Menu 9 Chicken Ala King date?

Reviews and taste-tests of any MREs from 1981-present
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Menu 9 Chicken Ala King date?

Post by Norton » Sun Jan 17, 2016 11:56 am

I decided to open and test a MRE still in the case that has been stored since the 1980's .
The chicken A La King had code 6084C. Is that 1986 or 1984?
Can this meal's date be verified by the experts on date codes? :?: :?:

I decided not to heat the main entree, but I did make the coffee and cocoa powder.
I remember this meal as not being popular and sometimes referred to as 'The Cat Food'. One of the reasons I personally did not like it, was not a taste issue.
Rather this had a messy main entree. The chicken juice got on your hands and the fruit cake was sticky.

So down the garage I went, got out G.I. mess kit and canteen cup with stove.
IMG_0564 (640x480).jpg
Brown bag and gear
Here we go, all components were totally dry and intact. No wet spots or stains. Not as many parts and pieces as modern MRE
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laid out
The chicken A La King bag was clean and solid. No tears or rips
IMG_0567 (640x480).jpg
Chicken A la King bag
when I opened it up it smelled like a Made in USA Banquet brand chicken pot pie, but cold.
No funny smell, just a strong smell of processed chicken stock. Like opening a can of Campbell's Creme of Chicken soup
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IMG_0572 (640x480).jpg
main course
The Cheese packet was next, it smelled like smoked cheese. I rally sniffed and there was slightly unpleasant smell. But it did not seem as if it had gone rancid
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Fruit cake was next and the bag was totally intact. No tears or rips, no stains. All dry and clean.
The smell was just like a new fruit cake with plenty of Cinnamon
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fruit cake
The crackers were unbroken and the bag was tight. No funny smell. The seemed like Nabisco saltines right out of the box. But they did not snap when broken in half.
They crumbled very easy.
The other remaining components such as coffee and creamer were opened
Coffee Type I smelled like Maxwell House Instant from a old jar. Slightly nutty, but mainly the normal Instant coffee smell you have in a glass jar that has been opened for at least a year. Creamer smelled normal and did not leave an oily film on the top of the water when I poured it in the Canteen cup.
The cocoa powder smelled like the original Army cocoa. But with the slight smell of chemicals.. Just slightly off.
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coffee with cream, sugar and cocoa
Now for the taste review.
The Chicken A La King tasted much like commercial frozen pot pie filling. Salty with mushy peas and a paste like texture. Much like Campbell Cream of Chicken soup right out of the can before you mix the water. I think the salt content was very high. I ate only one bite, but it seemed edible to me. I did not want to push my luck.
On a simple taste bud, and nose detector test. Just a guess I would say you could have eaten this and not thrown up. But what do I know?

The fruit cake tasted just about the same. I did not taste anything not normal. The nuts were tasteless and the only thing you really picked up was cinnamon and sugar.
Fruit cakes were made for ultra long storage in the civilian world. I would guess the packing and processing methods in the mid 1980's were good. So it survived.
If it were not for the candied nuts fruit it would be OK for breakfast if you had the coffee and cocoa mixed together

The cheese was horrible, I took a tiny bite and right away, I knew it was rancid. Horrible horrible taste. I had to wash my mouth out with beer. Eev thinking about it as I type. I can now smell it again. You cannot eat processed Cheese from the mid 1980's
The crackers were very bland and were less salty than I thought they would taste. The snap was gone and they had a crumbly texture. But still totally edible. No funny taste at all.

The coffee tasted weak before I added the cocoa. With the Cocoa it tasted better but had a metallic taste. I took two sips and then a drink. No problem. It did not seem to have a real off flavor.

The gum was nearly impossible to chew. It was truly hard as a rock. But I persisted and finally was able break one down and chew it. It tasted like chemicals and a slight bit of spearmint. Like Wrigley's gum that was very old.

Packed by Southern Packaging Co Mullins SC

Chicken Ala King TS 5 oz
Packed by Del Monte Frozen food San Francisco CA (code 6084C)
Fruit Cake
Packed by Southern Packaging Co Mullins SC (code 619615D4L1)
Cheese spread
unknown maker and no code
Southern Packaging Co
Stellar Foods Chicago IL (code 6163N)
Acc Pkt A
Coffee Type I
General Foods White Plains NY
Amstar inc New York, New York
Creamer and gum and salt unmarked

All in all it held up well. It did not run you out of the room when opened, Only the cheese seemed to be really rancid
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laid out meal
Last edited by Norton on Tue Jan 19, 2016 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Menu 9 Chicken Ala King date?

