It’s hard to believe that something as basic as preparing a microwave lunch could go awry, but according to a recent TikTok video, a lot of us have been doing just that (some people don’t even know how a toaster works). The microwave, known for its convenience, is a quick way to heat food, but if you have been placing your dinners in the center of the spinning plate, we are sorry to inform you that you have been messing with the technology all along. “You know how when you reheat food in the microwave and some sections are hot enough to burn your mouth while the rest is frozen?” the video begins. “Well, that happens because your food shouldn’t be in the centre of the dish here.” It should be placed on the edge so that it may rotate and cook evenly.”
That is correct. Those mediocre Hot Pockets were entirely your fault all along. Now, if you are feeling a little (unevenly) scorched by such an accusation and questioning the authority of some random individual on TikTok congrats, you have mastered the critical thinking that we so desperately need in this age of pseudoscience and misinformation. Regrettably, you are still incorrect.
Makenzie Bryson Jackson, a food scientist and product development manager at Panaceutics, discusses why asymmetric microwave implantation is the way to go in a Well + Good article. It all revolves around the core function of a microwave, which is to generate heat by stimulating water molecules with electromagnetic radiation. It is a slick and quick heating option; however, it is prone to failure when “runaway heating” occurs. When certain parts of your meal start to heat up the ones that are already hot will heat up faster, resulting in uneven cooking. This is known as runaway heating, and it occurs when “you reheat food in the microwave and certain parts of it are hot enough to burn your mouth while the other part is frozen,” as the TikTokker puts it.
That spinny platter, it turns out, is not only for doing a Hot Pocket lap dance while you wait for your food to be ready, but nose also pressed up against the glass. The spinny plate is designed uniformly spread microwave waves, and placing your food on the outside of the plate rather than dead center will help to smooth out the cooking process.
Monopolizing on evenness is the same reason that many saucy microwave dinners tell you to stir halfway through heating, as doing so dilutes any scalding pockets of food. However, we do not advocate blending the insides of a Hot Pocket while it is still warm. The stuff within could be hotter than the Sun if apple pies are any indication.