Ol' ChiliMac

Reviews and taste-tests of any MREs from 1981-present
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Ol' ChiliMac

Post by rattattoo » Tue Apr 01, 2014 4:18 pm

Sopaco Meal #21 Chili and Macaroni
I was surprised when I searched the MRE reviews here on the forum, and discovered that there was no review for that age-old favorite [of mine at least] Chili and Mac.
I've been meaning to put up a couple of reviews and hadn't gotten around to it. The opportunity to win a mess tray in the forum contest kicked me into gear. I had a Chili and Mac ration that I had already rat-packed up for use this summer. Being one of my favorites I knew it would make it into the bag for some hike or another.
Sopaco Meal #21 Chili and Macaroni
This one was dated 2007, came from Sopaco, and as you can see from the photo, the actual ration portions were packed in the second half of 2006.

The listing on the site here said that the package should have contained:
Chili & Macaroni
Wet Fruit Pack
Jalepeno Cheese Spread
Wheat Snack Bread
Candy III
Sugar Free Beverage
Red Pepper
Accessory Packet C
Flameless Heater
I had pulled the wheat snack bread, the spoon, and the beverage when I did the repack. I like my coffee, so I had tossed in a couple of tubes of Tasters Choice instead of the anemic Kool-Aid. Anyway, Accessory Packet C also contains the apple cider mix, which I consider to be pretty good. It's always nice to save for bedtime.
As far as the other stuff goes, I always tote along a spork, and I always carry a separate package of snacks, so, I guess the bread got dropped as a redundancy. I couldn't find a bread dated 2006 to substitute. The candies were tropical flavored Skittles. I know they went into one of the separate snack packages and I remember that they showed no sign of age at all. Everything else was what you would find in a sealed ration bag.

One of the reasons I have always liked the Chili and Mac ration is that it's good either hot or cold. For the purposes of this review I decided to see what it was like if it was simply sun heated.
One of the other things I always have along in the pack is a big black garbage bag, so, I rolled the Chili and Mac and the fruit pack up in the bag and put it in the sun for 30 minutes.
Before I brought them in for the taste test, I checked the temperature with a meat thermometer. It registered right at 125°F. Not too bad for an early spring day in Maine.

In the field, I would have eaten this straight from the pouch. I have taken to putting a new nick in the long end of the ration pack main meals so that I can open them lengthwise. This seems to be a lot more convenient than spoon-fishing down the narrow width of the pouch.
Today, for the photo opportunities, you get a plate.

On to the food:
For only having been heated with the sun, it was surprisingly well done. The sauce had liquified and everything was nicely heated throughout.
It tasted pretty much like I remember from other Chili and Mac rations that dated to the late 1900s.
Despite being eight years old, there was no sign of the deterioration, either in the consistency or the flavor. Just a quick stirring and it was good to go. The meat nuggets are about the size of garbanzo beans and are pretty plentiful. They are much the same as the sausage pellets that some cheapo pizza joints use these days. You won’t mistake them for hamburger, but they certainly are meat flavored and they have a “meaty” texture. The macaroni were perfectly fine, were not too mushy and the balance between the solids and the sauce was very good.
It was pretty much the same as you would expect to find in canned, supermarket chili mac.
I found it a bit bland, so I used some of the jalapeno cheese spread that had also warmed out in the sun. We all know what it's like.
This particular package of "whizz" did show some small deterioration. As the picture shows, it had become slightly granulated as opposed to smooth. The flavor was perfectly normal. Stirred into the food you would never have noticed the texture. Together with a couple of glurgs of Tapatio™, it made the Chili and Mac ration perfectly acceptable. [I am just no kind of fan of the plain, powdered Red pepper]

With the pears I kind of cheated. Pears are not my favorite kind of fruit unless they're ripe off the tree. On opening this fruit ration I was unimpressed. OK, but nothing special. However, I had a loose, Spice Poundcake pack, also dated 2006. With the sun warmed pears poured over the top, and the juice having soaked in, it made for a nice dessert.
Not having had this fruit portion previously, I don't know if the color had started to darken. The taste was fine, just like a canned product, but the fruit was noticeably darker than what I would've expected from the canned version. It came out sweet, but not too sweet, with the spicing in the poundcake adding what otherwise would've been missing. I certainly would've preferred the "spiced apple slices”.

I guess I could've used the molasses cookie together with the pears, but it had gotten set aside during the photography process and I didn't see it in time. Whatever, the molasses cookie was great on it’s own. Still moist, and it had not crumbled at all.
Like all molasses cookies, it would be better if it was dipped in Scotch. I think that we definitely need to bring back the "rum ration”.

All in all, the Sopaco Meal #21 Chili and Macaroni from 2007 was a winner. Nothing had gone bad and nothing was something you wouldn't eat. The quantity of food was quite sufficient. I could have quite willingly eaten just the Chili Mac and saved the pears and cookie for a snack later on in the day.
It was good enough that my only real regret now is that this was the only Meal #21 that I had. According to my list, I do have a single, loose Chili and Mac pouch. I guess I will unite it with some other loose stuff and put that rat pack back together. Summer is coming. And this is a meal that I know I would enjoy again.
What I will probably add to that home-repack is a package of Cheeze Nabs. Crushed up, I think they would've added a nice crunch, and would've helped soak up some of the sauce.

Hope you enjoyed the review. And I certainly hope that the mess tray contest [viewtopic.php?f=7&t=5350] will kick up some other reviews from the rest of you. I'll look forward to seeing them. Thanks for reading.

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Re: Ol' ChiliMac

Post by Name_not_found » Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:40 pm

Good Work, nice pictures, details descriptions andI think this is the first example of solar cooking in a review, nice change of pace

I enjoy the chili mac, gotta add the cheese. (did u knead it before opening?)

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Re: Ol' ChiliMac

Post by rattattoo » Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:12 am

Oh, yeah. Before and after heating... didn't quite make the grade, on the bread it might not have been so good, but no ill effects a day later.
I'll see what I have down cellar and try to get another review post up sometime soon.
...Mostly '06-'09 fulls, #'13-24 and a bunch of loose meals

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Re: Ol' ChiliMac

Post by mreheater72 » Thu Apr 03, 2014 2:13 pm

rattattoo, thank you for the nice an detailed review :D . The CHILI MAC is in my opinion one of the best MRE entrees (it is issued since 1995 the first year still in dark brown MREs :!: ). The idea heating a MRE entree in the sun is really good :) . I guess if you have a real hot summer day you can obtain the same result as with an FRH or even better :!: .


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Re: Ol' ChiliMac

Post by dirtbag » Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:54 am

On the dashboard works well!
Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO

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Re: Ol' ChiliMac

Post by rattattoo » Fri Apr 04, 2014 7:08 am

dirtbag wrote:On the dashboard works well!
Yeah. My first MRE main meals back in 2001 cost $.99 at the local Fell-Off-a-Truck-Stop... $.69 for side dishes.
The first time we ate them was after a hike in Mesa Verde National Park out in Colorado. They spent two or three hours on the dashboard, and when we got back we had a nice hot meal.
I'm pretty sure they were the Beef and Mushroom entree from Wornick. With a side of rice, it was great alternative to the NPS $4 hot dogs in the visitor center.

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