|Product type||Turnovers, sandwiches, ravioli, pizza, frozen food products|
|Previous owners||Chef America Inc.|
Hot Pockets is an American brand of microwaveable turnovers generally containing one or more types of cheese, meat, or vegetables. Hot Pockets was founded by Chef America Inc. Since April 20, 2002, they have been produced by Nestlé.
Hot Pockets were developed by Paul Merage and his brother David through their company Chef America Inc. Chef America invented a packaging sleeve and dough formula to keep its calzone-like sandwiches crispy when cooked in a microwave. In 1980, Chef America introduced its first stuffed sandwich, the Tastywich, the predecessor of the Hot Pocket. Hot Pockets supplanted Tastywiches in 1983, first sold to restaurants because they were easier to break into than retail stores. On May 22, 2002, Chef America was sold to Nestlé. Hot Pocket products were "a $2 billion category of frozen sandwiches and snacks". Breakfast-style Hot Pockets were introduced in 2001.
There are 50 varieties of the traditional Hot Pocket, including breakfast, lunch and dinner varieties. Nestlé also offers Lean Pockets, Pretzel Bread Hot Pockets, Hot Pockets Croissant Crust (formerly called Croissant Pockets), Hot Pockets Breakfast items, Hot Pockets Breakfast/Snack Bites and Hot Pockets Side shots. 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". Individual Hot Pockets contain about 350 calories.
Citing reduced sales, in 2011 Nestlé announced that it would cut employee numbers at its California factory. U.S. sales were about $610 million in 2010—down $44 million from the previous year—according to Euromonitor International data.
Paul Grimwood took over Nestlé SA's struggling U.S operations in 2011. 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. Nestlé executive Chris Johnson points to an end of extended SNAP benefits in 2013 as the cause of the fallen sales, stating SNAP benefit recipients are "a big part of the consumption of this particular product."
- 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. Nestlé confirms that they had no influence with this stand-up comedy.
- In a 2015 installment of the comic strip Wizard of Id, the Huns employed a trojan Hot Pocket in their perpetual war against the Kingdom of Id, with the intention of causing them to kill themselves slowly.
- Actor DJ Qualls plays a hacker in the 2003 science fiction film The Core who subsists solely on the microwaveable snack.
2014: contaminated meat
In 2014, Nestle USA recalled 238,000 cases of its Hot Pockets because they may have contained meat from a massive recall of about 8.7 million pounds (3,900,000 kilograms) of meat from "diseased and unsound" animals. Nestle stated that "a small quantity of meat" from the Rancho Feeding Corp was used to make Hot Pockets. The USDA described the food as "unfit for humans". This Rancho 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.
2020–2021: glass and plastic fragments
In January 2021, some batches of Hot Pockets produced during November 13–16, 2020, were found to contain pieces of glass or hard plastic, posing a choking and laceration risk. The USDA issued a Class I recall, because "use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death." Affected products include Premium Pepperoni Made With Pork, and Chicken & Beef Pizza with a Garlic Buttery Crust.
- Nelson, Emily; Ellison, Sarah (August 8, 2002). "Maker of Hot Pockets Keeps to a Low Profile". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
- "Nestlé to Move HOT POCKETS and LEAN POCKETS Business to Ohio" (Press release). Nestlé. PR Newswire. February 6, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
- "Irresistibly Hot Sandwiches — Hot Pockets". hotpockets.com. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
- Wong, Venessa (July 17, 2013). "Hot Pockets, With Foodie Makeover, Tries to Mature With Millennials". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
- "Calories in Hot Pocket - Calorie, Fat, Carb, Fiber, & Protein Info". sparkpeople.com.
- Hsu, Tiffany (January 5, 2012). "Hot Pockets' Chatsworth factory cuts hours, will lay off 103 workers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
- Gasparro, Annie; Revill, John (June 30, 2014). "Nestlé U.S. Chief Looks for Brands to Fix or Toss". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
- Wong, Venessa. "Every Food Trend Goes Against Slumping Hot Pockets, Even Government Spending". Bloomberg. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
- Lynch, Rene (April 10, 2009). "Jim Gaffigan's L.A. favorites". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- "Wizard of Id by Parker and Hart, January 28, 2014". GoComics. January 28, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
- Smithouser, Bob. "The Core Movie Review". Plugged In. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
...a nerdy computer hacker known as Rat controls the flow of information and works miracles from his keyboard (requiring only an unlimited supply of Xena: Warrior Princess videotapes and microwavable Hot Pockets).
- Little, Katie (February 19, 2014). "Hot Pockets recalled on meat 'unfit' for humans". CNBC. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- Aleccia, JoNel (February 18, 2014). "Hot Pockets Included in Massive Meat Recall". NBC News. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
- Jolie Lee (February 19, 2014). "Nestle recalls two kinds of Hot Pockets". USA Today. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
- "Over 760,000 pounds of Hot Pockets recalled, may contain 'pieces of glass and plastic'". NBC News. January 16, 2021. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
- "Nestlé Prepared Foods Recalls Not-Ready-to-Eat Pepperoni Hot Pockets Product Due to Possible Foreign Matter Contamination". USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. January 15, 2021. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
- "Nestlé recalls 762,000 pounds of pepperoni Hot Pockets". AP NEWS. January 16, 2021. Retrieved January 17, 2021.