Friday, October 9, 2015

Meal, Ready-to-Eat: A Review

For those of you who (somehow) don’t know, MREs = Meal, Ready-to-Eat. It’s a type of light field ration usually given to soldiers in active combat.

Having an older brother in the Marine Corps when I was a kid, we actually got quite a few of these MRE packages. Me and my sister would actually eat them for the hell of it, because some of them aren’t as bad as some images may imply. I’ll even admit that some do look like the personification of turds, but I’m someone who can put my visual bias aside and try a thing at least one time before I cast judgment.

You only live once, right?

A few months ago, my brother-in-law (who, like both of my siblings, are in the military) saw me looking at one of the MRE packages on the guest bedroom bed, and asked if I wanted to have it. With the caveat from my sister not to eat it all at once (like we did when we were dumb kids), because one package is supposed to sustain a solider for an entire day. Oops.

Either way, I was like, “Sure, why not?” It’s been a while, and writing a lot about military characters, I figured it might be good to refresh my memory.

Incidentally, a friend — I can’t remember who — asked me to document my experience and tell them about it. Since I can’t remember who, I took a bunch of pictures and decided to make a public post about it.

So here we go.

This post is full of spiders images!

This is the whole shebang once I unpacked the bag. I specifically had the pork sausage patty, which sounds vaguely appetizing. 

The beverages! At first I thought that maybe the gum was there to help drown out the taste of nastiness, but then I realized that gum is a good hunger deterrent. 

More air-tight sealed packaged deliciousness. 

The condiments or... something. Honestly, I have no idea what part of this meal I was supposed to use these for.
Okay, this is the fun part...

When I first saw this, I was like, “What is this sorcery?” 

This bag is a heater?

An actual heater?

Did MREs always have this? I don’t remember this when I was a kid. I probably didn’t even use it back then since we had magical things called microwaves, but I decided to give it a shot.

I mostly wanted to capture this because of the step-by-step instructions and the ever-so-eloquent “rock or something” on step 6.

Fun fact: The term “rock or something” has become a popular military/MRE in-joke.

So I did end up putting water into the heated bag, and then...

Magic happened.

Steam started to come OUT OF THE BAG and boiled from the bottom. There’s a pad inside that I guess reacts to water, making it into a handy furnace for those rough times you’re being shot at and crave a pork patty.

Time to start my day with some instant coffee. Of course, I only used the sugar, creamer, and instant stuff, and I only poured the instant coffee with the water in the beverage bag. Then I put that bag into the heat bag, let it sit for about five minutes while the miracle happened...

Wunderbar, der Kaffee! 

I poured the creamer and sugar in and was expecting my mouth to feel like I was gargling battery acid. I even had some Irish breakfast tea ready in case this ended up turning my stomach.

Shock of all shocks, though? It didn’t. That tiny little package was actually decent coffee. Or maybe my taste buds just have low standards. Both are equally likely, I guess.

Also, I am really digging that fancy little swirl there.

Ah yes, what we’ve all been waiting for.

The More You Know.

Like the coffee, I opened up the box and put the little package inside the heat bag, and let it sit for about ten minutes or so. By the time I opened it, it was nice and warm.

O-oh, wow. Um. Wow.

That sure does look like... something.

I thought, “Maybe I could use some crackers with this...”

“Crackers are good. You can’t fuck up crackers.”

Amazingly, it... wasn’t that bad. Actually, the patty was great, and the crackers were decent. All in all, I was surprisingly full for the next five hours. It’s a filling meal.

Much later I decided to give the muffin top a shot.

“Ooooohhhhh, I get it!”

“It’s a muffin TOP, as in... the top... of a muffin... hahahahaha.” 

Spoilers: It was yum.

The trail mix is pretty much everything you’d expect them to be. Between those and the muffin top I was, once again, rather full.

I still have no idea what I was supposed to use the cheese spread and table syrup for... Everything tasted fine on its own. I’m not a big fan of chewing gum (it hurts my jaw) and I hear towelettes and matches aren’t all that appetizing for some reason.

I think I want to save the orange beverage thing for a later time, as I’m perfectly content with drinking my buttload of tea during my day. I’m not sure what I was supposed to use the salt for, either.

As you can tell, those are the things I didn’t end up using.

So that’s my experience. The verdict?

Not bad! It’s almost 7:30pm and I’m still relatively full on what little I got from this package, which seems to be what they’re going for. Granted, I’m not running in the field carrying a hundred pounds on my back, but I can see how someone can be somewhat sustained on these packages. I give it an A.

On that note, I do have a lot of respect for soldiers and appreciate what they do. The military gene might’ve skipped me, but that’s why I write about it instead, so this was a fun experiment.

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