Hot Pockets are microwaveable turnovers generally containing one or more types of cheese, meat, or vegetables. Hot Pockets was founded by the Chef America Inc. company. Since 2002, they have been produced by Nestlé.
There are more than 20 varieties of the traditional Hot Pocket, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner varieties. Nestlé also offers Lean Pockets, Pretzel Bread Hot and Lean Pockets, Hot Pockets Croissant Crust (formerly called Croissant Pockets), Hot Pockets Breakfast items, and Hot Pockets Sideshots. Nestlé formerly produced Hot Pie Express, Hot Pocket Pizza Minis (originally called Hot Pockets Pizza Snacks), Hot Pockets Subs, Hot Pockets Calzones, Hot Pockets Panini, and Hot Pockets Breakfast fruit pastries. Hot Pockets are viewed as "an after school staple".
Hot Pockets were invented by Paul Merage and David Merage in the 1970s. They founded the company Chef America Inc. and began producing Hot Pockets in 1983, which is when it landed in grocery stores. In 2002 Chef America was sold to Nestlé, and (as of 2012) Hot Pocket products are "now a $4.5 billion category of frozen sandwiches and snacks". Breakfast style Hot Pockets were introduced in 2001.
Citing reduced sales, in 2012 Nestlé announced that it would cut employee numbers at its California factory. Euromonitor International data shows U.S. sales falling down about $30 million from 2009 to about $614 million in 2010, .
Paul Grimwood took over Nestlé SA's struggling U.S. operations in 2012. In an attempt to bolster the failing brand by improving supply chain, Grimwood made the decision to drop the calzone version of Hot Pockets and the quesadillas Lean Pockets, reducing the number of doughs needed.
Comedic references by Jim Gaffigan
Comedian Jim Gaffigan is well known for his material poking fun at Hot Pockets. This material is so popular among fans that he is regularly offered Hot Pockets while on tour. The video became a YouTube sensation. Nestlé confirms that they had no influence with this stand up comedy. The Huns in the comic strip Wizard of Id served a trojan Hot Pocket to win the ever ongoing war against the King of Id, by letting them kill themselves slowly.
In 2014 Nestle USA recalled over 238,000 cases of its Hot Pockets because they may have contained meat from a massive recall of nearly 9 million pounds of meat from "diseased and unsound" animals. Nestle stated that "a small quantity of meat" from the Ranchero Feeding Corp was used to make Hot Pockets. The USDA described the food as "unfit for humans". This Ranchero Feeding Corp meat recall was based out of a production facility in California, but the recalled Hot Pockets were distributed nationwide. The two types of Hot Pockets involved in the recall were the Philly Steak and Cheese and the Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese. A full federal inspection was not performed, and there were no illnesses reported in connection to this recall. Customers who bought the recalled products were refunded by contacting Nestle Consumer Service.
- Venessa Wong. "Hot Pockets, With Foodie Makeover, Tries to Mature With Millennials". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
- Nestlé (February 6, 2012). "Nestlé to Move HOT POCKETS and LEAN POCKETS Business to Ohio" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- Hsu, Tiffany (January 5, 2012). "Hot Pockets' Chatsworth factory cuts hours, will lay off 103 workers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
- Annie Gasparro; John Revill. "Nestlé U.S. Chief Looks for Brands to Fix or Toss". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- Rene Lynch (10 April 2009). "Jim Gaffigan's L.A. favorites". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- "Wizard of Id by Parker and Hart, January 28, 2014 Via @GoComics". GoComics. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Aleccia, JoNel. "Hot Pockets Included in Massive Meat Recall". NBC News. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
- Jolie Lee. "Nestle recalls two kinds of Hot Pockets". Retrieved 13 April 2015.
- Katie Little. "Hot Pockets recalled on meat 'unfit' for humans". Retrieved 27 March 2015.