Archive | Hot Pockets RSS feed for this category

REVIEW: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Buffalo Style Chicken

Written by | May 22, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Hot Pockets

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Buffalo Style Chicken

There have been more than a few moments throughout my life when I thought I may be going crazy, and most of them revolve around one thing: Hot Pockets.

I’ve been eating the things since they were first introduced, and, while I enjoy them, I’ve never found a flavor I fell in love with other than the four cheese one. Ugh, Four Cheese. So greasy. So bad for my stomach. BUT SO TASTY!

I would try picking up different flavors and giving them a chance, but after awhile it started to seem like an insane game to be playing, as no pocket could ever equal Four Cheese.

Four Cheese may have to worry though because a new competitor, Limited Edition Buffalo Style Chicken, has stepped into the ring to contend for the Trevor’s Favorite Hot Pocket Championship title belt. Or plaque. Or trophy. It’s a metaphorical award so you can picture it whatever way you want, Okay? Geez.

With my hometown being an hour away from Buffalo, NY, I’ve had every buffalo wing that’s worth eating, so it should come as no surprise I’m kind of a buffalo snob.

When I first glanced the buffalo chicken pockets, I gave a “pff,” as in, “yeah, like THEY know how to do buffalo sauce.” I usually don’t judge a book by its cover but instead the preface. In this case though, I was cover judging pretty hard. I decided to give them a chance. At the least it would provide me with a good laugh.

As is normally the case with a Hot Pocket, I got pretty enraged after it came out of the microwave. The crust broke at the side and a good-sized glob of sauce spilled out onto the plate. I swear, every goddamn time!

A pocket is supposed to hold something, yet a Hot Pocket never can seem to hold onto its contents. If my pants pockets were as reliable as a Hot Pocket, I would probably be down a good twenty dollars in change this year alone.

They should be called “Hot But Not Always Reliable Pockets, or “Hot Pocket With Holes in it.”

Damn, I should’ve considered a career in marketing. Those are genius names! Moving on.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Buffalo Style Chicken Top

The first thing I noticed before really paying attention to the inside of the pocket was how good the crust was. I don’t know if this has a special crust since it is limited edition but they really outdid themselves on this one. It’s very buttery and flakey, almost approaching biscuit levels in those respective categories.

At first, the sauce did not seem all that spicy to me. I remained snobbish for a few bites, listening to Chopin, reading the current edition of The New Yorker and sticking my pinky out whilst holding the Hot Pocket.

Once I reached the middle though, I silenced Chopin, closed the magazine, reunited my pinky with his its finger brethren, took a breath and said, “whoa.”

The buffalo sauce seemed more spicy/sweet than spicy at first but once you ingest enough of the sauce it really hits you. The best part is it tastes like real buffalo sauce, not some sad attempt at buffalo sauce, which I was fully expecting.

And I’m not kidding when I say it’s spicy. My forehead started getting hot towards the end of the pocket. It didn’t sweat but I think if I ate a second one it may have.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Buffalo Style Chicken Innards 2

The box puts emphasis on the fact that the pocket contains white meat chicken, and I will say the chicken was actually very tender. Not once did I encounter a piece of grizzle that I’ve found in other Hot Pockets with chicken in them.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Buffalo Style Chicken Innards

The one big complaint I have, other than post-microwave pocket breach, is that the pocket seemed to be under-stuffed. When I eat one of my precious four cheese pockets, it is PACKED with filling. There was easily room for a little more. Maybe some type of cheese, like a blue or provolone?

Well, I guess finding another Hot Pocket I can enjoy along with Four Cheese proves my sanity! I have to go stick it to my Yu Darvish bobblehead. He always calls me crazy and hurls insults at me like, “Hey, Trevor. Can you hear me? Of course you can! Your big ears could pick up radio signals!”

Damn talking bobblehead. I’ll show him. I’m not crazy. Crazy cool, maybe!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 sandwich – 280 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 730 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar and 10 grams of protein.)

