Thursday, 23 May 2013

Healthy Surprise Review - May 2013 - Healthy Snack Subscription Box


**March 2014 - The pricing model, shipping costs, and box descriptions have changed since I reviewed this box. To see the current box details and pricing, click here.** 

What is it? Healthy Surprise
How Much? 
  • Starter Box: $33/month + $6.99 shipping PLUS another $9.99 to Canada
  • Healthy Box $66/month (free US shipping) PLUS $13.99 to Canada
  • Large Box $99/month (free US shipping)  PLUS $19.99 to Canada
What's in it? Full Size healthy snacks. 
  • Starter Box gives 16-20 servings (1-2 people)
  • Healthy Box gives 32-40 servings (1-4 people)
  • Large Box gives 48-60 servings (2-6 people)

I found a great deal online at Plum District, offering $20 off  a Healthy Surprise subscription. I decided to order a Starter Box to try it out. Prior to finding this coupon, Healthy Surprise was out of my price range. The Starter Box is $33 a month, plus $6.99 shipping PLUS they charge Canadians an additional $9.99 for shipping (charged after the box ships), so Canadians end up paying $49.98 per month, $16.98 of that in shipping charges alone.

I e-mailed Healthy Surprise on May 19th, to inqurie why Canadians are dinged twice on the Starter Box (charged $6.99 US shipping rate plus $9.99 Canadian shipping rate). I questioned if the additional Canadian charge should only be $3, to bring the total shipping cost for Canadians to $9.99 instead of $16.98. It makes no sense for the Starter Box to charge $16.98 additional shipping when the larger, Healthy Box, only charges $13.99 in additional shipping. I was hoping to share their reply with you, but I have yet to receive one.
Update: I received a reply May 29th. The rep said the pricing is correct ($6.95 plus additional $9.99). The Healthy and Large boxes ship for free within the US, which is why there is only one charge to Canadians on those ones instead of two. The rep also wrote that they get charged $15-17 to ship the Starter Box to Canada so they are "actually eating a bit of it in the interest of keeping the cost lower".  What that really means is they are subsidizing the shipping on Healthy & Large boxes while people ordering Starter boxes are paying full pull.

As for the box itself...

Everything in a Healthy Surprise box is natural, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free and healthy! All the snacks in a Healthy Surprise box are said to be full size.

I signed up for Healthy Surprise on May 11th and my first box shipped on May 13th, arriving on May 21st. It probably would have been hear sooner if not for the May long weekend.


First look


Second first look.

The box is packaged well, with lots of nice finishing touches, like two coloured tissue paper, and a welcome note affixed to the inside of the box lid. There is no product info card, which is a bit of a bummer. I had to Google each product to find out more about it and get an estimated price.



Alive Radiant Foods - Kale Krunch in Southwest Ranch flavour (63g/2.2oz bag, $5.99)
Southwest Ranch Kale Krunch blends garlic and our secret list of spices with habanero peppers so each bag finishes with a kick.  Although your taste buds won’t believe it, we swear that it’s vegan.  In each bag you'll find full kale leaves that have been dehydrated for a satisfying crunch.

I like making kale chips at home using garlic chili salt and a bit of olive oil. I've tried one brand of packaged kale chips before and I didn't enjoy them too much.


Enjoy Life - Plentils Lentil Chips in Light Sea Salt flavour (23g/0.8oz bag, $1)
What makes this great-tasting snack so unique? From ancient times to the present, the lentil has proven to be one of the best sources of plant-based protein. This legume is a staple in diets throughout the world, but leave it to Enjoy Life to capture the essence of its all-natural goodness. This chip's unique recipe results in a protein-packed, crunchy experience, bursting with flavor as you savor a great-tasting "better-for-you" chip.

I recently tried a different brand of lentil chips and I loved them! Eaten with hummus it's such a great snack. I do take issue with Healthy Surprise claiming this bag is full size though. The website shows a full size bag as 4 ounces, while this snack bag is less than 1 ounce.



