They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results; but they also say if at first you don’t succeed, you should try, try again. So, are “they” advocating madness? These are the kind of thoughts that run through my head as I review my second mac & cheese-based product in two reviews. And a pretty good indicator of why I majored in English rather than Philosophy.
Hopefully you’re all familiar with Hot Pockets, or the slightly lower-calorie alternative Lean Pockets, my preferred indulgence because I like to pretend I could still swim a mile in less than 20 minutes (nope) and we can’t all eat like Michael Phelps.
You may also be aware of HP’s “Snackers” brand, an attempt to offer a smaller alternative to their usual burrito-sized offerings. The bag contains 12 pieces (3 servings) of pastry crust stuffed with macaroni & cheese and promises to microwave in just over a minute, which is big because regular Hot Pockets take 2 full minutes and who has that kind of time these days? Not me, that’s an extra review and a half I could have written. These things require a craftsman’s touch!
(By the way, I know 4 pieces may not sound like much as a serving size, but given how thick each triangle is, trust me that it isn’t insignificant. I guess technically you could eat a full package as a meal, but that would be a lot. Count on either splitting them with a friend or just not having a side dish if you decide to down the whole bag at once.)
Diving in, the crust is fairly light and flaky. This reaffirms the package’s boast that they’re baked, not fried. If you’ve ever had a Hot Pocket before, you know what to expect, although these taste just a bit lighter. And as I alluded to regarding the thickness, you’re not getting hosed as far as how much mac & cheese is stuffed into each one. I certainly didn’t feel short-changed, and microwaving the triangles caused most of them to either spill out some cheese onto the plate or at least partially crack open, reinforcing the point.
That said, they’re not messy — I didn’t have any problems with cheese spilling out unexpectedly or big pieces flaking off, so feel free to eat these one-handed on the couch without a napkin like the savage you are. No one is judging.
The macaroni itself is a good consistency, soft but with just enough firmness to be appealing. It actually looks pretty similar to Kraft Mac & Cheese, but the cheese is a bit different, slightly creamier than Kraft’s flavor without being especially sharp.
Also, it’s a little hard to describe, but the cheese almost feels like a different component than the macaroni; there’s a lot of it, and it tends to ooze around the cracks and crevices formed by the pasta and spill out in large quantities. I’m not complaining because it tastes the same either way, but rather than truly coating the macaroni, the cheese feels more like it’s sharing space with it. They don’t exactly meld, but it’s plentiful and tasty, so I can’t complain too much.
Probably the only other criticism I would level against the Macaroni & Cheese Bites is that they lack that certain edge, the extra component that really distinguishes good products from great products.
Don’t interpret that as a criticism — I like the Bites, and I wouldn’t at all mind getting them again. But an extra flavor of cheese inside, maybe something with more bite like colby jack, would’ve really put it over the top. But as it is, this is a good, solid snacking choice that’s quick and easy to make and will fill you up. You could do a lot worse.
(Nutrition Facts — 4 pieces — 220 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of total fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 460 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugars, and 6 grams of protein)
Item: Hot Pockets Snackers Baked Mac & Cheese Bites
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 10 oz. / approx. 12 pieces
Purchased at: Acme
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Bypassing one useless degree for a slightly-less-useless one. Light, fairly soft crust. 4 pieces makes a good snack. Only takes a minute and change to make. Triangles are stuffed full of mac & (especially) cheese. Swimming references, because when people only notice your sport once every four years, you’ve gotta jump on that opportunity.
Cons: We have yet to break the 1-minute microwave mark. Pasta and cheese feel more like amiable co-inhabitants than a happy couple. Not being able to eat like Michael Phelps. Could use a little more kick. Not lacking in fat and sodium