Sunday, March 15, 2015

Food52 Quarterly Review #F5211

I've had bad luck with Quarterly subscriptions.  The first one I ever signed up for was Harry Shum, Jr.'s, which ended after one box.  Then I signed up for Liz's from, and that ended after two boxes (I only got one).  Then I signed up for Renarda Joy's box, which ended before she even curated a box.  I finally decided to try Food52's box, since they're one of my favorite food blogs, but I ended up cancelling after one box--read on to find out why.

*Disclaimer: This box was purchased by See, Shop, Love! Post contains affiliate links.

Quarterly is a bit different than other subscriptions because they have boxes for a wide range of interests. Their boxes ship every three months (hence the name), and you can choose from curators like Bill Nye, Ariana Huffington, and Wil Wheaton.  Box prices range from $50 to $100.

Quarterly also recently made a few changes and added an $8 shipping charge to all boxes.  $50 is already expensive for a box, even a quarterly box, so I made the decision right then and there that this would likely be my last box from any curator.  Since the announcement was made after people had signed up to receive boxes for this quarter, Quarterly said it would go into effect with the next batch of shipments.

I settled on Food52's box (Food52 is made up of Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs) because I enjoy reading their blog, and the spoilers said that the box would be "all about staying warm this winter season.  Treat yourself to decadent hot cocoa while curling up with a good book."  Sounds good to me!

The box contained three full-sized items, the first of which was the La Boîte Yemen Hot Chocolate ($18 for 11 oz).  It's made up for 54% cacao, sugar, Yemen N. 10, ginger, cinnamon, and spices.  I had no idea what Yemen N. 10 was, but it's another La Boîte product that is made up of ginger, cinnamon, and allspice that was originally made to add to coffee.

The instructions say to add 1/3 of a cup to a cup of hot milk, or 4 tablespoons to a cup of boiling water for a "great European-style hot chocolate."  I decided to try the latter method and I didn't like it.  The chocolate melted well enough, but if you let it sit for more than a minute it starts to rise to the top and make a really thick layer of syrup.  I had to keep stirring it up and eventually just dumped it out before finishing the cup.  This is definitely "fancy chocolate," e.g. not like your standard Hershey's bar that most Americans are used to.  I don't mind it, but I don't care for it on its own, so I've been adding a teaspoon to my coffee in the morning for an extra kick of flavor.

The Three Tarts Vanilla Bean Marshmallows ($9.50 for 10 marshmallows) were included to go with the hot chocolate.  I sampled the Cinnamon variety in last year's Snow Day Birchbox and thoroughly enjoyed them, so I was glad a full-sized box was included here.  The mallows are very big, about an inch wide and an inch-and-a-half tall, so I break them in two and only add one half to my drink.  The only ingredients are sugar, glucose (which is sugar, so that seems redundant?), gelatin, vanilla bean paste, and corn starch.  I could do without the gelatin, but these taste pretty good regardless.

Last up is the Hugo Frosch Hot Water Bottle and Sweater.  Their website doesn't have any prices listed, but I found a listing on Amazon for just the bottle that's selling for $16.95.  Similar sweater covers sell for $24.95 from Warm Tradition (who also sells Hugo Frosch bottles), so let's just say the retail value of this is $41.90.

This was my favorite product in the box because I love cozy things!  I've been wanting to purchase a hot water bottle for a while, but it's one of those things that I never really got around to buying because it was more of a want than a need.  Plus, they're kind of expensive, and I had other heating products already.  That being said, I'm glad I got one in this box!

Hugo Frosch hot water bottles are made in Germany.  If you've never used one before, you fill it 2/3 of the way full with hot (but not boiling) water, and then you can use it to keep you warm.  I took mine to bed and placed it near my feet, and it stayed warm for quite some time.  My feet are always cold, even in the summer, so this will be put to good use.

Bottom Line: I liked this box but I didn't love it, so I'm not upset about cancelling my Quarterly subscription.  Assuming my estimate of the value of the hot water bottle and sweater is correct, the total retail value of this box was $69.40, which is more than the $50 price point.  While Quarterly boxes are definitely more about curation than total value, I will say I was a little disappointed with this box.  Sure, the retail value is there, but if you really think about it, the box was made up of hot chocolate, marshmallows, and a hot water bottle.  I liked the hot water bottle, but I can find hot chocolate and marshmallows for much cheaper at my local grocery store.

What do you think of this box?  Are you subscribed to any Quarterly curators?


  1. Hot water bottles are so useful! I use mine all the time, but it doesn't have an awesome "sweater" to go with it, lol. I usually just wrap it in a pillowcase. I love marshmallows, but as far as I know there are only two brands in existence that don't have gelatin or fish gelatin in them. If you want big chunky gourmet-type marshmallows, look for Sweet n Sara brand! You can often find them in the refrigerator case of Whole Foods and stores like that.

    1. Whoops, sorry for the late reply!

      I love the hot water bottle so much, and the sweater makes it so extra cozy. Thanks for the marshmallow recommendation, I will definitely check them out!


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