Hot Pockets are nothing new, original, or even modern. They have much in common with many french "individual pie" dishes which featured various ingredients stuffed into small shells of pie crust or puff pastry (ok, so maybe you coudn't get them in "Ham'n'cheese" or "pepperoni pizza" varieties). Indeed a dish which I feel is superior to a hot pocket can easily be made at home using store bought puff pastry ( a smaller version of my own Lamb in Pastry ). Simply cook up a filling, seal it in an envelope of puff pastry and bake at 400 degrees for 10-20 minutes. Not as convenient or as cheap as a Hot Pocket, but much better tasting.

The Hot Pocket
Hot Pockets are a prime example of truly fast food; 3:33 in the microwave and you have yourself a meal. It may not be the most delicious thing on the planet, but it provides sustenance and calories in a rather tasty format.

Hot Pockets (as well as their siblings Lean Pockets and Croissant Pockets), touted as "America's Favorite Stuffed Sandwich," are simply ingredients such as cheese and meat wrapped up in a flaky crust. They are properly stored frozen, and typically cooked in a microwave. The culinary overlords of Nestle provide them after they purchased the Hot Pocket company in 1999.

According to their FAQ (available at, you guessed it,, Hot Pockets were introduced in 1983. Lean Pockets followed this in 1987, and finally Croissant Pockets were unleashed in 1995. Lean Pockets contain only 7 grams of fat, while the Croissant Pockets are known for their "special pastry crust." Guess which bakery item they are similar to?

None of the Hot Pockets are really all that healthy. Lean Pockets, while only carrying 7 grams of fat, still pack around 250 calories per serving (a serving is one pocket). Given that they're typically consumed in pairs, that's 500 calories in about 9 ounces of food. People don't eat Hot Pockets for a nutritious meal; they eat them because they're fast, hot, and relatively palatable.

Hot Pockets should always be stored frozen. The website doesn't recommend you eat them once thawed, although the chances of something microbial surviving three minutes in the microwave are quite slim.

To cook a Hot Pocket, put it inside its little crisping sleeve and shove it into your microwave. Nuke according to your directions (for the extremely lazy, just put two in the microwave and press the number 3 thrice to get 3:33), and wait a few minutes once they're cooked for the heat to disseminate throughout the filling. The odd part about Hot Pockets is that if you eat them right away, the outside will be blisteringly hot... and the inside will still be frozen. I suspect this has something to do with the crisping sleeve, but just letting the little buggers settle for a few minutes seems to solve the problem.

I have yet to commit the heresy of not using the crisping sleeve, but not using them might solve the problem of the frozen center core. Then again, I'm lazy and would just rather eat the stupid thing and deal with the temperature differential than press forth the boundaries of science.

There are twenty-two varieties of Hot Pocket, not including miscellaneous offerings such as Mini Pizzas and Waffles:

Culinary Evaluation
You are best off sticking to the more mundane varieties of Hot Pocket: anything with “pizza” in it is good. The Steak and Cheese is also palatable. Avoid anything designed for breakfast (unless you like McEgg). The Lean Pockets are very good despite their name (for those people on Weight Watchers, Lean Pockets cost between five and six points), but they certainly should not serve as any form of dietary supplement.

As inspired by this node.

C-Dawg has just informed me that the crisping sleeve "somehow simulates cooking in a conventional oven," and that failure to comply with established cooking methodology will result in a soggy crust. So there you go.

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