Brothers All Natural - Fuji Apple Crisps (7g/0.25oz bag, $1)
Our Fuji Apple Fruit Crisps are a favorite snack among children and adults.  These light, sweet snacks are often called "apple chips" because of their thin, crunchy texture.  Unlike other freeze-dried fruit, our Apple Fruit Crisps have the same nutrition as fresh Fuji Apples.  What a fun, delicious way to get two servings of fruit! 


I love apple chips and make them regularly at home in my dehydrator or with my Epicure Chipster. It seems like all the pieces in this bag have been broken into smithereens though so I may have to sprinkle them into some yogourt or in with some cereal. This is supposed to be a full size bag, but it is actually a little snack size bag. A full size bag is 1 ounce and contains 2 servings of fruit. The snack bag contains 0.25 ounces and contains 1 serving of fruit.


Crunchies - Freeze Dried Pineapple (9g/0.33oz bag, $1.69)
Crunchies Freeze Dried Pineapples are 100% all natural. The only thing taken out of the pineapples through the freeze drying process is water; there are absolutely no additives or preservatives. That means no added sugars, oils or sulphur. They’re non-GMO, wheat and gluten free, but rich in antioxidants and nutrients. Less water equals more flavor and a satisfying crunch that both kids and adults love. All this and only 25 calories per serving! Crunchies Pineapple comes in a convenient resealable bag that’s great for kids lunches, hiking, school, work, or an any time snack on-the-go. You can also add them to pancakes, cereal, yogurt, ice cream, and so many other creations. Crunchies are truly Nature's Ultimate Snack Food. 

I love dried fruit and I love pineapple so this is a great one for me. I take issue again with Healthy Surprise calling this a full size product. Crunchies calls this size a "Munch Pack" and it's meant as a single serving. Crunchies considers a full size bag to be 1.5 ounces.



Hail Merry - Almonds in Vanilla Maple flavour (25g/0.88oz bag, $1.85)
Perfect to pack in lunches or for portable snacks.We dehydrate our nuts at low temperatures to protect them from oxidation.  Merry’s buttery tasting Vanilla Maple blend is richly layered with pure organic Madagascar bourbon vanilla. Royal snacking to uplift your days. 

Yet another snack pack size passed off as full size. Hail Merry doesn't even sell these snack packs individually, only in larger package bundles. A full size is actually 1.75 ounces. I'm happy with the product because I love almonds but I don't consider this a full size product as Healthy Surprise claims. Snack size is NOT the same as full size.



Hail Merry - Macaroons in Caramel Sea Salt flavour (100g/3.5oz bag, $5)
Merry's Newest Dessert Snack Sensation! We worked hard to make these treats the most luxurious, best tasting macaroons you will ever try with hints of organic maple syrup and exotic vanilla with a finish of perfectly balanced saltiness.  Dehydrated at low temps and made with pure ingredients, enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth macaroons at room temp.

A recipe card was included in the box showing how to turn these macaroons into mini apple pies. They look amazing and I will probably be trying them out this weekend. I'm not a huge fan of macaroons (unless they are of the French variety!), but the idea of caramel and sea salt mixed with baked apples and coconut... it kind of gets me excited!



Peter Rabbit Organics - Banana & Apple Fruit Snack (113g/4oz pouch, $1.80)
We’ve simply blended the best organic bananas and apples to give you a delicious, grab-and-go snack option. If apples and bananas are your top fruits then this is for you. Just full of simple, fruity goodness ready to be enjoyed.

This product looks like baby food to me. It doesn't say baby food, but I'm pretty sure it is. My niece eats from little pouches like this all the time. I will either save it for her or squeeze out the contents into a smoothie.



Alter Eco - Dark Almond Chocolate Bar (80g/2.82oz bar, $3.99)
Toasty nut complements deep, dark chocolate for a dry and delicious treat. Sourced from Ecuador.

I love quality chocolate so I was happy to see this product. It contains 60% coco which is perfect. Not too bitter. I like to keep quality dark chocolate bars around and break a piece off here and there when I'm feeling a craving.



Gopal's - Rawma Bar in Walnut Fig flavour (51g/1.8oz bar, $1.80)
This rich and fruity nut bar is liked by one and all!

Based on the ingredients this seems to be similar to a Larabar, which I love, so I'm looking forward to trying this one.



Thunderbird Energetica - Sweet Lemon Rain Dance Quinoa bar (48g/1.7oz bar, $2)
The Sweet Lemon Rain Dance is an apricot-based bar (and thus, lower glycemic option).  Combining the sweetness of lemon with cashews could not be any more delicious!!!  Sweet Lemon is a great "balanced" bar alternative in that it is lower in sugar content (thanks to lower sugar content of apricots) and higher in protein (thanks to quinoa and pea) without added nut fats!

This bar is a curious one. It claims to have been "shaman-blessed". The wrapper is compostable and I like the ingredient list.


George Delights - Just Fruit Bar in Apple Raspberry flavour (40g/1.4oz bar, $1.80)
Each JustFruit bar packs a powerful, pure energy punch, individually packaged and very convenient for those on the go. The 2 year shelf life & durable packaging make them ideal for lunches, stuffing in a purse or pocket, or packing along on a hike or bike ride.

I love fruit snacks and I love products that come in bars (great for biking) so this will be gobbled up in no time. I've been wanting to make my own fruit leathers in my dehydrator so maybe this will be my motivation.


I'm iffy on this Starter Box. While I love the product mix and the quality of all the products included, I'm not impressed with the value. I received 11 products (16 servings) with an estimated value of $27.92. I paid $29.98 for this box, including shipping and that was with a $20 discount code. Had I paid full price, this box would have cost me $49.98!! Even without shipping, the starter box costs $33. I at least want the products I receive to be equal to what the box is worth. (Thankfully this specific box was almost equal to what I paid, but only because of the promo.)

There is also the issue with snack size versus full size. Healthy Surprise claims to include only "full size" products  I ended up with 4 products that are referred to by the producers themselves as "snack size" and are only a fraction of the size of the full size product. Snack size IS NOT full size. Snack size is the same as sample size. I don't feel Healthy Surprise lived up to its promise to include all full size products.

Between the low value and the number of products that aren't truly full size, I am not impressed with Healthy Surprise. If the box was priced around $30 per month WITH shipping, I might have a different opinion. Ultimately, the shipping is what makes this box most unattractive. At $50 per month, it is far more than I am willing to spend and far more than it is worth. Like I said, $30 a month, including shipping, no problem. I'd be super impressed and happy with everything I received (although perhaps still ticked at the "snack sized" items). Instead it's $33 a month plus $16.98 shipping, which makes no sense. I will not be continuing with Healthy Surprise and have cancelled my subscription. I noticed upon cancelling, Healthy Surprise will allow you to modify your subscription to receive it bi-monthly (6 boxes per year) or quarterly (4 boxes per year) instead of outright cancelling. I briefly considered this, but $50 is still too expensive, even if only 4 times per year. They would have to boost the value of the box to make it worth while for Canadians. 

Plum District currently has a FREE coupon for $20 off a Healthy Surprise subscription. You just need a Plum District account to claim your coupon code. Click here. This offer expires July 31, 2013. You can sign up and receive one box at the discounted rate, like I did, then cancel your subscription.

8 comments:

  1. Very thorough review and although these snacks all look delicious I am not at all impressed and will definitely not order from this place! $17 shipping? Eek! For that price I'm not even tempted by the discounted subscription, though thanks for sharing the info. I'm a newer subscriber but I really love your site :)

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    1. Thanks! Yes $17 for shipping is unreal. If it was just $9.99 it would be fine but I don't like being gauged with an extra $6.99 charge. And they still haven't replied to 2 e-mail inquiries about the way they calculate shipping on the Starter box.

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  2. This sub. box is a no-go for me.

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  4. Thanks for your review

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  5. there are so many great products that are available in the US that i would love to try - this box is a great way to try these products, but i agree shipping is way to expensive.

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    1. I'm going to look into GFreely or Vegan Cuts next. Their boxes are cheaper and shipping is more affordable.

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  6. Healthy Surprise recently lowered their int'l shipping to Canada. It's now $10 for the Starter and $14 for the Big Box. So far I haven't paid any duties or taxes either, which is a huge plus when ordering from the US. The only thing that blows is that our CDN dollar is on the decline big time, but I still see it as good value compared to prices in Toronto (esp. with 13% HST).

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