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 the Chef America Inc. company. Since May 22, 2002, they have been produced by NestlÃ©.
There are more than 30 varieties of the traditional Hot Pocket, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner varieties. NestlÃ© 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 Sideshots. NestlÃ© 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".
Hot Pockets were invented by Paul Merage and David Merage in the 1970s originally under the name Chunk Stuffers. They founded the company Chef America Inc. and began producing Hot Pockets in 1983, which is when it landed in grocery stores. On May 22, 2002 Chef America was sold to NestlÃ©. Hot Pocket products were "a $2 billion category of frozen sandwiches and snacks". Breakfast style Hot Pockets were introduced in 2001.
Citing reduced sales, in 2011 NestlÃ© announced that it would cut employee numbers at its California factory. U.S. sales were about $610 million in 2010â€”down $44 million from the previous yearâ€”according to Euromonitor International data.
Paul Grimwood took over NestlÃ© 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. NestlÃ© 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."
In 2014, Nestle USA recalled 238,000 cases of its Hot Pockets because they may have contained meat from a massive recall of about 8.7Â 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.