REVIEW: Hot Pockets Snackers (Loaded Potato Skin Bites, Grilled Italian Style Bites, Fiesta Nacho Bites & Toasted Five Cheese Ravioli)

Hot Pockets Snackers

Baked Not Fried*

Those three words are on the front of every package of the new Hot Pockets Snackers. But what’s that snowflake-shaped thingie that’s hanging on the end of those three words like a piece of poop hanging from a dog’s fur around its poop chute? That, my friend, is an asterisk and it’s the shifty side of the eight key on your keyboard.

If you’re a person who doesn’t like to read, an asterisk always leads to more reading, which begins with another asterisk that hangs at the front of a sentence or phrase like a piece of snot hanging from one’s nose. Whenever there’s an asterisk on food packaging it can lead to three things:

1) An obligatory line found in every nutrition facts label: “Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

2) Something scary that food companies, sometimes by law, have to let you know about, like “This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration”, “Contains MSG naturally occurring in foods”, “Ingredients not in regular mozzarella cheese” or “If you’re a male who’s 35 or older, hide this box of Lucky Charms when women come over*.”

3) Something the food company didn’t really need to tell us, like what the asterisk after Baked Not Fried leads to — NOT A LOW FAT FOOD

Duh.

I don’t know of anyone who thinks Hot Pockets is a low-fat food, although I do know of people who think Lean Pockets will make them skinny. Hot Pockets Snackers are definitely not a low-fat food, but they aren’t a high-fat food either, like other Hot Pockets. They’re like fancier and slightly bigger pizza bites, or Hot Pockets for babies**.

They come in four varieties:

Hot Pockets Snackers Innards

Toasted Five Cheese Ravioli – mozzarella, ricotta, romano, parmesan and asiago cheese in a toasted ravioli. I wish I could say my tongue was talented enough to distinguish every cheese in the Hot Pockets Snackers, but my tongue is only good for one thing, ladies. I could only detect the mozzarella and parmesan, but I wonder how much of each cheese they stuffed into each one because there wasn’t much cheese filling. It’s definitely my least favorite of the four flavors. Although while being microwaved, it made my place smell like parmesan.

Fiesta Nacho Bites – taco seasoned beef, mexican style cheese sauce, and jalapenos in a tortilla style crust. Despite reading that there were jalapenos in it, I didn’t think there would be any heat, just the flavor of the peppers. However, there is a mild level of heat, maybe a 3 or 4 on a scale of 10. These triangular-shaped Snackers have a good flavor to them thanks to the jalapenos. It tasted like either something from Taco Bell or Mexican Hamburger Helper was stuffed into it***.

Grilled Italian Style Bites – Italian style deli meats and mozzarella cheese inside a panini crust. I enjoyed these as much as the Fiesta Nacho Bites. The prosciutto cotto, salami, and capicola provided wonderful flavor with a little spice. It had a decent amount of filling and the panini crust came out soft. Probably the fanciest of the four, but then again isn’t everything Italian considered fancy.

Loaded Potato Skin Bites – bacon, cheddar cheese, potatoes and green onion inside a golden potato crust. My second least favorite. While it did taste like potato skins, it didn’t have a strong flavor, even though there was as much filling as some of the others. The golden potato crust easily beats Pringles as the most embarrassing way for potatoes to end up. Despite being made of potatoes, the crust has very little potato flavor and was a bit too chewy. Thank goodness for the additional potatoes stuffed into it to give it a recognizable amount of potato flavor.

A serving of four takes about one minute and fifteen seconds to warm up, and there is no crisping sleeve. However, the instructions, which comes in English and Spanish, says completing the cooking process also involves letting it sit in the microwave for two minutes. So that one minute claim on the front of the package is misleading. Also, Hot Pockets really needs to work on preventing the filling in their products from oozing out while microwaving. And why do I have to use a damn paper plate to heat Hot Pockets? I don’t go on picnics, nor am I a hoarder who needs to use paper plates because my sink, which is blocked by a mountain of stuff that is valuable to me and no one else, is full of dishes that haven’t been washed in months.

Overall, my opinion is split between the different flavors of Hot Pockets Snackers. The Fiesta Nacho Bites and Grilled Italian Style Bites are the tastiest and have crusts that turn out decent from the microwave, while the Toasted Five Cheese Ravioli and Loaded Potato Skin Bites don’t have strong flavors and have tough crusts after being microwaved. However, the Hot Pockets Snackers does make it possible to create a Hot Pockets Diet****, which is like the Special K Diet, except instead of a bowl of Special K for breakfast and lunch, and a Special K snack in between meals, the Hot Pockets Diet would consist of a Hot Pocket for breakfast and lunch, and these Hot Pockets Snackers to help curb hunger in between meals.

