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The 14 Zaniest Subscription-Commerce Startups

From Paleo Diet Foods to Dive Bar Tees, Consumers Can Sign Up for Some Weird Mailers

By Published on . 2

The subscription-commerce industry has jumped the shark, as evidenced by the uproar caused yesterday by the arrival of HelloFlo, a new company that exists solely to mail Always and Tampax Pearl tampons to women around their period every month -- since women in 2013 are apparently so busy they can no longer keep track of their menstruation cycles.

HelloFlo
HelloFlo

As the founder Naama Bloom told TechCrunch: "There are no good reminders that are also tied in with the product. There have been so many times when I've been caught off guard and needed to run out to the drugstore at an inconvenient time."

It's a sad state of affairs really, that one of our group's thinks we women are so lazy that we can't hit the nearest Target or Walgreens -- even better yet, stock up and buy bulk on Amazon.com or Drugstore.com. What's maybe scarier, though, is that it's hardly the first service. Many others came before it, like Juniper and Trinket Women were already sending feminine products.

It's also hardly the most surprising theme among subscription-commerce startups to crop up in the past few years. Here's our list of the 14 zaniest.

1. PaleoPax: On the Paleo Diet? Well this monthly delivery intends to keep you on it with its steady supply of high-protein foods like Turkey Sticks and all-natural alternatives like Kelp noodles.

2. Jangneus Design: This one is posh -- and it's only available in Europe. Jangneus Design, which says it's dedicated to "Swedish kitchen culture," offers subscriptions of tea towels and dishcloths to your door once a month in a color scheme of your liking.

3. MeUndies: A replenishment service for underwear. There are many subscription-commerce services these days dedicated to drawers but this is the only one to promise its members one new pair of the "world's most comfortable" each month.

4. Not Another Bill: Random gifts is the theme here. While this one isn't corny, or verging on a gag gift like some of the others, it's definitely hipster-ish and trying way too hard -- as evidenced by its previous offerings, which have included a fancy slingshot, driftwood hand-carved boat or Austrian-made pocket sundial.

5. Turntable Kitchen's Pairings Box: Turntable Kitchen isn't hawking a product so much as it is encouraging subscribers to sign up for an experience. It's a curated food and music-discovery box that includes a vinyl single, mixtape and a collection of recipes to try that can all be used at a dinner party together. It's unique, yes, but isn't it also a bit sad if you need this much help in having a few friends over your place?

6. Sababu Undershirt Club: Aimed at sweaty guys, this one gets you two new undershirts delivered to your door every three months. The nice thing here is, the subscription is just $5.95 per month and the 100%-cotton shirts are made in Africa and the proceeds benefit Malians in need.

7. Candy Japan: Got a sweet tooth? Willing to eat any kind of candy? Then this one is up your alley. Candy Japan sends a surprise delivery of anything from Pokemon gummys to something called "Super Soda Gum" to help you figure out what those kooky Harajuku kids are consuming these days.

8. Dive Bar Shirt Club: Your mom and pop will be so proud. Join this club and you'll get a monthly delivery -- at $22 per pop -- of a genuine tee from a U.S. dive bar. Past ones have been from Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Iowa, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

9. MilkMade Ice Cream: Oof. This one feels like a global-warming disaster waiting to happen. Artisanal ice cream is available at a number of fine-dining establishments these days, yet MilkMade wants you to get flavors like Marzipan and Churro delivered to your door.

10. Lighter of the Month: Bored by that bright yellow Bic in your pocket? Well here's a solution for you. The Lighter of the Month club sends out stickers to help you jazz up your torches with funky designs.

Socked
Socked

11. Socked: Men's socks with a very specific remit. "You are able to request any color you wish as long as it is black," explains the website. Markets itself to "discerning gentlemen" who really know what they want.

12. Sir Richards: The condom company in a designer box is among the most well-known of this lot, and has marketed itself more than many of the others.

13. Blush Box: Started by Rockfish founder Kenny Tomlin -- one of the few from the ad world to dabble in this space -- Blush Box is one of the kinkier subscription-commerce offerings out there. Once a quarter, it delivers sex toys and scented lotions and gels to help couples in the bedroom.

14. Zabars OrderGroove: This one is less a subscription startup than a fulfillment service that's being marketed as a new service on the OrderGroove platform. But regardless, you can get some pretty tasty Jewish treats to your door each month from Manhattan-based grocery Zabars, including smoked fish, bagels and rugelach.

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