Unboxing Unbox Akron

A couple of weeks ago, I returned to my apartment and saw a box sitting outside my door. Knowing it was way too big for a Christmas gift I was waiting on, I had no clue what it was. I picked up the box, covered in colorful duct tape and stamps, flipped it over, and squealed with excitement when I saw the Unbox Akron logo. I had been waiting for this day for months.


In the spring, Knight Foundation awarded Chris Horne a grant of more than $50,000 to create Unbox Akron. According to the organization’s page on Knight Foundation’s website, the idea would “[foster] a stronger connection to the city by creating a subscription service that celebrates Akron with a monthly selection of local goods and experiences delivered in a box.” Now that I’ve seen the contents of the first box, I know Horne and Roger Riddle — curator of the boxes — are already succeeding in this mission.

I went to The University of Akron and commuted to work for nearly six years. During that time, the city never truly captivated me. However, in I moved to Akron in January and fall in love with city more each day, thanks to the people, businesses, restaurants, events and more. Unbox Akron will strengthen my bond to the city by reminding me of the things I already love and introduce me to things I would have never thought to seek out.

Below is a list of what was in the December box and my thoughts on each item. I’ve also included the real-time Snapchat video I took as I dug through all the goodies. Make sure you head over to the Unbox Akron website to sign up to get a box of your own in the future! You never know what could land on your doorstep.

I was a wee bit excited… Can you tell?
  • Frosted Sugar Cookies from West Side Bakery
    I only wanted to take one bite of a cookie for the Snapchat video. One bite turned into two, and then half of the cookie was gone. I re-taped the package and left it on the counter. But the cookie kept whispering my name. “Rachel… get off the couch and come get me. I miss you…” I think my willpower only lasted an hour before I devoured the rest of the cookie. The second one was inhaled a few days later. Moral of the story: Run to West Side Bakery and get one for yourself; I don’t have any left to share.
  • T-shirt from NORKA Sparkling Beverages
    NORKA came to my attention last summer when they provided samples of their craft soda at a few Soap Box Derby events. However… I haven’t yet tried them. My liquid diet mostly consists of water and coffee — the less sugar the better. But I grabbed this bottle of orange soda the last time I was at the store. After it chills down in the fridge, I’ll have to see what all the buzz is about.
Who loves orange soda? Akron.
  • Free ice skating rental at Lock 3
    A few years ago, my sister, cousins and I went ice skating at Lock 3. It was a lot different than the rinks I was used to. (And by “used to” I mean the three or fours I had gone ice skating in the three years prior.) With five free rentals, I’ll have to round up friends and family and head downtown for this fun winter experience.
  • Bottle cap magnets — ft. Akron landmarks: The Black Keys sign at Lock 3, RubberDucks mascot, Luigi’s sign
    The magnets are already stuck on my fridge, mixed in with my coffee and dinosaur magnets. Now who wants to have a pizza party (with a side of cheese salad) and listen to The Black Keys?
  • The Devil Strip sticker
    Akronites: Pleeeeeease tell me you’ve snagged at least one copy of The Devil Strip in the past year. If not, you’re missing out on some great articles about the people and places of Akron. If you can’t find a copy at your favorite business (Nuevo, Land of Plenty, Nervous Dog… just to name a few), you can read past issues and current articles online. Chris Horne (remember him from earlier?) also started this publication. The Georgia native is shaking up Akron, and we should all be grateful.
  • Dum Dum suckers
    Dum Dum suckers aren’t made in Akron. However, they are made in Bryan, Ohio (in the far north-west corner of the state). They’re delicious tiny treats, so in this case the item’s origin makes no difference to me.
    *update* Dum Dums were created by the Akron Candy Co. in 1924.
  • Postcards featuring Akron Landmarks
    The front of the postcards, featuring photography by Shane Wynn, highlight various spots in Akron: Highland Square, Akron Civic Theatre, and Boardwalk Thrift. The backs feature fun facts about the landmarks and are set up like a true postcard. Wondering who I should send these to… Or maybe I’ll just stick them on my fridge with my dinosaurs.
Music and photography — all from Akron
  • CDs from Acid Cats and Beyonderers 
    I haven’t heard of either of these bands. Have you? I didn’t go on that car ride I mentioned in the video, but now that I have a disc reader for my computer, I’ll import the albums and give them a go.
  • Book — The Story of Archie the Talking Snowman by Joanna Wilson 
    I learned about Archie in one of my communications classes at UA. Having not grown up in Akron, that was the first time I heard about the clever idea. After a 10 year hibernation, the talking snowman returned to Chapel Hill Mall in 2014. Did you get to chat with Archie this year? I guess I’ll have to wait until next Christmas to visit him.
  • Akron Coffee Roasters — Asterisk Seasonal Blend 
    I saved the best for last! This summer, I stopped by the Highland Square farmers’ market and picked up a bag of whole bean coffee from Ethiopia. The next morning, I opened the bag and was greeted by the most beautiful smell I had ever encountered. The beans had been roasted within the past few days, making a marked difference from what I usually get on grocery store shelves. I was stoked to get a sample bag in my package (as you can tell in the video.) It’s delicious for curling up with a good book on a chilly winter day. Which is what I’m about to do right now…
“The Story of Archie the Snowman” with a cup of Akron Coffee Roasters coffee

*Not a sponsored post; only loving words for a new idea and a wonderful city with treasures to be found.

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