New Food items coming in MREs- what did you eat?

I just read an article in the Army Times about new items the Department of Defense is adding in the MREs- the Meals Ready to Eat.  The new delicacies include Skittles, Au Grain potatoes, Asian pepper steak fry, a Banana nut Ranger bar, and Asian pepper steak fry.  Yummy.

MREs have been around a long while as the grandchild of C-rations, feeding soldiers on deployment, in the combat zone and during training when a hot meal is not available.  I remember most of us groaning when MREs were the meal.  Some of them were actually good though.  The Chicken stir fry tasted like La Choy's canned version mom heated up now and then at home.  The Beef Stew was also quite edible.  I also enjoyed the freeze-dried fruit cocktail, which had the texture of styrofoam but melted in your mouth once inhaled.  One I avoided however was the "Eggs with Ham".  I did not want to eat any eggs that had been on a shelf for years!  Along with the food I was amused by the chiclet gum, the small, small, small package of toilet paper ( I guess after the MRE constipated you they didn't think you needed much!!) and the tiny glass bottle of Tabasco.


I'd love to hear what your memories are of military food and meals.  Comment below or tell the story in the forum.

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Comment by David M Drees on January 10, 2012 at 1:58pm

I was never exposed to C-rations or MREs.  All I had was chow hall food.  Being a lowly airman, it was all I could afford.  Not always the best, but I survived.  Chow hall food is where I also learned to love liver.  Hard as shoe leather, but I liked it.  Don't ask me why. I'm sure my mother's cooking was a whole lot better.  Whenever she made it for dinner, we had to eat it and I swore when I moved out I'd never eat it again. 

Comment by Teresa Perkins Markham on January 9, 2012 at 11:40am

Donald-LtCol Charles (Marvin) Perkins was my Uncle and Duane my father. They both were in the Air Force. Uncle Marvin served in Office of Special Investigation in his career. My father flew cargo planes and was a forward air controller in Vietnam.

Comment by Eugene Patrick Meechan on January 9, 2012 at 10:39am

When I was in the Navy on the Montrose APA 212 we had lcvps or popa boats the guys on them heated the cs on the engines of them.I was a bow hook on one boat.

Comment by Rick Brittle on January 9, 2012 at 10:19am

Claudia...the smell of the food? All things are relative. And, there's no exhaust odors on the engine...those are expelled out the back.

More recently...(late 80's), while on manuevers in Germany and as part of an M88 (Recovery vehicle) crew. We would take a 3 pound canned ham, pop a couple of holes in the lid and place it under our personnel heater. While spending a few hpours on the recovery mission, the ham was getting hot enough to eat a warm meal. As you can work a soldier long, but you're not going to work them hard. There are ways to make every situation more tolerable.

Comment by Claudia Bartow on January 6, 2012 at 11:31pm
This is so interesting....thanks for sharing!
Comment by Faye Oney on January 6, 2012 at 10:55pm

The following stories are taken from U.S. Army Corporal Bill Megla's archive of stories, which I documented for him. Bill spent time in prison camps in Moosberg, Germany during World War II.

Sawdust bread

I was in charge of handing out the food to our group. They used to give us a small loaf of bread. It was full of sawdust -- they baked the sawdust in with the dough. Sometimes I would start to cut slices of bread and ran into a big piece of wood; my knife wouldn't go through it.

Old green beans

One time I saw a sack of dehydrated green beans that was brought up for the cooks to prepare for us. I saw the date on the sack was 1936 -- 8 years ago! They had been preparing that long for our capture.


Once I found the eyeball and jawbone of a horse in my soup. During the bombing raids, they used a lot of horses to pull stuff around, since gasoline was scarce.The horses would get killed in the air raids. They would then butcher the horses and feed the meat to us.


The coffee we drank was made from chicory, which is a type of nut.

To read more of Bill's stories, you can download his book here.

Comment by Claudia Bartow on January 6, 2012 at 9:52pm
Rick, how did the food not taste like fumes after being strapped to a running engine? Military people are so ingenious!
Comment by Eugene Patrick Meechan on January 6, 2012 at 9:51pm

We called them John Waynes.the can opners.When I worked for State of Ohio Ferderal Surplus Porperty in Columbus they allocated a lot of mres from another state to use in our prisons.They found out that they didn't have enough nutrition to give to them.I think they returned them to the other state.This true.

Comment by DONALD WILBUR DEGOOD on January 6, 2012 at 4:45pm

Rick: I also have a P38 somewhere around here.Years back when we were first married our can opener wasn't working and I showed my wife a P38 and never got it back. I hope it is still in the junk drawer  where I last saw it. They worked but were a sum bitch with cold  fingers in Korea.

Comment by Rick Brittle on January 6, 2012 at 4:29pm

Teresa...the tri-angle opener was a P-38. I absolutely still have one on my key chain. I don't use it at all, I just like the memory it holds.

A good mess sergeant can't be beat! During Desert Shield/Storm. While everyone else was eating a cold breakfast, my company was eating a hot breakfast! Mess SGT was trading MRE's to Brit's for their meals. It seems their meals came in platoon size servings not individual servings. When they would come back from missions, there may or may not have been meals for them. MRE's meant they could carry their meals with them!

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