Item: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Buffalo Style Chicken
Purchased Price: $1.87
Size: 2 sandwiches
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Top-tier crust. Buffalo sauce was very tasty with a nice spicy kick. Yu Darvish bobblehead. Being totally sane.
Cons: Could’ve had more filling. Post-microwave pocket breach. Mean big ear jokes.

Permalink | 4 Comments

REVIEW: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt

Written by | April 21, 2014

Topics: 2 Rating, Frozen Food, Hot Pockets

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt

Some memories are best left in their own time. Case in point: Third wave ska, Disney Afternoon cartoons, JNCO pants. Let them be. Revisiting these things is a risk, a danger to the fond nostalgia they might evoke at this point in time. This is because they are objectively poor (and memories are unreliable), composed of a multitude of components and emotions, including the way we picture our younger selves—hopeful, untainted, resilient. Memories are a trick. We’re all on the same page here, right? Memories are a trick. Got it? Good.

Cue the time machine. Sometimes it’s a phone booth, sometimes it’s a DeLorean, and sometimes it’s a British phone booth. In this case it’s a supermarket freezer, packed full of frozen treats, yearning to be consumed. The colorful packaging displaying giant carb pills chock full o’ meat ‘n dairy tantalize and beckon, ready to send you back ten, fifteen, twenty years. Whatever you like, master. Look, it’s even a fixed run! Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt. What a beaut.

Remember Hot Pockets?

Flaky crust injected with beef or pork — an inside-out pizza, a sandwich with no edges. An afternoon treat before soccer practice, or during a Mortal Kombat II jam sesh. Enjoyed with a cold Fruitopia. Mom, stop trying to make phone calls, I’m on AOL! Aw, man I got Hot Pocket all over my hip-hop Looney Toons t-shirt. I know, I know. We just went over this. Memories are lies, yeah yeah. … Eff it, we’re going back! It’s a time machine, bro. You can’t not go. It’s a time machine. Don’t be lame. Let’s do it. Start it up!

The Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt sucks. The box promises Angus beef, portabella mushrooms, provolone and mozzarella and “soft-baked bread.” The bread is soft, yes, sort of like a ciabatta or something. It’s also super soggy after the requisite minute and fifty seconds in the microwave. Maybe there’s a conventional oven plan we can put this on? The box has no instructions for that. All the best, we’ve seen microwavable burritos. We don’t have 40 minutes to sit around waiting for a Hot Pocket to thaw.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt Innards

There are a few hits of “premium meat” flavor and mushroom taste, which is somehow immediately fleeting, taken over by steaming hot filling that tastes like nothing. The photo on the box is stuffed with beef and cheese, and the bisected reality is one of a space worm from Dune that feeds on bad choices and nostalgia. The beef on the box is sliced and layered. The beef in the actual pocket is chopped into bits, resembling the leftover bits from a deli slicer. Even the box has memories that lie.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt Closeup

The worst part is that it’s not substantial at all. It barely registers as a snack. If you’re not gonna make it good to eat at least food coma us so we can dream about a Hot Pocket that is satisfying on some level. It was a bad omen when taking it out of the microwave, the Hot Pocket looked like a pet gerbil that had made a doodie mess out of its backside all over the plate. It looked shameful, like it had made a mistake. It’s not your fault, though. The mistake was all ours.

As the time travel effects wear off and we slingshot back to the present, we see a whirlwind of our past: First girlfriend, favorite teacher, Chuck Berry’s cousin Marvin Berry, wife of multiple time travelers Rachel McAdams. Reflecting on our trip, Prophet Gaffigan was right. We should have never gone back. Now the entire past is up for scrutiny. Maybe everything in the past sucks, except for Batman the Animated Series, Starter jackets, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

The question is: Did the Hot Pocket get worse, or was it never good in the first place? The answer doesn’t matter. In 2014, it’s garbage. We’re all about e-cigs, Teslas, and Google Glass now. Perhaps it was a fine product for children. But we’re adults. We’ve had sushi. We’ve eaten Ethiopian food. This is not for us anymore. Forget it, Jake. It’s Hot Pockets.

(Nutrition Facts – 270 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.)

