How did you discover MREs?

Discussions about US MREs and other US rations
Posts: 129
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:49 pm
Location: USA, northern MidWest


Post by TurtleNomad » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:48 pm

DIRTYDAVE wrote:Man, this thread needs to go into the Hall of Fame, lots o replies!

It also makes a fantastic place for newbies (long-time lurkers or fresh blood) to introduce themselves!
I learnt far more about each of you than if you'd written a "mundane" intro. :)

My first military ration experiences were as a teen in JROTC in the late '70s thru early '80s. It was a mixture of dreadful boxed lunches, and "proper" canned rations which were fascinating to most of us.

My first mylar MRE was in the early 80s, while in the adult Air Reserves (nothing high speed, just puddle-jumper SAR, cross-trained for light reconnaissance - roughly the equivalent of the Danny Glover role in "Bat*21", except we never deployed overseas (except for training) in the time I was in). My unit was on some sort of big (to me!) joint exercise, and at one point we were swapping rides with a really cool Huey squadron. I was mesmerized (my first rotary wing ride), and stayed behind, talking to the crew, asking tons of questions and obviously really enthusiastic (in retrospect, I may have been the only one who didn't rush away, looking rather ill/airsick).

As I was about to leave, one of the crew suddenly opened a container, pulled out a smallish cardboard box, handed it to me, and said something about it being a new issue item I might get a kick out of. I only had a second to glance at it and thank him, then had to catch up with my group.

That evening, I opened it, and was in a state of complete wonder.
This was a work of engineering!
It was a breakfast meal, and had one can and one brown mylar pouch (one was meat, one eggs - I can still vividly "see" the box and main two content items in my mind, but can no longer "read" the containers - argh! age!). I forget what else was in it, but will always remember the sense of awe at how high tech it felt, compared to canned style rations.

I don't know what ration that was (was probably a semi-obscure one), and was never issued any other "modern" MRE (the local base issued us homebrew boxed lunches, or we'd arrange something ourselves - yeah, that was during the cheap years, when the mall majority tried to pretend the military didn't exist).

I have also had old style Canadian rat packs, from swaps on NATO exercises in the early 80s. The cheese and crackers were awesome!

Fast forward to 2007... I'm an UberGeek, and regularly read SF writer Orson Scott Card's equivalent-of-a-blog, and was pleasantly surprised to read a review of an MRE taste testing he hosted. Until then, I had not realized that MRE components could be legally purchased by civilians (hadn't even realized prior service could buy on a base). The main weakness in my car emergency gear was food (I had lots of snacks but no "proper" meals), so I mentally noted that I should investigate MREs, next overhaul.

The next Spring, I started what turned into a major overhaul of all my car emergency gear, which, of course!, included major research into MREs that also led to several new-ish civilian shelf stable foods that I hadn't been aware of.
That's when I stumbled across this superb site!

My favorite thread of all time is Kman's week-of-eating-MREs .
My favorite recent thread was the FSR hack-a-thon. When you start with a "I wish somebody would do this", and turn it into a "we will figure this out", and actually do it, you are hacking... and that is a good thing! :)

My main interests, MRE-wise are:
  • practical, emergency preparedness
    (car only, though after the "James Kim" incident I decided to aim for at least two weeks of food (I've lived in somewhat remote areas), plus I am a roving contract software engineer (hence the "Nomad" part of my handle), so having "real" meals in my car gives me more flexibility, is a stress reducer, and time saver (usually, I have far more food in my car than most city folk have in their home))
  • sheer Geeky wonder at the construction of these complete packets of tastee-ness!
  • nostalgia, combined with sympathetic curiosity of how our younger brothers & sisters are eating in the field
Last fall, I decided to do my very first MRE rotation (after two full summers and winters stored in my car), and bought two boxes of 2009 production from ArmyGear (which I found out about here!). Early this year, they got a batch of 2010s, and I impulse bought two more boxes, then realized I had way too many (I'm on the road, living out of hotels/etc), so I non-grudgingly set to slowly eating all the 2009s. :) Before starting one, I always research it here, to get any tips, and usually find many - thanks a ton all you reviewers!

I'm not quite finished my 2009s, and recently bought a box of items from TheEpicenter, so I'm still in significant MRE "Quality Control Mode". ;)
I'll be posting some MRE reviews, plus some civilian shelf stable stuff (both food and alternate cooking devices), to give back to this wonderful treasure trove of information!
- Kate
The important thing is the spices.
A man can live on packaged food from here til Judgement Day if he's got enough Marjoram.
- Shephard Book, "Serenity" (the pilot), Firefly

Posts: 186
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:14 pm
Location: Ardmore, PA

Re: How did you discover MREs?

Post by hannonmc » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:24 pm

TurtleNomad, loved how your phrased it, FSR Hack-a-thon! I highly suggest you contact Treesuit for one of the rations. Well worth it after the research we put into it.

Let's see, my first experience with MREs came in the early 90s. An outdoors/gun show was at the local armory and I saw someone selling cases of them. I've always enjoyed military issue items and thought that this would be pretty cool... I've heard of them, but never experienced them. So, I bought a case and a pack of heaters.

I would take these camping and nothing else but water. They certainly filled me up. Loved the ham slice, omellete and ham, scalloped potatoes and ham (notice a trend). I even enjoyed the hotdogs. Those dense chocolate brownies or chocolate cookie bars were great. All of the entrees with tomato type sauces all tasted the same...

Over the years I've bought the civilian ones, but never liked them as much. Found this excellent site and started trying rations from other countries (currently love RCIRs). I've been buying cases of MREs at gun shows again and just scored a 2010 case.

The newer meals are definitely more varied and tastes better, but I miss some of the entrees and deserts from those earlier years...

User avatar
Posts: 782
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:28 pm
eBay name: ruleryak
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: How did you discover MREs?

Post by Ruleryak » Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:41 am

My first MRE was on a backpacking trip with my Boy Scout troop back in probably 93 or so. It was a mid 80's one and honestly I can't recall which one it was. I remember it had a freeze dried fruit and one of those oatmeal bar blocks that were damn near impossible to eat and I've loved the things ever since. I try not to eat them too often, especially now with the rising costs, but I end up eating one now and then anyway. The other day I thought I was grabbing a more recent one and ended up eating most of a 1995 tuna/noodles. The tuna had gotten weird, but the rest of the meal was still damn fine :mrgreen:

User avatar
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:03 am
Location: north eastern pennsylvania

Re: How did you discover MREs?

Post by Morwin » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:24 pm

Greetings all,

This seemed like a good place to start. I found my first MRE when i was about 11 years old, wandering around out local army surplus store. i purchased one with my allowance and took it with me the next time i trekked off into the woods for the day. this was 1990 or 91, and if i remember correctly it was a chili and macaroni entree. and from there i was hooked, i have had a few cases in my closet ever since. Got my first MCW from that same store a year or two later. currently i have about 9 cases of 2008 both menu A and B MRE's and am looking for a good source for some 2011 MRE's. i must say that coming across this site made me one very happy MRE fan. many thanks for the site and the work that went into all the information here.


User avatar
Posts: 5458
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 7:04 am
Location: Germany, Bavaria

Re: How did you discover MREs?

Post by housil » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:38 pm

Hello Morwin,

thx for your posting and introducing. Welcome to forums and enjoy your stay.

Posts: 99
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:25 pm
eBay name: LUIS0449
Location: Burgos, the coldest city in Spain

Re: How did you discover MREs?

Post by luis0449 » Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:35 pm

Working eight hours a day sitting in front of a computer and saying "yes boss, you are right, yes boss, you are right, yes boss, you are right..." you can easily imagine I like going out camping, hunting, or doing whatever has anything to do with the fields. Some years ago I decided to buy some rations (I knew how the spanish rations worked from my time in the army) as I was gonna do some tabbing in central spain. I bought some spanish and (I still don`t know how) some MREs... It comes without saying that MREs are much better. I won`t say I don`t like spanish rations, but MREs are somehow different.

Here in Spain, army officers always boast how good our rations are, and how other armies sell their mothers to get their hands in an spanish ration but it is just to keep the morale of the troops high.

The funny thing is that among my friends I am the "USA MREs supplier". Everytime there is an game, a hunting day, hiking or whatever there is always the question: "Luis, you`ll be able to get us some MREs, won`t you?"

All the best, people.

Rations Reviewed: USA, spanish, french, UK, german, denmark
Rations I am interested: WWII, Vietnam era, Russia, Israel, Italy, South America Countries

Posts: 186
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:14 pm
Location: Ardmore, PA

Re: How did you discover MREs?

Post by hannonmc » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:06 am


That's an interesting perspective on comparing MREs with the Spanish ration. Have you ever had a French RCIR? If so, where would you rank that in the mix?



Posts: 99
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:25 pm
eBay name: LUIS0449
Location: Burgos, the coldest city in Spain

Re: How did you discover MREs?

Post by luis0449 » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:24 pm

Well, I`ve never tried any french RCIR altough I`ve heard they are the best and with a huge difference (my sister is always asking me for french RCIR, as if it was so easy...).

Different MREs just show how armies sometimes are different. USA MREs are more into being happy and enjoying the food. Spanish ones are more into being "combat operative" with the different pills, like the one with C Vitamine, the purification tables and so on. Spanish rations have five meals and five diners and USA MREs have 24!!!!. I find it difficult to say some are better than others, they are just different (which women do you prefer: brunettes or blondes? It`s just the same, hahahha).

When USA armies are deployed they build a swimming pool, a cinema and a library so as their soldiers can borrow books. Spanish... well let`s say a TV is more than enough. It`s just that some things can be found important for some people and for some others they just can`t be so important.

What I am sure is that in any spanish forum about MREs everybody states how soldiers in Lebanon, Bosnia or when we were In Irak traded the spanish rations for a lot of stuff and how everybody were desperate to get their hands on spanish rations. I understand you may be bored of eating the same stuff day after day and you may trade your rations with other armies rations just to eat something different, but some people boast how our rations are good and tasty (they are, indeed) and the other are just cr*p. Well not. I don`t agree, spanish rations taste good, yeah, but american MREs taste good too... :-) Sometimes it`s just that officers say so to boast the morale of their troops (every soldier hears how good they are and how bad are the others) but sometimes they just exagerate.

All the best, people
Rations Reviewed: USA, spanish, french, UK, german, denmark
Rations I am interested: WWII, Vietnam era, Russia, Israel, Italy, South America Countries

Posts: 851
Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2009 7:56 pm
eBay name: tedtielemans
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands

Re: How did you discover MREs?

Post by Cracker » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:42 pm

Haha, can't you trade some spanish ones for a case of MREs? :mrgreen:
Sure, someone may one day kill me with my own gun.
But they'll have to beat me to death with it because it's empty.

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.

Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:54 am

Re: How did you discover MREs?

Post by rebraunjr » Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:34 pm

Grew up in a military town. Home of the 24thID, now home of the 3rd ID.

Post Reply