Throwback Thursday: The Physics of Hot Pockets (Synopsis)

“Is your Hot Pocket cold in the middle?”
“It’s frozen. But it can be served boiling lava hot.”
“Will it burn my mouth?”
“It’ll destroy your mouth. Everything will taste like rubber for a month.”  
-Jim Gaffigan

You've all had the experience: you're all excited to microwave your favorite snack. So you pull it out of the freezer, you throw it in, and you let it rip. A minute or two later, you pull it out, and there it is: boiling on the outside, frozen in the middle. Welcome to the world of hot pockets.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Tony Branston, via a C.C.-SA-2.0 license. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Tony Branston, via a C.C.-SA-2.0 license.

The question, of course, is why? And what could you do about it? And -- in the case of the hot pocket in particular -- what's the deal with the crisping sleeve?

Answers to all these questions on today's Throwback Thursday; go read the whole thing and enjoy!

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i put a pan of water into the oven to have steam when baking bread. i guess it helps to transport the energy into the cold loaf. is that a correct explanation for why my bread bakes faster and gets a slightly softer crumb with the steam?

By dot tilde dot (not verified) on 16 May 2014 #permalink

Are these pockets core@shell structure materials? Does that means core@shell structure materials may be different in their physical and chemical properties of the core/shell? Is there any synergiric effect between the core and shell?
Thank you.

By Long Yuan (not verified) on 17 May 2014 #permalink

I think we missed the hot pockets thing here in the UK.
But we did have a similar problem with pop-tarts!

By David Hurn (not verified) on 17 May 2014 #permalink

dot tilde dot wrote,
"i put a pan of water into the oven to have steam when baking bread. i guess it helps to transport the energy into the cold loaf. is that a correct explanation for [1.] why my bread bakes faster and [2.] gets a slightly softer crumb with the steam?

1. Yes.
2. No. The hardness is due to dehydration. Water is a solvent. Bricks are dried mud. The steam prevents dryness and overheating of the crust, keeping it softer than it would be otherwise.

By Jason Taylor (not verified) on 19 May 2014 #permalink

Thanks so much for the article & sharing your journalistic talent. It's so rare to read an article that is entertaining, educational, and the author knows how to craft a sentence.

Howard

So the simple solution to this is to thaw your Hot Pockets - store them in the refrigerator instead. Nothing frozen; all water molecules rotate more evenly.