10423944_331805116967759_6551477928449366102_nA few weeks after Christmas this year, I received an unexpected envelope. Inside was another, much older envelope and in that was a letter imploring me to tell no one of my receipt of that missive and to not discuss it’s contents. I immediately started carefully asking around to see who had sent it but no one had a clue. After more of this odd correspondence, including news clippings, postcards, other oddities (and eventually a wooden crate!), I was given the identity of my strange pen pal: The Mysterious Package Company.

Normally I would outline what I received including pictures, but allow me to share a snippet of a conversation I had with the curator of the MPC:

So then, just how secretive is this organization? Is it so secretive that you would object to a review on a website? Or are my suspicions correct that it’s not so secretive as all that?

The Curator:
My dearest Matthew,
You have indeed hit us squarely in the paradox: a secretive organization, yes, but surely (let us not be coy) a business as well!  We have no compunction about being reviewed, but we would ask only that you give away no specifics regarding the experiences we offer our members.  It is an ongoing effort on our part to minimize the disappointment a recipient may feel by Googling the names and places and even return address and company names we use in our mailings.  It is an entirely human reaction to receiving unbidden mail, and we are doing what we can to reduce our footprint on the net, but even a well-intentioned posting on social media can cause much spoilage.  I hope this makes sense and am grateful that you would think to ask first, but of course, should you have any further questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me forthwith.
Your servant,
The Curator
at The Mysterious Package Company

Such a polite fellow for someone that many suspect of being a bloodsucking horror. His request of course makes perfect sense. I myself did everything from Googling addresses, names, and dates to trying to decode their 4 state barcode, so I will attempt to discuss my experience in a general sense without delving into too much detail. You can get a feel for the specifics on their website (click the “closer look” link on their main site. I’d give a direct link but It’s built strangely). Of course there are also plenty of people on the web who are unaware of or unwilling to comply with the company’s request for web silence so a quick Google search will also turn up plenty of examples including at least one four part YouTube series of a complete unboxing.

Dealing with The Mysterious Package Company begins by applying for membership on their site. Though this is given a mysterious air and asks for such odd things as the applicants blood type (which is why rumor in the sitting room is that the curator may be a vampire) I suspect that in reality it’s a way to keep descriptions of the packages they offer behind a wall and prevent spoilers.

From there you can browse a selection of “Experiences”, subscribe to their newspaper, order smaller curiosities, or join others in “the sitting room”, their forums (currently undergoing renovation).

Their products are on the expensive side. The one my wife ordered for me was $199. (btw: She denied all knowledge until the final mailing confirmed it was her.) Here’s the tricky part: Even though most of what I received was very impressive quality, the product you receive for your money isn’t really worth the purchase price on it’s own. Yes, I got a lot of cool knick-knacks and even an impressive final piece, but I wouldn’t have straight up chosen to pay $200 for the collection. Instead, it’s the experience that may be worth the cost. Check out this promotional video for an example. If you or the person you gift one of these to is the kind to get caught up and spend a lot of time and effort poring over the strange letters, hunting down the source, and searching for clues, then it certainly can be worth the purchase price. It can especially be a fun group activity for friends or family. If you’re not sure of the value, an issue of the newspaper (which comes with artifacts) or some back issues (which are less expensive but do not) is a cheaper exploratory option.

While the concept behind this product is amazing, the value of the experience is an individual phenomenon so you’re the best judge of the wisdom of purchasing one.