*Not on boxes of Lucky Charms.

**If you feed your baby Hot Pockets, you are a horrible parent.

***Might be a good or bad thing, depends on how you feel about Taco Bell or Hamburger Helper.

****Don’t attempt to make the Hot Pockets Diet a reality.

(Nutrition Facts – 4 pieces – Potato Skin Bites – 230 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 610 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of protein, 6% vitamin A, 20% calcium, and 6% iron. Italian Style Bites – 210 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 500 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 8 grams of protein, 10% calcium, and 10% iron. Five Cheese Ravioli – 220 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 540 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of protein, 2% vitamin A, 20% calcium, and 10% iron. Fiesta Nacho Bites – 220 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 540 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 7 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 10% calcium, and 10% iron.)

*Made using partially hydrogenated oils.

Other Hot Pockets Snackers review:
Freezer Burns

Item: Hot Pockets Snackers (Loaded Potato Skin Bites, Grilled Italian Style Bites, Fiesta Nacho Bites & Toasted Five Cheese Ravioli)
Price: $3.00 (on sale; reg. $4.79)
Size: 10 ounces/Approx. 12 pieces
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Loaded Potato Skin Bites)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Grilled Italian Style Bites)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Fiesta Nacho Bites)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Toasted Five Cheese Ravioli)
Pros: Grilled Italian Style Bites and Fiesta Nacho Bites were tasty and have crusts that microwave well. Baked not fried. Like fancy pizza bites. Using asterisks to create ASCII pictures. Hot Pockets Snackers package may contain an extra one or two pieces. Might be able to stuff these Hot Pockets into a regular Hot Pocket to make Jim Gaffigan’s nightmare come true.
Cons: Not a low-fat food. Loaded Potato Skin Bites and Toasted Five Cheese Ravioli lacked strong flavors and had crusts that don’t microwave well. Good source of sodium. Microwave instructions are misleading because it takes over three minutes to warm them up. Made with partially hydrogenated oils. Using asterisks to let people know how scary their food could be.

REVIEW: Hot Pockets SideShots Sloppy Joes

Marvo covered Hot Pockets SideShots Mini Cheeseburgers back in January, and now I’m here to tell you about the other SideShots: Sloppy Joes.

If you’re anything like me, and most people in this country probably are, the majority of your sloppy joe experiences have come from a pound of ground beef, a can of Manwich, and some cheap generic hamburger buns. In other words, you were a poor college student or a stoner. Or both.

I haven’t had sloppy joes in at least a few years, but I remember them being messy and guiltily tasty. As your bun falls apart two seconds after you ladle on the Manwich mixture and your face and hands get covered in tangy tomato sauce, you get the feeling that you are a little too old for eating something this cheap and messy. Messy ribs at a great barbecue joint? Acceptable. Messy $1 can of tomato mix? Unacceptable. Growing up sucks.

According to the official SideShots website, “Thanks to the mini soft-baked bun, Sloppy Joes no longer requires [sic] a fork for spillage.” Bad grammar aside, perhaps Hot Pockets has come up with a solution for us adults to enjoy sloppy joes without the sloppy. Microwaving two SideShots only takes a minute and 45 seconds, perfect for a rushed lunch at the office. Of course, there’s still the fact that you’re eating Hot Pockets. I don’t know if you noticed, but all the other grown-ups brought Lean Cuisines. You better hope they don’t find out about your adult Underoos.

The SideShots come in two packages of two. I found that two of them worked well for me as a sort of half-snack half-meal, but someone with a less delicate, feminine appetite could probably eat the whole box and call it a day.

What I didn’t expect when I opened the box is that the two SideShots per pack come attached to each other. My immediate thought was, of course, “BOOBS!” Then I read through Marvo’s review and saw that he’d already made a bra joke, totally destroying my bun pun.

Okay then.

Hot Pockets SideShots are in late telophase of the microwaveable snack mitosis cycle, wherein each individual SideShot has developed its own distinct sloppy joe nucleus and a bready cell plate has formed between the two. Cytokinesis occurs after the brief heating period has been completed, when the consumer of the SideShots separates the two distinct meaty cells by means of some type of knife or other device capable of cutting them in twain.

Now don’t you wish I’d just shouted “BOOBS!” instead?

