These new spicy Hot Pockets are way more complicated than you were expecting. Not in taste though. That’s straightforward. What’s complicated is everything else. Allow me to explain.
First, like a music festival or an early 2000s Southern rap album, these Hot Pockets are presented by someone other than Nestle alone. These are all branded as “First We Feast presents: Hot Ones,” then the name of the type of Hot Pocket. And then, if that wasn’t enough, each one is “made with” some sort of non-Hot Pocket sauce. The Hot Habanero Pepperoni & Sausage is made with “Los Calientes Rojo,” the Smoky Green Chili Cheesesteak is made with “Los Calientes Verde,” and the Spicy Garlic Chicken & Bacon is made with “The Classic Garlic Fresno.”
I know, I’m sorry. It’s a lot.
In case you’re like me and wildly disconnected from most modern media, allow me to explain. (By copy/pasting from Google.) “First We Feast is an online food-culture magazine and YouTube channel. The site co-produces the YouTube series Hot Ones with Complex Media, its parent company.”
Okay, so in retrospect, I’ve heard of this. Hot Ones is the thing where celebrities eat really hot wings and, I don’t know… it’s funny? It’s touching? Whatever it is, it’s a lucrative enterprise. Because here we are, with branded Hot Pockets.
The Hot Habanero Pepperoni & Sausage
This thing OOZED sauce — cloyingly sweet sauce. I think my entire Hot Pocket had two small shards of pepperoni and three, maybe four sausage chunks. The pepperoni and sausage are the same meats used in all other Hot Pockets, so if you’ve had any of those, you know the drill. Salty, chewy, nothing to write home about. But really, this sauce. Oof. And how was the hotness? I mean, that’s really the whole point, right? It was… noticeable but not overly aggressive. The box suggested that the heat level was a 5 out of 10 — the same as the Smoky Green Chili Cheesesteak — and I don’t feel like the heat matched at ALL. It was much milder. So, if you had this one and found it tolerable from a heat perspective, please don’t assume the cheesesteak one will be the same. It’s not.
Smoky Green Chili Cheesesteak
This one BURNED. The heat kicked in fast and was prevalent throughout. What I found interesting, though, was how quickly the heat subsided. It didn’t last more than 20 or 30 seconds after each bite. The steak was the same nib-like meat they use in the delightful Jalapeño Steak & Cheese variety, which I sadly cannot find anywhere around here anymore. In fact, this was reminiscent of that, though it’s missing the cheese sauce, which is a shame. And there didn’t seem to be as much steak. And this had a green chili that mostly just blended in. So, okay, I guess it’s not much like the Jalapeño Steak & Cheese at all. Nor is it good.
Spicy Garlic Chicken & Bacon
At least this one tried something different? Although I didn’t really get much heat from this — it was a 2 out of 10 on their arbitrary Hot Ones scale — it had the most nuance, mostly due to a mild smoky component, though I don’t know if this came from the chicken, the bacon, or the garlic sauce. (For what it’s worth, there were no discernible pieces of bacon, and the chicken’s prevalence was about as impressive as the sausage and pepperoni inclusion on that version.) This was the winner of the bunch — not that that’s saying much.
Purchased Price: $2.98 each
Purchased at: Hy-Vee
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Pepperoni and Sausage), 4 out of 10 (Green Chili Cheesesteak), 5 out of 10 (Garlic Chicken and Bacon)
Nutrition Facts: Pepperoni & Sausage – 290 calories, 13 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 790 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein. Green Chili Cheesesteak – 280 calories, 11 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 700 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of protein. Garlic Chicken & Bacon – 280 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 760 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein.