Up­dated Pizza Pock­ets look good, don’t de­liver

McCain re­launched its pop­u­lar snack this fall, but does it pass the test?

Toronto Star - - LIFE - ARIEL TEPLITSKY TORONTO STAR

McCain Foods mo­men­tar­ily shocked and scan­dal­ized the na­tion this sum­mer when ru­mour spread that its beloved Pizza Pock­ets were be­ing dis­con­tin­ued. Mem­o­ries of late-night col­lege crav­ings, of cringe­wor­thy ’90s com­mer­cials, of cheap, pip­ing-hot puffs of goo-filled mi­crowaved dough were on the verge of be­ing scraped into the green bin of his­tory.

Alas, the alarm was pre­ma­ture. McCain’s frozen balls of ado­les­cent joy weren’t go­ing ex­tinct. They were go­ing up­mar­ket — up-marché, rather — dress­ing their best and stand­ing on their tippy toes so they wouldn’t be carded this time.

Re­launched this fall as part of a new Marché line of stuffed pas­tries, Pizza Pock­ets seem to want to be taken more se­ri­ously, to reach an older crowd with deeper, um, pock­ets (pock­ets full of nos­tal­gia, surely). Check out the coun­try-kitchen es­thetic on the new pack­ag­ing. Be­hold the pocket’s ob­long shape, with three par­al­lel grooves — from a chef’s blade, pre­sum­ably — across the top, like a miniature baguette.

This is some fine-look­ing snack food.

But what any­one who has bought these be­fore will no­tice most of all is that the box, still roughly the same size as be­fore, now con­tains only two pock­ets in­stead of four. And while the buns are a bit big­ger, the to­tal weight of one box is just 260 grams, down from 400. Con­sumers are pay­ing a sim­i­lar price (about $4 a box) for con­sid­er­ably less food.

But are the pock­ets bet­ter than be­fore? McCain as­sures us the recipe is un­changed, de­spite those baker-ly flour­ishes. Now many years re­moved from my col­lege days, I haven’t had an ex­cuse to warm up a Pizza Pocket in a long time, but the taste is a more re­cent mem­ory for sev­eral mem­bers of our panel.

I took a bite of a “deluxe” pocket, ex­pect­ing it to ooze de­li­ciously like it does in the pic­ture. The dough is nice and soft but the in­side is a rather mushy mound of salt and fat. It tastes pizza-es­que, with the ba­sics of cheese, pep­per­oni and tomato sauce, per­haps gar­lic, but in your mouth it’s hard to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the flavours. I could tell there was cheese in my “deluxe” pie be­cause it stuck to my teeth, but I had to read the in­gre­di­ents to learn there were also mush­rooms and green and red pep­pers.

Still, lack of nu­ance is un­likely to de­ter to­day’s youth from eat­ing these. What might scare them off is the price — or if they hap­pen to come across those ’90s-era TV ads on YouTube. They are just as em­bar­rass­ing as you re­mem­ber. Would I eat it again? I won’t avoid them. But un­less I start ag­ing back­wards and re­turn to high school, it seems un­likely.

ANNE-MARIE JACK­SON/TORONTO STAR

The dough is soft but the in­side is a rather mushy mound of salt and fat.

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