Surprise! Mystery goodie boxes by mail

1358850392121The one thing that might save the United States Postal Service is the explosion of subscription service boxes. There’s one I’m already hooked on, and one that I may soon be hooked on, and both are ones I think my fellow runners might enjoy.

These subscription box services are all over — I’ve seen ones for jewelry, makeup, pet goodies — and definitely health and fitness. The two I love are Graze, a snack box, and Stridebox, a runner goodie box.

The way these services work is you can get a “box” on a regular basis — different services have different options, but usually something like weekly, biweekly or monthly. You pay a flat fee and receive an assortment of goodies in the mail. It’s like Christmas every month!

Graze was my first experience with one of thesse subscription services, and it really came as a surprise. One day at work, I received this small cardboard box in my mailbox. Maybe 8 inches by 6 inches, and less than an inch thick, without much on the outside. Addressed to my then-new married name, I wasn’t sure what it was but immediately opened it up. (You can imagine how Christmas goes at my house.)

Inside were four single-serve snacks, along with an insert detailing the ingredients and nutrition facts. These aren’t typical snacks, either. They’re healthy and designed to hit all the key flavor profiles.

It took 36 hours of me thinking I had signed up for a trial of this late at night and forgotten before I asked my husband about it. He said, “You like snacks. I thought I’d send you snacks.” So now, every other week, I get a sweet treat from my sweet.

Jelly Donut!

Jelly doughnut — almond slivers, raspberry fruit strings, raspberry infused cranberries and vanilla cookie drops.

I distinctly remember one in that first box called Jelly Donut, which had some cookie pieces, raspberry fruit strings, white chocolate chips and other bits. Eaten all together, I’ll be darned if it didn’t taste exactly like a jelly donut.

Carmel Apple was another hit, with dried apple slices and a carmel sauce that wasn’t too sweet.

You can set your preferences, including calorie counts and ingredients (for instance, I’m the only runner on the planet who hates bananas), and you can rate each item you receive — like, love, try, or hate.

Caramel Apple — sticky caramel sauce with granny smith apple slices, and only 80 calories!

Caramel Apple — sticky caramel sauce with granny smith apple slices, and only 80 calories!

Graze lets you set the frequency with which you receive the boxes, and each box is just $7. You can spend a lot more on way more boring snacks! Visit graze.com to learn more or sign up. You can check out all the snack options on their website.

Stridebox is one I’ve looked at for a while but hadn’t pulled the trigger on. I’ve read reviews and looked at other’s boxes, but I wasn’t quite sold. I can be kind of picky on what types of products I use, and after working at a running store for five years, there’s not much I haven’t seen.

But, my family was nagging me for a gift list this holiday season, so I put Stridebox on there on a whim. My sister signed me up, and my first box just arrived.

Stridebox — a monthly assortment of running goodies in your mailbox.

Stridebox — a monthly assortment of running goodies in your mailbox!

Stridebox is only sent monthly, and each box contains 6-8 products ranging from apparel, nutrition and accessories. It includes both sample and full size products.

I received a pretty good mix of items.  A running pouch — one that goes around your waist, with a stretchy zipper pocket — retails for more than the cost of the box. This is an example of something I wouldn’t really use, but I will hang on to it and gift it to someone else.

Most of my box was nutrition products, three brands I know and one that’s new to me. There’s a Bonk Breaker protein bar in cookies and cream flavor that I’m excited to try, a peanut butter Hammer Gel (love their stuff, not sure about the flavor), some Muscle Milk energy chews (like Honey Stinger chews), and Zipfizz drink tabs.

A Stridebox full of goodies. Hammer Gel, Bonk Breaker, Zipfizz, Paper Shower, a waist pouch ...

A Stridebox full of goodies. Hammer Gel, Bonk Breaker, Zipfizz, Paper Shower, a waist pouch …

The last item in the box was “Paper Shower,” which includes a wet towelette and a dry towelette so you can shower on the go. This will definitely go into my gym bag and get tested on a night that I run between the regular work day and an evening board meeting.

Every Stridebox also includes a fun sticker, all for the low price of $15 per box. If you’re a runner who likes to try new things, it’s a nice way to get a sample box and test things out. Visit stridebox.com for more info.

Graze has been so great several people in my office have signed up. Stridebox I’m not quite sold on yet, but I will likely either sign up for a few more months or, at the very least, remember to read more reviews on past boxes.

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