I don’t know your life.
Sweet Memphis Barbecue was crunchy, but calling it barbecue flavored is like calling Pez candy. Like, sure, I guess so. But if you promise me candy and give me Pez, you can really just fuck off.
The promise of beet chips is so compelling that I haven’t touched that package yet, weeks later. I’m hoping my Mister will decide beets as a snack sounds exciting. Look, they’re sweet AND spicy beet chips! WHO CAN RESIST!
So this sample pack was underwhelming to say the least. But I figured to do right by this review, maybe Graze deserved a second shot. So, I ordered a standard box with 8 snacks, for $13.99. Once more, I did not get to choose what I’d receive. The following week, I got: Peanut Butter and Jelly, Jalapeno Cheese Taco, Jelly Donut, The Cheese Board, Natural Vanilla Seeds, Raspberry and Coconut Muffin, Spicy Veggie Protein, and Apple and Cinnamon Flapjack. To be clear, in Graze speak a “flapjack” is a granola bar, a “cheese plate” is cheese-flavored nuts and puffs, and a muffin is more goddamn trail mix.
I quickly gave up on the idea of taking photos of individual snacks, because who cares? It all looks like bits of grit, sometimes colorful, often not. At best, the flavors are fine. None of this will have your mouth watering for more. Yet each packet is so small that they won’t satisfy your snack craving either. Portions are a big selling point of this health-conscious snack subscription. But I was eating two packs at a time, and then while my hunger was sated, I still was missing something. It’s great that Graze has no artificial colors, preservatives or flavors. But natural flavor is a thing that exists. I mean, I’ve had fruit.
Conclusion: I canceled my Graze subscription the day after the second box arrived. $13.99 is too much to pay for too little in quality and quantity. The randomness could have been fine if the flavors were there. Universal Yums and Try The World sent me some real surprises, but the flavors were always bold, even if not always my jam. And you got plenty of options in each box, so the odds of finding something awesome were in your favor. Candy Club lets you pick which treats you want each month, so you can keenly cater to your tastes. While Graze lets you rate your snacks and veto certain options, I saw no way to guarantee I’d get the ones that most appealed. That is unless you individually purchase them at their online store.
Most vexing of all, those damn names. If I want peanut butter and jelly, I don’t want just the flavors of that. I want the texture, the creamy peanut butter, the crunch of its nuts, the gooey jelly. If I want a cheese platter? I want the smell of cheese, that funk, that flavor and the texture. I want the feeling of indulgence. You know which of these was in no way a disappointment? Natural Vanilla Seeds. It wasn’t exciting. It was vanilla flavored seeds. It was all that it promised. But also, never in my life will I think, “You know what I could go for right now? Seeds. But not just any seeds. Seeds with vanilla flavoring.”
Which is all to say I hated Graze. Now excuse me, real cheese is calling my name.
Check out Subscription Addiction reviews for Level Up, Stitch Fix, Try The World, Darby Smart, Treatsie, Chococurb, Loot Crate, Candy Club, Blue Apron, Bright Cellars, Julep, Bright Cellars Cheese, CauseBox, Tasting Board, Box2Bake, and Hello Fresh. In the comments, tell us which subscription service you’d like to see reviewed next.