My SideShots smelled pretty good when they got out of the microwave. The bread was aromatic, and the innards had a generic sloppy joe smell to them. The enjoyment pretty much ended there, though. While the bread was really soft and had a texture I didn’t think any Hot Pockets product could achieve, the sloppy joe mixture itself left much to be desired. The tomato sauce tasted like a mixture of ketchup and Chef Boyardee Spaghetti-Os sauce. The little bits of meat looked like rabbit pellets and were incredibly mushy. When I isolated one and tried it without the sauce, it had absolutely no flavor, which is disturbing, since there was a taste of beef when I took a bite of the whole thing. Must be something they hid in the sauce.

I decided to take a look at the ingredient list, and found some unsettling phrases, like “cooked beef patty crumble” (contains 13 sub-ingredients), “dough conditioner” (I did notice the silky smooth surface of the bread!), and “dried egg yolks” (that just sounds wrong). There were promising ingredients in there, like green peppers, onions, and garlic powder (the former two were listed under the “contains less than 2% of” section), but very little of the spices and flavorings like these that you would expect to find in a sloppy joe actually came though.

When I said earlier that “I found that two of them worked well for me as a sort of half-snack half-meal,” I was speaking strictly from a fullness standpoint, not a flavor perspective. Hot Pockets SideShots Sloppy Joe aren’t awful, they’re just substandard and, frankly, taste juvenile. It seems like the same type of person who would glean enjoyment out of a cup of Easy Mac would enjoy this product. Maybe I underestimated Manwich after all.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 buns – 270 calories, 70 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 710 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 8% calcium, 20% thiamine, 8% vitamin B12, 20% folic acid, 15% iron, 10% riboflavin, 15% niacin and 10% phosphorus.)

Item: Hot Pockets SideShots Sloppy Joes
Price: $2.49
Size: 4 pack
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Bun was soft. Mitosis. Cooks up fast. Boobs. Bun contains the filling without spillage. Kids would probably love the taste.
Cons: Beef was mushy, flavorless and looked like rabbit pellets. Adult Underoos. Sauce was disappointing and lacked sloppy joe flavors. Growing up. “Dried egg yolks.”

REVIEW: Hot Pockets SideShots Mini Cheeseburgers

Hot Pockets SideShots Mini Cheeseburgers

Like Lucky Charms marshmallows, bongs and Kardashian sisters, Hot Pockets come in an array of shapes.

There’s the regular rectangular Hot Pocket, the triangular Panini Hot Pocket, the circular Deep Dish Pizzeria Hot Pocket and you can now add the strapless bra-shaped Hot Pockets SideShots Mini Cheeseburgers.

Unlike most Hot Pockets, these SideShots don’t involve a crisping sleeve. But just like all Hot Pockets, utensils aren’t necessary and they make me say to myself, “What wrong turn have I taken in my life that has led me to eating Hot Pockets?”

The Hot Pockets SideShots Mini Cheeseburgers are made up of bits of seasoned ground beef, cubes of cheese and some kind of sauce enclosed in a soft bun. They come attached in pairs, hence the strapless bra shape, and each pair is as long as a normal rectangular Hot Pocket.

While warming up a pair in the microwave for the recommended time of 1 minute 45 seconds, they made my apartment smell like a bakery, something no other Hot Pocket has ever accomplished. I took that as a sign of good things to come.

Hot Pockets SideShots Mini Cheeseburgers Innards

The buns turned out surprisingly well for something that came out of a microwave oven. They were mostly soft and only a little chewy. But what was even more astonishing to me was that they tasted just like a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger (or McDouble) — pickles and all.

While the Hot Pockets SideShots Mini Cheeseburgers do taste great, I didn’t think they were very filling and, at three dollars a box, they seem kind of pricey since one can get three heartier McDoubles for the same price. But then again, I guess they shouldn’t be as hearty since I consider consumption of a Hot Pocket as settling for something less than the real thing.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 buns – 300 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 640 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, 12 grams of protein, 10% calcium, 20% thiamine, 10% vitamin B12, 20% folic acid, 15% iron, 15% riboflavin, 15% niacin and 10% phosphorus.)

Item: Hot Pockets SideShots Mini Cheeseburgers
Price: $3.00
Size: 4 pack
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger — pickles and all. Buns came out surprisingly well. No trans fat. Contains vitamins and minerals. Made my apartment smell like a bakery. Shaped like a strapless bra.
Cons: Not very filling. Kind of pricey. Taking a wrong turn in your life, which leads you to eating a Hot Pocket. Shaped like a strapless bra.