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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.

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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.

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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

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REVIEW: Hot Pockets Limited Edition BBQ Recipe Bacon Burger

Written by | June 7, 2012

Topics: 6 Rating, Frozen Food, Hot Pockets

Hot Pockets Limited Edition BBQ Recipe Bacon Burger

At times, I thought the Hot Pockets Limited Edition BBQ Recipe Bacon Burger tasted like a Burger King Rodeo Cheeseburger or BK’s Western BBQ Topper.

If you’re not familiar with those two Burger King sandwiches, because you’re MCD4LYFE or because you eat much healthier than I do, they’re both constructed using a flame-broiled beef patty, cheese, onion rings, and a barbecue sauce served on a bun.

This isn’t the first time Hot Pockets’ mad food scientists were able to make a Hot Pocket taste like a fast food cheeseburger. They originally did it with their Hot Pockets SideShots Mini Cheeseburgers, which I thought tasted like a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger.

Dang, those mad flavor scientists have some mad burger flavor reproducing skills.

Wait a minute. Why can’t those mad flavor scientists make a pepperoni Hot Pocket taste like a pepperoni pizza?

Anyhoo, the box doesn’t specifically say it, but these are Hot Pockets SideShots, which means instead of a crispy outer crust, they have a soft bun-like crust. According to the ingredients list, stuffed within that crust are: cooked beef pattie crumble, pasteurized process cheddar cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon, onions, seasoning, and tomato paste.

What makes these mini microwaveable marvels taste like a couple of Burger King burgers is the “BBQ sauce.” Oh, what’s with the quotations marks? Well, it’s not really a BBQ sauce, since a barbecue sauce isn’t listed in the ingredients. It’s more like a deconstructed barbecue sauce that tastes like the tangy and sweet stuff Burger King uses.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition BBQ Recipe Bacon Burger Closeup

Each bun isn’t bursting with beef pattie crumble and bacon, like in the picture on the front of the packaging, instead there’s a smidgen of beef and an almost equal smidgen of bacon. If you’re expecting crisp bacon in these pockets of hotness, your expectations are way too high. They are as limp as a cardboard box in a rainstorm. The bacon’s smokiness and the added onions also helped these Hot Pockets taste like I’m eating a Burger King Rodeo Cheeseburger. The bun was kind of a letdown because most of the time it was dry and a bit tough, which wasn’t what I experienced with the mostly soft and a little chewy buns of the Hot Pockets SideShots Mini Cheeseburgers.

The Hot Pockets Limited Edition BBQ Recipe Bacon Burgers would make a flavorful snack or a tasty part of a complete lunch or dinner. While it still kind of blows my mind they taste like my beloved Burger King Rodeo Cheeseburger, I found that flavor to be inconsistent as I chowed my way through the two servings.

I hope those Hot Pockets’ mad flavor scientists attempt to emulate the Big Mac’s flavor for next year’s limited edition Hot Pockets flavor and calls it Hot Pockets Limited Edition Special Sauce Burger or something as unimaginative as the name Hot Pockets Limited Edition BBQ Recipe Bacon Burger.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 buns – 290 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 620 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein, and a bunch of vitamins and minerals.)

*made with partially hydrogenated oil

Other Hot Pockets Limited Edition BBQ Recipe Bacon Burger reviews:
Snackor

Item: Hot Pockets Limited Edition BBQ Recipe Bacon Burger
Price: $2.49 (on sale)
Size: 4 buns
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: They taste like Burger King’s Rodeo Cheeseburger. Tangy and sweet deconstructed barbecue sauce. A nice snack. Contains seven vitamins and minerals.
Cons: Buns were dry and tough at times. Inconsistent flavor. Made with partially hydrogenated oil. Spelling patty with an “ie.” Unimaginative name.

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REVIEW: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Chili Sauce Cheese Dog

Written by | May 29, 2012

Topics: 5 Rating, Hot Pockets

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Chili Sauce Cheese Dog

Here I go again, reviewing another Hot Pocket. What keeps me coming back to the Hot Pockets product line when I know every pocket will be reminiscent of the last? Do I have a problem? Will my constant attraction to all pockets Hot, Lean, and Pretzeld ultimately be my undoing?

The new Limited Edition Chili Sauce Cheese Dog Hot Pocket may not be the best Hot Pocket Ive ever tasted, but it certainly provides no cure for my stuffed sandwich addiction. In other words, Im hooked on Hot Pockets. Can we make that a slogan and sell it to the Hot Pockets people? I can use the money to pay for treatment.

Psssst €¦ Treatment includes lots and lots of burning the roof of ones mouth.

Lets start with the filling because as we all know, Hot Pockets are like my unattractive friend I want you to ask out: Its whats inside that counts. The name itself spells everything out for you. The Chili Sauce Cheese Dog Hot Pocket contains chili sauce made with beef and chicken pattie crumbles, which is suitably savory.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Chili Sauce Cheese Dog Innards

It also contains cheese just gooey and flavorful enough to make a good impression. But that dog part? The box claims that the chili sauce contains pork franks. The last time I ate pork frank pieces this tiny was when I was experiencing finger foods for the first time in my high chair. The Chili Sauce Cheese Dog Hot Pocket is filled with more lies than pork franks.

And if youre expecting an awesome exterior to make up for the disappointing interior, youre out of luck. The Limited Edition Chili Sauce Cheese Dog Hot Pocket has an unseasoned, unspectacular crust. In fact, its a lot like a plain ol hot dog bun. (Another thought… just what should I call this outer part of the sandwich if they keep changing the texture? The crust? The bun? WHAT DO I CALL THE POCKET PART OF A HOT POCKET??? Since Chili Sauce Cheese Dog Hot Pockets arent particularly crusty, Im going with “buns.” The quotation marks are in full effect.)

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Chili Sauce Cheese Dog Bun

I tried to remember the last time I ate an unseasoned and unadorned “bun,” and I realized that these are the same “buns” they use for the Sideshots. I guess the approach with the Sideshots was to mimic a hamburger bun, and they go for the same effect here in a hot dog bun way €¦ but when I consider the filling of the Chili Sauce Cheese Dog Hot Pocket (or lack thereof), I wish they had tried something different.

In fact, they should probably have gone back to the drawing board entirely with this sandwich, starting with the ridiculous name: “Hot Pockets Limited Edition Chili Sauce Cheese Dog.” Its like theyre saying Cheese Dog when they really mean Chili Dog, but they forgot to include the dog. Have the creators of this Hot Pocket never had a chili dog before in their lives? Why not just call it “Hot Pockets Limited Edition Chili Cheese?” Eliminate the weird “Sauce” part and any reference to HOT DOGS altogether. With the scanty amount of pork franks in this Hot Pocket, it wouldve been better to let us make the pleasant discovery of pork frank pieces in our chili-infused sandwich, and then wed be happy instead of incensed.

Okay, I just went on a long rant about a microwaveable sandwich. Maybe I do have a problem.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 sandwich – 280 calories, fat calories, 13 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 620 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 9 grams of protein, 15% Calcium, 10% Iron, 0% Vitamin C, 6% Vitamin A.)

Other Hot Pockets Limited Edition Chili Sauce Cheese Dog reviews:
The Nerd Empire

Item:  Hot Pockets Limited Edition Chili Sauce Cheese Dog
Price: $2.49 (on sale)
Size:  2 sandwich
Purchased at: Ralphs
Rating:  5 out of 10
Pros:  Suitably savory chili with beef and chicken pattie crumbles. Hooked on Hot Pockets. Gooey cheese. Will not negatively affect my Hot Pockets addiction.
Cons: Filled with more lies than pork franks. Burning the roof of your mouth. Unseasoned bun. Quotation marks.

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