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Hot Pockets, With Foodie Makeover, Tries to Mature With Millennials

Food Network's "Sandwich King" Jeff Mauro with the new Hot Pockets brand sandwiches in Los Angeles, on July 16, 2013
Food Network's "Sandwich King" Jeff Mauro with the new Hot Pockets brand sandwiches in Los Angeles, on July 16, 2013Photograph by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Nestlé Prepared Foods/Hot Pockets/AP Images

Hot Pockets turns 30 this year, and the brand of frozen, flaky meat-and-cheese-stuffed rolls wants to show it can grow up alongside the millennials who made the microwavable snack an after-school staple. Nestlé announced a major rebranding effort Tuesday that includes new Hot Pockets ingredients, packaging, and advertising. The revamped line, on grocery store shelves now, contains “premium cuts of meat,” “seasoned crusts,” and “real cheese” (and raising the unfortunate question as to what was inside Hot Pocket before).

Hot Pockets was launched in 1983 and grew popular through the 1990s as a warm snack that kids could make for themselves, no stove required. Now Nestlé hopes to boost the brand’s popularity among its core consumers—teenagers and young adult men—as they mature past the point of using all the kitchen appliances. That means convenience is no longer enough: Most millennials, including men, now consider themselves to be “foodies,” Nestlé found, and they are focused on food quality and health. Gone is the “What are you gonna pick?” jingle from the 1990s. The new tagline: “Better taste. Better quality.” Gone is the previous beef in favor of Angus for the steak pockets.