*An MRE Taste Test*
06 August 2012
As an active-duty airman and as a military reservist I acquired lots of MRE's over a 20-plus year period. I wasn't always able to maintain good inventory and separation of the different batches of MRE's I acquired. I recently tested one I dug up out of the bottom of an undated box. Research showed it to be from 1985, a 27-year-old time capsule of gastronomic wonders.
The Menu: #5 Beef Stew with Accessory Packet A. Please note that these older MRE's had smaller portions. They were truly meals, not 2-per-day ration packs.
Cocoa Beverage Powder
Cherry Nut Cake (bonus)
Storage Conditions: From production until I got it: unknown. From circa 1986 to 1995 it made 3 moves, including one from the tropical Pacific to South Texas. It lived in garages in Texas and Tennessee from 1987 until 1995. Since 1995, it's lived in a basement in East Tennessee. That's not the best resume' for food storage. Carports are horrid storage places for food. But it survived.
Beef Stew: excellent; potatoes still had shape and taste; beef was in good shape (for MRE beef)
Crackers: dry, bland, and hard, but then they come from the factory that way; still taste like acceptable MRE crackers
Peanut Butter: surprisingly good; not up to vintage 2012 Skippy standards, but it didn't start out that way either; actually tastes about like I remember 'fresh' MRE PB from over the years
Cocoa: OK, something had to be bad; little chocolate flavor or aroma; taste not something that would make you spit it out, but bland understates it severely, it tasted like stale blandness
Cherry Nut Cake: good, but it suffered the most; still tasted of cherries, but had a hint of a 'raisiny' taste; even at that it beat the &*^$^%&^%** outta the pound cake trash that's in current MRE's
Strawberries: as good as mid-grade frozen strawberries from some place like WalMart; I am not kidding! They were better than some frozen strawberries I've eaten in school cafeterias and chow halls
Conclusion: Quite edible. Nothing was apparently dangerous, nor was anything inedible (nor even unpalatable, except the hot cocoa). The hot cocoa still had protein and sugar and would have warmed you nicely from the inside. It just tasted stale. The rest was good chow. Had I eaten it during any phase of an extended deployment or field exercise I would have been satisfied, and surprised to learn it was 27 years old!
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