Sing it with me now: “HOT POCKETS!” You know the jingle. It’s been ingrained in your mind since childhood. So how does a product branded for “moms on the go” so closely associated with a catchy non-threatening middle jingle become cool? It’s easy. Follow the beer ad template: stack up the irony and outrageousness, throw in a psychotically hilarious pitchman and a hot babe and voilà! The perfect mock infomercial.
But I do wonder for Hot Pockets and other brands: is it a dangerous tightrope to walk to engage in self-aware irony and mock yourself? Does a company come off better by making fun of itself and acknowledging a flaw in its product?
Here’s the ad:
The “authentic way to bring BBQ home!” Now with REAL cheese!
Everyone agrees that Hot Pockets are just adequate. They are pretty much the definition of a “meh” snack. Easy to transport and microwave, and they have some flavors that were definitely working. And they could have stopped there. But then they went out and created Chili Sauce Cheese Dog and BBQ Recipe Bacon Burger. And then they made them LIMITED EDITION! Standing in stark contrast to the Lay’s flavor scientists who can’t be bothered to do their job, the folks at Hot Pockets seem to be doing market research on college campuses at 3 a.m. and actually listening to the consumer. Do these sound appetizing? Not sober. Do these look appetizing? Not without beer goggles. Will thousands of drunk people eat them with reckless abandon? Duh. They’re Hot Pockets.
Yeah, we know, Hot Pockets are VERY HOT. But look, a model!
This Hot Pockets infomercial brilliantly acknowledges that when Hot Pockets emerge from the microwave, they are the temperature of the great Chicago fire. The heat retention power of a Hot Pocket is nothing short of scientifically extraordinary. Except that it’s really a negative aspect of their product. People have been burning their mouths on Hot Pockets for decades. Hot Pockets, it turns out, are too damn hot.
The creation of Wanda, whose sole purpose is to be a hot babe who blows on the super-hot Hot Pockets (say that 3 times fast), is a clever way of winking at the viewer that they’re aware Hot Pockets are filled with cheese-flavored molten lava. They’ve turned their product’s major flaw into a continuous running joke. The host asks Wanda to keep blowing — a thinly veiled sexual reference to appeal to their “new” beer-swigging male demographic — and it’s a perfect distraction. You don’t care that Hot Pockets are hotter than the earth’s core because there is a comparably hot babe present, and she’s graciously offered her cooling-off services. Hot Pockets isn’t dismissing the allegiance you’ve had for their product since childhood, they’re just reminding you that now that you’re of age – “Hey, we’re not just for 10-year-olds!”
JUST MICRO IT! AND FORGET IT (FORGET THAT IT’S SUPER-HOT!)
I love infomercials. Ron Popeil is a god amongst men. Set it and forget it! When he hits that Showtime barbecue with a hammer to show its durability? THAT is showmanship. The Sham-WOW guy had his day in the sun with his micro-machines style delivery, too. But let’s pass the torch to this Toby Turner guy. In a 12-second span he delivers the phrases “Wabam Slam Sham Done!” and “Hotted Hot Deliciousity” (ed note: stealing this) and then does a Creed voice (at the 1:01 mark).
Go back to the 2:25 mark and watch when he applauds Wanda at her nod. That’s comic gold. Do they give Webby Awards for best actor in infomercials on YouTube? Because this man needs to win. He’s distracted you from how gross the flavors are and that they will emerge at a temperature not fit for human consumption. Most importantly and improbably, he’s made Hot Pockets cool. Forget a Webby. Give him an Oscar.
Editor’s note: we discovered as this piece was published that Hot Pockets has a new spokesperson — none other than Snoop Lion. We thought it couldn’t get any better. It just did.
More AdSnacking on Food Republic: