Hot Pockets Faces Mid-life Crisis

You know that feeling you get when you meet someone and they’re clearly acting like someone they’re not? You’re kind of just irritated and want to avoid seeing them again. Well, that’s the kind of feeling I get with Hot Pockets’ new re-branding campaign. Come on, Hot Pockets. I mean really, come on. When you now say that your meat is “premium”, that your cheese is “real”, and that your dough is “baked fresh daily”, you’re either taking humor advertising too far or you’re simply underestimating Millennials’ basic ability to reason. 1+1=2. Mix yellow and blue paint to make green. There are 12 inches in a foot. Hot Pockets are not good for you.

Just try watching the company’s new promo video without cringing like you just saw a guy still “bro-ing out” at a 30s+ cocktail party. I dare you to accept the believability of scenes from their new innovation kitchen (definitely not just a stage set-up for the promo) where it looks like chefs are preparing for the last Thanksgiving ever. I challenge you to take the dialogue between new Hot Pockets spokesman Jeff Mauro and Chef Vendôme (aka “The Big Sauce Boss”) at face-value (note that historically, having a chef with an “ô” in their name instead of just a regular “o” ensures a higher quality product). It’s baffling that Hot Pockets wants you to take a bite of their ambiguous goo-filled croissant you just microwaved for two minutes and think, “mmm, compliments to the chef!”

Sorry, Hot Pockets. Putting a wooden cutting board under your product doesn’t make it fresh. After 30 years as the go-to, lazy snack/dinner/“I hate myself”-meal, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just say your product is high-quality. 60 percent of Hot Pockets’ consumers are young adult males, so the company is probably worried that those guys will eventually get married and their wives will make them stop eating foods that burn the insides of their body with hot lava-like “cheese” (and help them avoid becoming this guy). Hot Pockets’ marketing director Daniel Jhung says that two-thirds of young males the company surveyed in New York City before re-branding “consider themselves foodies”, and the brand is trying to play to that change. God help the delusional “foodie” who still buys Hot Pockets. The equivalent would be the indie music snob whose guilty pleasure is Miley Cyrus.

Hot Pockets, we all love you. You’re the goofy, joke of a food that has been around for a while and whose ridiculous-ness is endearing. Was it not just last year that you told us to “Pocket Like It’s Hot”? Was it not you that helped define comedian Jim Gaffigan’s career? It’s sad to see you like this. Besides the continued use of this guy as your mascot, you’re living a lie – just like Jeff Mauro pretending that he is endorsing this product based on his sandwich expertise. Admittedly, you’re in a hard place. Millennials do want higher-quality foods, but you may be reaching a little too high here. We all know Hot Pockets are not fresh, oven-baked pizzas.

Nevertheless, a 30th birthday is a birthday, even if it is marred by the makeover of a mid-life crisis. Here’s to remembering your roots:

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