Item: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 2 sandwiches/box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Very cheap at a buck a piece. Maybe one bite of okay flavor.
Cons: Not substantial. Contents eventually taste like nothing, like a waste of product. Should be at least filling if not tasty, but is neither.

Permalink | 2 Comments

REVIEW: Limited Edition Cuban Style Hot Pockets

Written by | May 23, 2013

Topics: 8 Rating, Frozen Food, Hot Pockets

Limited Edition Cuban Style Hot Pockets

Being from the Midwest, I didn’t know anything about Cuban sandwiches until I moved to California. You read that correctly. It took a move 1,600 miles in the wrong direction for me to finally experience the warm, toasty delights of the Mixto — roasted pork, sliced ham, swiss cheese, pickles and yellow mustard on fresh Cuban bread pressed with a plancha (iron) and cut diagonally across the center. ¡Delicioso! So far be it from me to shy away from sampling the newest addition to the Hot Pockets line-up, the Limited Edition Cuban Style Hot Pocket.

Much like the East Coast/West Coast hip hop feud of yore, there’s a rivalry between Tampa and Miami regarding ownership of the Cuban sandwich. Tampa appears to be the original home of the Mixto (a.k.a the Cubano), which was introduced there in the 1890s by hungry Cuban cigar factory workers in the Ybor City neighborhood. They did, however, add salami to the sandwich — a highly controversial move, especially considering how Miami’s sandwich artists have adhered to the traditional recipe. I suppose this would be the “Who Shot Ya?” event of the sandwich war because things really popped off after that.

Suffice it to say, the salami-free Limited Edition Cuban Style Hot Pockets seem to welcome me to the city where the heat is on, all night on the beach ‘til the break of dawn. Bienvenido a Miami

These Hot Pockets are demanding that I get Pitbull on the phone and tell him to meet us in the V.I.P. at LIV for some bottle service after the Heat game and then afterwards, crank up the salsa as we speed to the Ritz-Carlton South Beach in our yellow Lambo for the after party.

Limited Edition Cuban Style Hot Pockets Whole

But before I book that plane ticket, let’s pause for a moment and talk about Cuban bread. It’s delicious and airy with that necessary touch of fat that makes Cuban bread Cuban and almost all other bread crap. I can’t be sure that the Hot Pockets people have injected lard into their crust, but the Cuban Style Hot Pocket is soft and delicious. True, the crust isn’t crispy since these Hot Pockets are heated in the microwave and don’t come with a crisping sleeve, but it isn’t soggy either. It manages to maintain a perfectly bread-like exterior with the right amount of give and softness without becoming a mushy mess.

Limited Edition Cuban Style Hot Pockets Innards

When it comes to the innards of the Limited Edition Cuban Style Hot Pockets, they closely approximate the makeup of authentic Cuban sandwiches. They are full of pickle flavor, but I’m at a loss trying to explain where the intense pickle-y taste actually comes from. How did they manage to get so much flavor out of these itsy bitsy chunks of pickle? The meat portion of this Hot Pocket consists of diced ham and sliced pork — two delicious meats that come from the same magically delicious animal. There is a hint of mustard in the Hot Pocket, but it definitely takes a backseat to the pickle flavor.

Limited Edition Cuban Style Hot Pockets Sliced

The Limited Edition Cuban Style Hot Pocket is a winner with a pleasantly soft crust, savory pork bits, gooey Swiss cheese, tangy pickles, and no salami. Though it lacks the crispy, toasted texture one can only get from using a sandwich press instead of a microwave, I am positive that anyone looking for some Cubano goodness won’t be disappointed. Just don’t tell Tampa.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 sandwich – 260 calories, 90 fat calories, 10 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 680 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein, 15% Calcium, 10%Iron, 0% Vitamin C, 2% Vitamin A.)

Item: Limited Edition Cuban Style Hot Pockets
Purchased Price: $2.00 (on sale)
Size: 2 sandwiches
Purchased at: Ralphs
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Pickles, pork & cheese. Thick, soft bread. Lard injections. Pitbull.
Cons: Teensy mystery pickles. Sandwich feuds. Definitely not plancha crispy. Only around for a short time.

Permalink | 7 Comments

REVIEW: Limited Edition Spicy Beef Nacho Hot Pockets

Written by | May 6, 2013

Topics: 6 Rating, Frozen Food, Hot Pockets

Limited Edition Spicy Beef Nacho Hot Pockets

As someone whose stomach has had the pleasure and pain of experiencing many different varieties of Hot Pockets, the new Limited Edition Spicy Beef Nacho Hot Pockets tasted like a meat and cheese cocoon that the fine folks over at Nestle had released before.

After spending more time than anyone should on the Hot Pockets website, looking through the varieties like they were perps in a mugshot book, I realized this limited edition Hot Pocket didn’t taste like a previous regular Hot Pocket, it kind of tasted like these Fiesta Nacho Hot Pockets Snackers.

It’s not surprising since the bite-sized Snackers with its taco seasoned beef, Mexican-style cheese sauce, and jalapeños in a tortilla style crust looks on paper very similar to the spicy beef, reduced fat mozzarella, jalapeño peppers, onions, cheddar sauce, and seasoned crust that make up this limited edition Hot Pocket. It would’ve been cool if the meat and cheese cocoon also had tortilla chips inside of it, but I don’t know if frozen food technology has advanced to the point where it can keep chips crunchy in a Hot Pocket.

Limited Edition Spicy Beef Nacho Hot Pockets Crust

As the pocket got hot in my microwave, it made my kitchen smell like jalapeños, which got me thinking that these Hot Pockets were going to be spicy. They were, but not five-alarm spicy. It was more like a two-alarm spicy that instantly smacked my tongue around like I was making out with a first time French kisser. For me, water was unnecessary.

So instead of having the word “spicy” on fire on the front of the box, perhaps the letter I should’ve been a lit match, because it definitely wasn’t word-on-fire spicy. And while I’m talking graphic design, the word “spicy” is on fire, the word “beef” looks like it was branded, but nothing was done with the word “nacho” beyond some gradients. Come on, Hot Pockets graphic designer! Couldn’t you have made it look like cheese was dripping from it?

Limited Edition Spicy Beef Nacho Hot Pockets Innards

Speaking of cheese, why does this nacho-flavored Hot Pocket highlight mozzarella? The cheese isn’t what I would consider nacho-ey. But after spending more time than anyone should reading the ingredient label on a Hot Pockets box, I did also learn it has some cheddar, Monterey jack, parmesan, and swiss cheeses. Maybe having more cheddar would’ve helped the cheeses stand out because they get overwhelmed by the jalapeños and the almost too salty ground beef.

Overall, Limited Edition Spicy Beef Nacho Hot Pocket’s flavor was good, thanks to the jalapeños, but not amazing. The only thing that was completely amazing about Limited Edition Spicy Beef Nacho Hot Pocket was how its contents didn’t ooze out from the slightly crunchy crust while being microwaved, which, again, as someone whose stomach has had the pleasure and pain of experiencing many different varieties of Hot Pockets, I can say is a very rare occurrence.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pocket – 260 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 640 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein, 8% vitamin A, 15% calcium, and 15% iron.)

*made with partially hydrogenated oils

Item: Limited Edition Spicy Beef Nacho Hot Pockets
Purchased Price: $2.50 (on sale)
Size: 2 sandwiches
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Nice jalapeño flavor. Innards didn’t ooze out while being microwaved. Slightly crunchy crust. Made my kitchen smell like jalapeños.
Cons: Beef was almost too salty. Not really a creative flavor. Cheese gets lost among the jalapeño and beef. Mozzarella being highlighted in a nacho Hot Pocket. No tortilla chips inside the Hot Pocket. Playing armchair graphic designer.

Permalink | 2 Comments

REVIEW: Hot Pockets Snackers Baked Mac & Cheese Bites

Written by | July 3, 2012

Topics: 7 Rating, Frozen Food, Hot Pockets

Hot Pockets Snackers Baked Mac & Cheese Bites

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.)

Hot Pockets Snackers Baked Mac & Cheese Bites Closeup

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

Permalink | 6 Comments