• Shona McCarthy

The Tokyo Treat Box - Worth It? You Decide

If you've been online much in the past few month and you have a strong interest in Japanese pop culture you might have seen Tokyo Treat boxes marketed on your social media. But are they worth it for the money? You might remember my previous post where I extoll the virtues of the SakuraCo box. And it was a most excellent box. The Tokyo Treat box is the same size. But it is a very different experience.

I wouldn't normally go in for this sort of thing. But the Tokyotreat box promised to be a collection of classic sakura item in a box. For years I had longed to sample various sakura themed drinks and snacks. So I was so excited to get my "Sakura Surprise" Tokyo Treat Box. I was also thinking that since the classic box promised to be "12 full size items" that it was well worth the money.

This is how the "Sakura Surprise" Tokyo Treat Box is marketed on its own website. So you can imagine that I was expecting to get something like a sakura matsuri in a box.

This is what came. I don't like leaving bad reviews or making complains. I'm a business owner myself, so I know what a nightmare it is to be permanently penalised over one small mistake. So I'm going to show you all the pictures of what came in the box, with a pair of adult size scissors for scale, and you can make your own judgements about whether or not it was worth the $37.50 USD + shipping I paid for it.

The booklet that the box comes with includes a handy guide on what everything in the box is. So in case you are thinking that they had forgotten any items or that I simply had bad luck, you can see the booklet for yourself. Each description of each item tries to emphasise the idea that they are related to sakura. Do the items in the classic box actually have anything to do with sakura? Have a look and see what you think for yourself.

Of the items that were in the box, I could see only one that was apparently related to sakura as far as I could tell. Though I will note that when I later opened the popcorn I found the flavour profile much more complex and interesting than the "salty" description would indicate. There was a subtle sweetness, and a strong umami finish which told me that the creators had put more thought into the snack than had seemed to be the case.

This was the item I was most excited about. If one could buy it individually, it would be immensely good value, since you can take even just one of those cute little marshmallow petals and put them in or on just about any food or drink and make it seem as though it has been graced by a falling sakura petal. Never mind the fact that in terms of taste and texture they are quite nice. Before buying the box, I tried to locate these elsewhere but could find no source where they weren't already sold out, until I used the details on the bag to find the company online store!!! I really wanted to make it last, so after I opened it I put it straight into a plastic container.

Also, since the box can last indefinitely, I see it as being very good value, too. I can keep other snacks in it as time goes by. Every snack you've seen above is what came in the box, aside from a squid lemon flavoured cracker I ate before taking the photos. It would be silly to argue about the way most of these snacks would cost about $2 USD in Japan, since part of the point of ordering one of these boxes is so that you don't have to go to Japan to get these things. I think we can agree, a full trip to Tokyo would cost much more than one of these boxes. Also, if you think of the box as the opportunity to try Japanese snacks you wouldn't normally be able to find, then it is good value in that sense. Certainly, the squid flavour snack did really taste like lemons and squid. But if you want to buy TokyoTreat because you think you'll be buying snacks in bulk and therefore saving money that way, I have to stop you right there. You would be better off seeing Asian grocers in your home city if you have them. For the same amount of money I could have filled a quarter of my bedroom with Asian snacks had I bought them here. You may be wondering how TokyoTreat can have so many positive reviews online based on what you have seen. The truth is revealed in a flier that comes inside the booklet. TokyoTreat ironically turns disappointed customers into positive reviews by offering them the chance to win more kit kats if they go and leave positive reviews all over the internet. You may want to argue, "But they don't say to leave good reviews..." But few people would be bold enough to leave bad reviews in hopes of getting free items from that company, and I suspect the owners of TokyoTreat know this full well. The company also attracts more good press by offering people more chances to win prizes by making posts in their online accounts.

- Muh Feelingz -

As I've said, I dislike to complain. So I haven't directly contacted Tokyo Treat about this. I honestly don't know what to say to them. But when you consider that Japanese Kit Kats usually come individually wrapped I can't help but feel that they could have opened up a bag and at least dropped in a few. Even if they couldn't put in small sizes of the promised fried chicken chips. I also have a very meagre case for complaint. The pricing system does clearly indicate that the classic TokyoTreat box will contain 5 items fewer than the premium TokyoTreat box. This is even thought the website never directly tells you what items will be excluded. As a business owner, I can very much understand the need to maximise profits for the sake of survival. But I can't help but feel that TokyoTreat may be misunderstanding the significance of the customer experience in some ways. Subscription services very much hinge upon the idea that most of your customers will be repeat customers. While it can be argued that they do say the contents of a mystery box or bag should usually be a surprise, for the customer to desire to return it has to be a pleasant surprise. Even before my boxes arrived, I had been considering creating my own box experience for my own customers. And having gone through the excitement of thinking I would finally get to try sakura kit kat and not having the chance to, I can see why it is so important to make sure that all customer surprises are pleasant if you would like them to come back.

So, if you have had disappointing mystery box experiences, I would like you to contact me. While I can't guarantee my boxes would be cheaper to buy, I have it in mind to make the items inside much better value. Things that can last and be of practical use like condiments and crockery. Things that can turn into real cultural experiences like DIY kits. I might still try to offer people incentives for marketing online for me. But I still want to try to be really honest in my dealings with people. I don't see much point in a business that makes a lot of money but doesn't actually add to the quality of people's lives. This is partly why the reviews in my Etsy store are largely so positive. If you like, you could come and see my store below:

I try to offer people Japanese and Japanese style goods and services that make it easier and more fun to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle. I'm always open to new ideas and suggestions from people, so if you want to make some recommendations I'd be very happy to hear from you.

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