Hot Pocket Dissection

Have you ever wondered what makes a Hot Pocket tick? Of course you have, but these kind of secrets are well-guarded, so your exploratory efforts may have been in vain. On October 22, we opened one up under the bright lights at Cockeyed Labs.

Brooke and I began the procedure by slicing open the Hot Pocket packaging. The Hot Pockets can remain in stasis within these protective boxes for several years. This one had the markings for Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza.

We got lucky with this box, and found a healthy set of twins inside!

Next, we removed the plastic wrapping.

Finally we had the subject isolated and on the dissection board. We were three hours into the operation.

Brooke marked it with the "Double-Y" and we cut through the first layer of skin.

We carefully peeled back the skin. Nothing could have prepared us for what we found inside. Immediately we could see a tomato-based sauce and tiny white bulbs of solid matter. We quickly identified some pepperoni and onion particles.

Brooke pinned back the skin and we scanned for internal structures. There was a lot of sauce over everything, so it was something of a treasure hunt.

I had to adjust my gloves a few times during the procedure.

Brooke cut off a piece of the skin for closer examination.

We made a few prelim observations about the light, flaky crust, but that sample was lost before we got it under a microscope.

The tedious cataloguing of the internal organs began. Brooke kept a log while I sorted and separated the innards. We helped each other remember the Latin names for everything.

When we had cleared out the inside, I cut into the skin to see if I could find any more surprises.

When we were finished, we had a nice spread of the internal contents.

With the dissection finished, we decided to continue with one additional experiment: We subjected the Hot Pocket to 350F for 20 minutes.

The heat had a browning effect on the crust. The cheese melted and bubbled.

We were both hungry and tired when the project was over. It was way past dinner-time. I always lose track of the time when I am in the lab! We cleaned up the plates and put all the instruments into Brooke's autoclave.

Results: A Hot Pocket is a small rectangle of bread crust containing a tomato-based pizza sauce. We found the following solids:

14 pieces of cheese; 2 pieces of pepperoni, totaling less than one slice; 6 pieces of sausage; 15 pieces of onion; 9 pieces of bell pepper; 2 tiny slivers of mushroom.

In conclusion, the Hot Pocket remains much of a mystery. Although we found a good variety of contents, we are baffled as to how all the parts work together. Further study is needed on its brain-function, respiration and reproduction. Maybe I'll bring some along to the soccer game!

I hope you'll join us again soon at Science Club!


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January 1999.

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