Hot Pockets, the frozen, handheld snacks typically associated with red-eyed college dudes and a Jim Gaffigan rant, are getting a makeover.
Nestle, which makes Hot Pockets, announced this week that a new line of the calzone-like foodstuffs will contain better ingredients, including "premium cuts of meat" and "real, ooey, gooey cheese." Combined with a spiffy new marketing campaign, Nestle hopes to redefine the product as a tastier, more upscale, version of the popular snack.
Hot Pockets were never exactly considered a gourmet item — Gaffigan famously called them Pop Tarts filled with "nasty meat." Yet with the rebrand, Nestle is hoping to cash in on an "artisanal" wave, and appeal to a core demographic that has become more food-conscious with age.
Here's Businessweek's Vanessa Wong on that point:
Hot Pockets was launched in 1983 and grew popular through the 1990s as a warm snack that kids could make for themselves, no stove required. Now Nestlé hopes to boost the brand's popularity among its core consumers — teenagers and young adult men — as they mature past the point of using all the kitchen appliances. That means convenience is no longer enough: Most millennials, including men, now consider themselves to be "foodies," Nestlé found, and they are focused on food quality and health. [Businessweek]
That's why the company is trying to shed the old image of a dubious dough log packed with slimy fillings and something other than "real cheese," a snack best suited to a late night attack of the munchies. The new tagline — "Better taste. Better quality" — speaks directly to that shift.
"People think frozen food is bland," the company's Marketing Director Daniel Jhung, told the Los Angeles Times. "We'd like to break that perception, to reintroduce it like something you'd make at home, just on a bigger scale."
To pitch the rebrand, the company has enlisted celebrity chef Jeff Mauro of the Food Network's "Sandwich King." Here's Mauro explaining how the new Hot Pockets are now "even more irresistibly hot."
The company previously employed Snoop Dogg to jump the shark on his career remix his song "Drop It Like It's Hot" into the jingle "Pocket Like It's Hot."
The move toward an outwardly more healthful product mirrors a trend in fast food over the past several years. Most recently, Taco Bell announced a new menu that dropped references to "meat" in favor of the more euphemistic "protein."