Hot Pockets, now with Kung-Fu Grip!

So, Hot Pockets come with a little silvery cardboard bendy-thing, which you are instructed to wrap around the pastry when you microwave it.  The instructions refer to this item as a “crisping sleeve,” which, to my mind, vaguely implies that it will somehow make the pastry more crisp.  You can also tab one end closed and use the sleeve to hold your pastry after it is cooked, much like the sleeve on a cup of hot coffee.  I suppose this feature of the sleeve is helpful for people who don’t know the difference between microwaving something for two minutes and microwaving something for twenty minutes.

At any rate, I have noticed that my hot pockets never seem to be especially crisp, even though I am quite certainly using the crisping sleeve correctly.  So, I thought I’d try something.  A few minutes ago, when I was hungry, I put delicious pizza hot pockets in the microwave.  One was inside the crisping sleeve; the other was not.  In a rather unscientific comparison, my observation is that the resulting hot pockets were exactly the same.  After switching them around in a three-card-Monte-esque manner, I had no idea which one had been in the sleeve and which hadn’t.  My conclusion — the crisping sleeve did exactly jack squat.

That said, both hot pockets were delicious.

But, that got me thinking (the uncrisp foods; not their nonetheless deliciousness): if the “crisping sleeve” isn’t actually there to make the hot pocket more crisp, what exactly does it do?  I see two possibilities, neither of which reflects well on either the consumer or the hot pockets.

First, the crisping sleeve does nothing to the food; it is just silver cardboard.  It is, however, a feature, and therefore an impressive thing that will motivate consumers to buy the product.  “Hot Pockets, now with Crisping Sleeve!!”  That is, the marketing for Hot Pockets is deceptive and evil, and consumers are idiots.  That… sounds about right, really.

Second, people do really get burned by the pastries often enough (and perhaps sue often enough?) that it seemed wise to include a sleeve with which to hold the hot food.  But, knowing that consumers aren’t going to spend five seconds putting a sleeve on food when they could be eating it while being badly burned instead, Nestlé (the maker of Hot Pockets©) concocted the “crisping sleeve” label to encourage hungry consumers to put the sleeve on before the pastry goes in the microwave, and it’s already there when the hot food comes out.  So, the product design team for Hot Pockets assumes that consumers are reckless but manipulable, and consumers, again, are idiots.  That sounds about right too.

Now, it’s true that none of this prevented me from enjoying my hot pockets.  But, as a consumer who occasionally pretends to see through the manipulations of the consumption machine even though almost certainly I really don’t, I feel vaguely offended that this product assumes I’m an idiot.  I’d really like it to be a little better hidden that my pizza pastries think they’re smarter than I am.

I have a university degree.  I’m smarter than a Hot Pocket.

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