Tasting All These Years
May 4, 2016 1:57 PM   Subscribe

For some people, the answer to "Should I eat that?" is always yes.

In the MREinfo community, military "meals ready to eat" are both a fascination and a source of digestive pride. These folks collect old MREs and eat them (or at least taste them) on YouTube, sharing all the gory gustatory details with their fans.

Would you like to try some cookies from the Korean war?

Or perhaps you'd prefer some chicken and rice meant to keep the boys fightin' in Vietnam?

If you want a more recent selection, how about the "Four Fingers of Death." i.e. frankfurters from 1982? Choice quote "I don't wanna eat any of that. Well, let's try a little bite."

If you'd like an entrée from this century, we have international selections from China, Japan, Latvia, and Russia. No matter when or where it comes from, it's all food. Sort of.
posted by Kevin Street (17 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
posted by leotrotsky at 2:03 PM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

If video games have taught me anything it's that this stuff will be good for at least 200 years.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:09 PM on May 4, 2016 [6 favorites]

This reminds me of my freshman year in college, 1981-82. It turns out our dorm was designated as a fallout shelter, and had a bunch of emergency rations stored in the attic. At some point during the year some of the more intrepid folks found a way into the attic and brought back among other things a big tin of survival biscuits. It looked like it might have been 20 years old or so but I don't remember there being any markings that had a date. We managed to get it open somehow and it was packed full of what were basically unsalted, slightly stale soda crackers (or unsalted saltines). Edible, but about the most bland foodstuff you can imagine.
posted by TedW at 2:22 PM on May 4, 2016

I bought a bag of pork scratchings (what we in the UK call fried pork rinds) from a newsagent in a fairly remote part of the UK a few years ago. They were a bit soft, and didn't have a lot of flavour. I checked the 'best before' date and, lo and behold, they were fifteen years out of date. How they'd survived a decade and a half of stocktaking I have no idea.

I'd eat them again. They weren't that bad.
posted by pipeski at 2:35 PM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've only watched the 'cookies' link but that was hilarious. Eating 65 year old cookies--everything went better than expected!
posted by danny the boy at 3:00 PM on May 4, 2016

My sister was in JROTC and she said that one day the (slightly senile) colonel brought in some kind of unopened rations from his time in Vietnam for the class to experience. She said they ate the chocolate, which was apparently not very good, but that he quickly took away the amphetamines before anyone could try those.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:09 PM on May 4, 2016 [4 favorites]

A buddy of mine who's ex-Marine says MRE stands for "Meals Ready to Eject". :)
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:32 PM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

One of the things that I've read is that most candy doesn't really spoil, because of the sugar preserving it; the dusty or off-white color that chocolate gets, especially in warm temperatures, is from "blooming" or cocoa butter separating and coming to the surface. I wonder if the chocolate from the Vietnam rations was really one of Hershey's infamous "Tropical Bars".
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:36 PM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I fell into this rabbit hole on YouTube this past winter. It was a kiwi dude with a darling 4 or 5 year old daughter (yummy! she said diplomatically about everything). Not sure why but it made me want French and German MREs to take camping. Japanese and Polish and Norwegian food, the differences were fascinating.
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:14 PM on May 4, 2016

We used to eat rations occasionally when I was a young un in Germany. My older siblings claim it was when the parents had run out of money at the end of the month and my dad would bring them home from work but I don't remember that. I just remember them being fun to unpack. Matches, cigarettes, gum, toilet paper. This was in the early 60s so they were probably WWII surplus.
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:24 PM on May 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Assault entrée"? That's what my girlfriend calls many of the delightful pre-meal snacks I laboriously prepare for her.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:25 PM on May 4, 2016

I could see myself trying these out but probably wouldn't let any 4-5 yr old child of mine near these things. My dad was working in Saudi Arabia when the Gulf War broke and I only remember packets if Goldfish crackers in the emergency boxes they were giving out. I wish I'd taken notice of the other less familiar packets.
posted by theappleonatree at 4:28 PM on May 4, 2016

It was this guy.

This reminds me of another dietary oddity of an Army brat upbringing. We were a tea drinking family and when I was very young there was always a can of Carnation Evaporated Milk on the breakfast table. My older siblings, raised in Okinawa where fresh milk was unavailable (this would have been the early 1950s), developed a taste for the canned stuff and didn't like fresh milk in their tea.
posted by Bee'sWing at 4:55 PM on May 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have heard of MREs described as "three lies for the price of one."
posted by 4ster at 8:01 PM on May 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Why not enjoy evangelist Jim Bakker's "Peace of Mind Final Countdown Offer" -- 31,000 servings for only $4500. Chef Greg Lauro says it tastes like "a bathroom at a bar at the end of the night in a college town," but what does he know?
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:23 PM on May 5, 2016

No one has this one.
posted by fixedgear at 3:40 PM on May 5, 2016

How long does Clostridium botulinum keep?
posted by sneebler at 4:22 PM on May 8, 2016

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