Last Call: The best food and drink subscription boxes

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Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

I’m either a very difficult person to buy a gift for, because I don’t ask for anything specific, or a very easy person to buy a gift for because I’m ecstatic about unwrapping just about anything. [Or you have very obvious obsessions, like Baby Yoda.] I’ve always been happy to receive subscription boxes because they promise that moment of anticipation and revelation on a monthly basis, for anywhere from three to twelve months. But I’ve found that not all are created equal.

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Some subscription boxes come across as nothing more than quick cash grabs, sending the least amount possible at the highest cost and leveraging the appeal of the itty-bitty samples to hawk the overpriced full-size versions of whatever they send. Others are rather transparently using the “gift box” model as a way to offload unwanted overstock. The best boxes have one or more of the following attributes:

  • An attentive customer service team
  • An option to curate the box to your individual tastes
  • A mix of useful and totally frivolous items
  • The package’s contents are interesting enough that you’ll want to receive more than one
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One box that I’m enjoying at the moment is Winc, a wine subscription service that allows you to customize each box and select the day that it’s sent to you (a big plus, since you’ll probably have to sign for it). The bottles are high quality—or at least, they’re on par with the slightly splurgier bottles I get at the wine shop—and most are exclusive to the Winc service, so you don’t get the feeling that you’re being shipped grocery store castoffs at a premium price. Since we’re not getting upcharged on alcohol at any bars or restaurants these days, the time has felt right for Winc.

Another great box is Treats, which I received as a birthday gift just before quarantine and has been a highlight of my days at home ever since. Each month Treats sends a box of candy and snacks from a particular country, along with a notecard explaining each item, since the labels are usually not in English, and the best ways to enjoy certain snacks like a local would. (My Korean box featured a Mallomar-type goodie, and the note indicated that many people prefer eating them frozen. A revelation!) Best of all, when my Hungary shipment was lost in the mail, Treats not only sent an immediate replacement but included some Japanese Kit Kats in the box as an apology. Japanese Kit Kats! This company knows its audience.

Have you given or received any good food subscriptions lately? Have you found, as I have, that they’re a fun way to break up the monotony of being at home, a good reason to run to the door when you hear the buzzer?

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

Dr Emilio Lizardo

By far and away, the best subscription is Bark Box.