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The U.S. Military's Super Sandwich

August 6, 2021 - 08:14 -- Admin


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From Mental Floss:

The U.S. military has a fraught history with food. During the Civil War, soldiers munched on tooth-cracking hardtack and salt pork. By World War II, it was SPAM and M&Ms. During the Cold War, the military introduced the world to survival crackers, a.k.a. Doomsday Biscuits.

But there’s always been one problem with most of the items on the menu: Few tasted very good. Hardtack regularly contained worms. Soldiers liked to call SPAM “ham that failed the physical.” The Chicago Tribune once claimed that survival crackers were “better as weapons.”

The challenge facing battlefield rations—called “Meal, Ready-to-Eat,” or MREs—has always been multifaceted. The Seattle Times explains it nicely: "To qualify for MRE duty, a food item has to be able to survive years of storage in a dank ship’s hold or a sun-baked shipping container, withstand Arctic freezes and tropical monsoons, stave off assaults by insects, and remain intact through a parachute airdrop or a free fall from 100 feet.” Taste, as a result, has been woefully neglected.

I used to share a house with a guy who had access to Australian Army rations and we basically lived off the things for about six months back in the late 1980s. As a poor student I don’t recall them being all that bad. Not for free.

There were a bunch of rice-and-mystery-curry boxes that there no more inedible than a three-dollar Woolies home-brand vindaloo. The shortbread could be softened by dunking it onto a cup of coffee, or rum, for a while. And I recall the ‘emergency chocolate’ quite fondly.

This also reminds me that at the start of the pando you could buy unused airline meals for a buck or two each. I know a few people who loaded up on them and if I’d been giving by myself, honestly, I might have too.

(And yes, I am totes doing some basic link-blogging, just to get myself used to being at my keyboard again.