It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed a product intended for mothers, although our last mother-related product is targeted towards expecting mothers instead of mothers with kids who are capable of cramming food into their faces. Or maybe this product is targeted towards adult children, man babies, or bachelors looking to get that homemade flavor. All of those market segments should be completely capable of operating a microwave/toaster oven and piling a Hot Pocket-like food product in their food hole. Anyway, I’m not really a mom or a parent of any kind so I’m not particularly interested in that aspect of the product. Instead I want to know how this product appeals to the silent but powerful “adult child, man baby, and bachelor” demographic.
Since we (me?) are not interested in its appeal to children, let’s talk about its adult appeal. The packaging shows a good-sized golden brown turnover loaded with chicken, rice and cheese. It’s really tasty to look at but as we all know, food products never look like the packaging. Which is fine. I’m used to freezer food looking like dog barf. I even chastised Freezer Burns for razzing a product based on its packaging. To be honest, I expect very little from food packaging photography. It’s a photograph of a product made by professional cooks in a gourmet test kitchen with the expressed purpose of being pretty. What I do expect is for the product in the photo to contain the same amount of ingredients as whatever is in what I purchased. I don’t care if they use photography magic as long as everything I’m about to buy is in the photo in the appropriate quantities. Additives like motor oil, marbles and hair spray do not bother me even though I’m a “food photography purist” simply because I understand the challenges of working in a production environment on a deadline for massive paychecks.
Now that I have that rant out of the way, the actual product looks nothing like the box. Instead of a meal-sized calzone loaded with gooey chicken and beans, you get a snack-sized rectangle. This thing is genuinely small, but I should have realized it would be when the box contents said “5 oz” and each serving was only 220 calories (upon further review, a chicken Hot Pocket with Broccoli Cheddar has 290 Calories). It was a little disappointing to say the least, but hey, since there are two, I can review both recommended food prep techniques!
Microwave Radiation is the Best Radiation
Most folks who are going to eat a toaster pastry loaded with savory filling are going to turn to the microwave for some near instant gratification. It’s how lazy people don’t starve and why “lunch hours” are only thirty-minutes long. (If I was a boss, I would rename it the “Lunch Half Hour,” or the “lunchtime microwave scramble time extravaganza.”) Anyways, the box recommends that these should be microwaved for a minute to a minute and a half so that’s what I did. (I ignored the “toast for a crispier crust” statement since the result wouldn’t be any better than cooking this guy in the toaster oven).
After my excruciatingly long minute was up I pulled my two and a half inch square of whole wheat and chicken filling out of the oven, which for some reason or another reached a temperature of 5,742,623 degrees Fahrenheit in the microwave. After allowing it to cool for a few minutes I sat down and took a big old man baby bite out of my pastry and found that it was simultaneously mealy, grainy, and dry. The filling wasn’t beany, cheesy or tasty. I’d actually go out on a limb and say it was bland, dry, and hardly worth my time. The crust, like most microwaved crusts was basically rubbery and mealy crap. Perhaps all of the moisture in the filling ended up in the crust leaving a dessert like center surrounded by a swampy exterior. I’d highly recommend not microwaving these.
Toasty The Toaster Oven
I generally ignore toaster oven instructions because I’ve had horrible luck with them. Instead I cook in my ovens using the old eyeball method, thermometer method, and finger method simply because they’re the most reliable methods I’ve found to date. I mean the instructions are fine for getting in the ball park but I can usually find a more optimal cooking temperature and time for most products. Today I set the pastry up for 325 and watched it for ~ 20 minutes before yanking it out. The crust took on a nice and healthy toasting which was a pretty good indicator to pull my “munchie” out of the oven. I’m sure it would have browned a little more if I left it in the oven a little longer, but the microwaved guy left me hungry and the 20 minute wait was getting to be unbearable.
The crust had a decent break in my mouth but it was still mealy. This is probably due to frozen whole whole wheat and its inability to reheat well. I found the filling to be much moister but it was still bland. The beans tasted like rice, the rice tasted like rice, the chicken tasted like rice. It was all very homogeneous tasting with no flavor variation between the various chunks. I would also like to point out that there was very little filling in the pastry. There’s definitely a high breading to filling ratio with the bread overwhelming the filling with every bite. If I wanted toast with goo on it, I’d have gotten myself some toast and slathered it in cheese.
At $1.99, these are not an adequate replacement for the bachelor’s staple of Hot Pockets and beer. They’re really not much healthier than Hot Pockets and beer either. At least not my favorite, Chicken with Broccoli and Cheddar which weighs in at 290 calories. If you eat two of these guys in attempt to feel more full you’ll actually do much worse than a proper Hot Pocket in EVERY department. But then again, I’m the kind of person who is typically satisfied with one Hot Pocket (all of this sodium is going to kill me one of these days).
If you see these in your local grocery, or even your outlet store, I would pass on them. They’re not particularly filling, nor are they particularly tasty. Heck, they’re not even that healthy unless you believe being organic makes up for containing 22% of your daily saturated fat intake per microscopic square. I hate to say it but these just aren’t improvement over the status quo.
Don’t believe me? Check out a variety pack for yourself.