Post by rattattoo » Sun Jan 17, 2016 12:10 pm

I am not giggly wild about any of the MRE meals when eaten cold. Even the best of them drop to the level of subsistence chow.
The worst of them go someplace south of library paste.

However, it certainly nice to know that even meals that old would still be edible.

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Re: Menu 9 Chicken Ala King date?

Post by cavguy » Sun Jan 17, 2016 12:38 pm

The date on the Chicken Ala King is, the 84th day of 1986. I loved the later 1990's C-A-K, it was one of my favorites! I especially covet these nut cakes, you got lucky and got a good one, so far I have struck out since around 2000 all the ones I have eaten were bad...

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Re: Menu 9 Chicken Ala King date?

Post by steve1989 » Mon Jan 18, 2016 12:20 am

Very bold, descriptive, and entertaining review with great pictures, Norton!

I love reviews of the oldies - and trying to eat a Chicken Ala King was a chancy move back in the 80's-early 90's, but nowadays that Chicken Ala King is now Chicken Ala Thing. (Actually someone called it that before I think it was Kman!)

The cheese spread was probably your boldest move in this one - actually trying that stuff is something to applaud! I commend you for your heroic efforts. :mrgreen:

I hope to one day have a "fresh" nutcake again - like Cavguy, I have had some bad luck with them.

Your hot cocoa was probably on the verge of being spoiled - I have had one with a metallic flavor that took it a step further where it coated my throat with a burning sensation. It was awful! You're lucky you had a beer on the ready just in case.

I actually had some crackers from 1995 recently with the same exact condition - they were bland with no snap and were crumbly. Also on the verge of being spoiled I assume?

You're lucky you didn't crack your tooth on that gum! I feel like it's a shame it was kinda off now - sometimes the old gums are the best.

Thanks so much for sharing this awesome review, Norton! :D

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Re: Menu 9 Chicken Ala King date?

Post by parafireboy » Mon Jan 18, 2016 1:36 am

Nice review Norton! I hope you held on to the pouch stand, those are kind of collector items. If I remember correctly, I think I read a thread on here where it mentions that they were only included in the 1986 menus, or a couple of the menus at least.

Thanks for sharing, I love seeing the "brown bags" again, and it always brings back memories seeing those early MREs.

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Re: Menu 9 Chicken Ala King date?

Post by elandil » Mon Jan 18, 2016 2:36 pm

thanks for taking one for the team. Great to see some of these brown bags coming back in the review, shows how the shelf life can be subjective.

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Re: Menu 9 Chicken Ala King date?

Post by gundog4314 » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:16 pm

That menu was my most loathed. I've had one sitting here I tried to send to Ashens since he and Barry like to eat disgusting stuff. Seems "we" have our own questionable eater with Steve1989 so I'm sending it to him in the next box.

Great pics and review as always Norton!


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Re: Menu 9 Chicken Ala King date?

Post by steve1989 » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:14 am

I am very much up for the challenge on trying that Chicken Ala Thing and reviewing it, gundog! Thank you, good sir! :D I have your package going out tomorrow, too! The main item plus a little something extra. ;)

Norton, your reviews are always bold and brave - descriptive and classics to the genre. You're an inspiration and thank you for your awesome work, as always.

I'll have to provide you with a Ration to review again soon, Norton.. not sure what yet, but I can promise I will come up with something good. :)

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Re: Menu 9 Chicken Ala King date?

Post by gschultz9 » Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:49 pm

Great review of an old...classic? I actually have one of these sitting around from that same vintage that I saved from my days in the Army in the 80s. I've been putting off reviewing it for a couple years, but it's certainly not gonna get any better, right?

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Re: Menu 9 Chicken Ala King date?

Post by Ruleryak » Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:47 pm

Definitely have to chime in on the Norton-praise :mrgreen: Seeing the run of older MREs has been a pleasure - not to mention very nostalgic.

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