NEW YORK — Americans really love their snacks, but will they pay to have them delivered to their mailboxes?
That’s the bet behind new snack delivery services that want to inject an element of surprise into the snacking ritual. Rather than letting people pick what they want, the companies usually assemble packages based on the customer’s general preferences.
Martin Abrams, marketing director of the 301 innovation unit at General Mills, likened the company’s new Nibblr snack delivery service to the music subscription service Pandora, which offers personalized radio stations based on music people like. He called it the attraction of the “controlled surprise.”
Here’s a look at what three services promise:
HOW IT WORKS: The company started in the United Kingdom in 2008 and arrived in the U.S. late last year, where CEO Alexander Fletcher says it already has 100,000 subscribers.
People pick whether they want a regular or a calorie-counter box, with the latter delivering only snacks that are 50 to 150 calories. There are only four single-serving snacks per box.
There are about 100 different snacks in the rotation, including dried fruit, nuts, savory snack mixes and miniature granola bars.
DELIVERY: The boxes, which fit into standard mailboxes, are delivered weekly, every two weeks or once a month by the U.S. Postal Service. Delivery isn’t available for Alaska or Hawaii.
PRICE: $6 a box, including delivery. With four snacks to a box, that works out to about $1.50 per snack.
HOW IT WORKS: A box is delivered each month that contains five, 10 or 20 bags of snacks. These snacks don’t come in individual portions; each bag is 4 to 6 ounces and contains what is supposed to be three to five servings.
“We try to keep it under 150 calories (per serving), but that’s not the main focus,” said Ken Chen, chief marketing officer. “Our main focus is providing wholesome, natural food.”
Many customers are moms looking for better snacks for the family who don’t live near a health food store, he said. The service also lets subscribers choose the snacks they want.
Those who want to be surprised can still indicate preferences such as “no sugar added,” “vegan” or “gluten conscious.”
DELIVERY: Monthly deliveries are made by the U.S. Postal Service.
PRICE: A box with five snacks costs $19.95, 10 bags cost $29.95 and 20 bags cost $49.95. Deliveries outside the continental U.S. have additional shipping fees.
HOW IT WORKS: The concept from General Mills seems modeled after Graze. The boxes also fit in mailboxes and are delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
Customers can’t pick which snacks they want, although the company is considering adding that option. But people are encouraged to rate snacks they’ve tried so that the deliveries can be better tailored to their tastes.
There are four single-serving snacks per box, as with Graze. About 70 percent of the options are 150 calories or less.
DELIVERY: Boxes are delivered weekly, every other week or once a month.
PRICE: One box is $5.99. Paying for four boxes at a time costs $23 or 12 boxes at a time for $66.