By: By Team VANCE
06 June 2005

As survivalists, we're always testing new ideas and acquiring new things for our emergency supplies. So when TEAM VANCE recently had a chance to sample the MayDay emergency food ration, we approached it with the usual skepticism, borne of years of disappointment, but with that little glimmer of hope that at least some of us allow ourselves.

We had been promised that this item was apple cinnamon flavored, so we had at least that wee bit of hope to sustain us through this process.

The MayDay emergency food ration comes in a foil pouch. The pouch sports a big 3600 on the front, apparently representing the 3600 calories of MayDay stuff inside. The pouch says the contents weigh 27 ounces. One serving is considered 3 ounces. That serving gives you things like 400 calories, 7 grams of protein, 17 grams of fat, and 55 grams of carbs. It also gives you a few vitamins and a couple of minerals, but not nearly as many as we would have expected. Essentially, you’ll get some vitamin A, B6, B12, E, riboflavin, a chunk of copper, and a touch of iron. So for anything else, you’re on your own.

We tried not to let the yellow and black colors of the pouch deter us. Similarly, we tried not to let the company’s name, “Mayday Industries,” bother us. Maybe it wasn’t hazmat material but it sure was labeled like it was. We did find the “U.S. Coast Guard Approved” part of the label comforting. Had it been on the front, we might have found it more comforting, but we at least gave them points for putting it there at all.

By the time many of the team encountered this stuff, it had already been opened by an unnamed VANCE member. Clearly, opening the thing was not intuitive. A knife had figured prominently in the foil pouch’s demise, and resealing the thing was not likely. Well, how long are you going to stretch 3600 calories anyway? And don’t we all have Ziploc bags around? No biggie. We can deal with setbacks like this--we all stock plenty of ziploc bags in our supplies anyway. Still, some of us were thinking the least they could have done was design the thing with a resealable flap. Picky picky picky. Little did we realize that there was a reason for this.

In turn, we each pushed back the flap of the torn part to look upon the Mayday bar. There it lay. A brownish beige . . . thing. It was a block of thing, actually. A block of pressed thing.

Again, in turn, we each broke off a piece of the thing. It turns out, it was a block of crumbly pressed thing. Some of us inelegantly sniffed it. Don’t you hate it when people do that? But this was for the sake of science. So we sacrificed ourselves at the olfactory alter and sniffed it. It didn’t stink too badly. Then again, it didn’t stink too well either.

We crumbled a bit of the thing in our hands. Yep, it most definitely crumbled. Each of us dutifully popped a very small piece into our respective mouths. And then we waited, each looking at the others in the group in hopes that someone else would speak first. Of course, the fact that our mouths were virtually glued shut didn’t help in the information-sharing endeavor. But eventually, we rallied.

In a group of people, it's rare for the entire group to experience a uniform collective response. This was one of those rare occasions. Essentially, the consensus was that the crumbly pressed thing was akin to flavored cardboard. It wasn’t entirely bad, but then, it wasn't good. And we certainly wouldn’t want to have to rely on the stuff for more than a calorie boost in a very short-term emergency situation.

The fact is, anyone who thinks these bars are going to take them through even a few days is dreaming. The stuff will keep you alive for a little while. But there’s no way one should even think of subsisting on the stuff for more than a day or two. It’s the type of product you put in your BOB…along with edible foods you like. If you’ve planned your long-term rations around this stuff, may we humbly suggest you REVISE YOUR PLAN!!! SOON!

In all seriousness, there is a place for such rations in your preparations--but not on a wholesale level. Limit stocking this in BOBs and other places where you have very limited space and may need something to get you through a single day or so in a dire emergency.

Well, after congratulating each other on another example of facta non verba scientific inquiry, we shared some of our views on the Mayday Bar whilst sitting around the campfire. It was there, in the warm reflection of the campfire and friendship, that VANCE came up with a few ideas for alternative uses for those of you who have stocked a lot of this stuff. Here are a few of our ideas.

1. Kitty Litter. The stuff won’t clump very effectively once you’ve unclumped (crumbled) it, but it’ll do in a pinch…if your cat doesn’t hate the smell of it.

2. Driveway Crack Filler. The stuff packs pretty well. Try it. It could help you out in a pinch.

3. Glass Polisher. The stuff is abrasive but fairly fine. So try polishing glass.

4. Facial. The stuff is abrasive and is pretty much like the stuff some use to scrub their faces. Yep. It works.

5. Surprise treat for someone you want to harass. We approached a subject, but he was too quick for us. So we truthfully can’t opine as to whether this would work or not.

6. Counter scrubber. The stuff is still abrasive. Try cleaning with it.

7. Toothpaste. It actually makes a decent toothpaste for short-term desperate times...sort of.

8. Oil absorption. Just lay a layer of this over an oil spill and watch it go to work!

9. Food Fight. It’s crumbly, so when it hits, it doesn’t hurt too badly.

10. Packing. It will help line boxes for transporting fragiles.

11. Targets. These are good-sized blocks…maybe ½ to ¾ inch thick and about 6” x 6.” Just set it up on a post and blammo ammo. One well placed shot should pretty well bust it up, though, so this is a good way to rid yourself of lots of these in a short period of time.

12. Window covers. In a real emergency, if you had enough of these, you could cover your windows with them. Though we wouldn’t suggest that these offer any true protection against, say, radiation, they'll work for blacking out light.

13. Loading your ruck pack. If you work out by running or hiking with a heavy pack, just load these up in the pack. They’ll add weight, you can always nibble off one along the way, and because you’ll be desperate to get back to real food, you’ll probably do the run/hike in record time.

14. Ear Plugs. In a pinch, use a pinch in your ears. It’ll wash out . . . mostly.

15. Eye Covers. If you can’t sleep, just slap a couple of chunks over your eyes. It doesn’t seem to offer the therapeutic value of the cucumber, but we all have to learn to adjust at times.

16. Fetch. Do you think your dog will get bored in a real emergency? Save a few of these to heave out there for him to chase.

17. Stopping the annoying cat. Does your cat do things you need to stop instantly? Just hurl one of these in his direction. Instant flying cat.

18. Pet beds on trips. Line the bottoms of their crates with this stuff. It absorbs all sorts of sins.

19. Concerts. Take it to concerts to throw at rude people…or on stage, whichever you prefer.

20. Trail Marking. Unlike Hansel’s and Gretel’s bread trail, which was edible, this stuff will resist the most stalwart birds out there. Lay that trail and count on it being there when you return.

21. Biting Dog? Just shove one of these into his face when he tries to chomp down. It’ll stop that sucker in his tracks and show him you truly mean business.

22. Killing your enemy’s auto. OK. We’ve all heard about sugar in the gas tank. Although we did NOT test this, we believe no self-respecting tank can withstand this stuff.

23. Company Deterrent. Serve this to company. They’ll leave, and likely won’t come back.

24. Mulch. This is excellent mulch. Nuff said.

25. Yes, you can run a clock on it.

26. Cushion. You can sit on it. It’s not the most comfortable seat, but it beats a lot of the things that are in second place.

27. Knee pads. Are you in the Rubicon SAR? Do you skateboard or rollerblade or ride a bike? This is the knee pad for you!

28. Helmet liner. Same as 27. Just line your bike or skateboarding or SAR helmet with this. It’s excellent, albeit a bit hot after awhile. Hey, it’s the price you pay for safety.

29. Candle holder. You can stick a candle in it. Or you can fill the bottom of a bottle with the stuff for stability then stick a candle on top.

30. Fire retardant. Just stick this in front of the wood stove for added protection against sparks.

31. Weather stripping. You can fill a lot of cracks with this stuff.

32. Hand scrubber. You can use this to scrub some of the dirtiest things off your hands.

33. Shoe filler. Shoes too big? Just wedge a chunk of this stuff in the toe and you're good to go.

34. Subtle hints not working with the family? Serve this when they stay too long. They'll leave.

35. Plug. You can plug just about anything with this. So if you have someone really annoying who, say, ate too many beans last night, go for it….but remember, you have to catch him first. This was another case where we approached the subject, but he was way too quick for us.

Well, these are just a few suggestions. Your imagination can take you where mere normal mortals dare not go. By the way, we realized finally why there was no resealable flap – what was the point of resealing it? No one was going to be going back for seconds!

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