1986 MRE #12 – Ground Beef with Spiced Sauce
Date: 20 August 2009
I recently picked up a partial case (10 out of 12) of 1986 MREs. MREs first replaced MCIs in 1981 and that first generation of MREs ran from 1981 to 1985. So this 1986 case represents the second of what would eventually be many generations of Meals, Ready to Eat.
The first MRE up for review is the first one I grabbed out of the case – Menu #12 – Ground Beef with Spiced Sauce. Let’s see how this 23 year old MRE has held up!
And here’s MRE #12 and its contents – looks like a tasty menu:
Here’s the “Beef, Ground, with Spiced Sauce”. My first thought was “the finest Army Alpo!” because it really does look like something straight from a can of dog food. But it didn’t smell bad and a small spoonful showed it tasted fine.
MRE Crackers and Peanut Butter – a true “staple” of MREs. The crackers weren’t as fresh and “crispy” as new MRE crackers but one thing was definitely different – these crackers were salted! Newer MRE crackers aren’t salted like “Saltines” but these were and it definitely improved the crackers’ normally bland taste. As for the crispiness, even though the crackers were a bit firm, they reminded me of some European ration crackers (biscuits). Very good stuff! The peanut butter packet felt pretty squishy but after a minute of kneading, the oil seemed to get mixed back in and when I finally opened it, the peanut butter tasted normal.
This is the freeze-dried “Fruit Mix”. The instructions say, “Eat dry or reconstitute in cold water. To reconstitute, cover fruit with water. Let soak until soft.” I followed the directions and let it soak for about 15 minutes. After that time (in the fifth picture below), the fruit looked reconstituted but it really didn’t have any taste – nothing sweet, just an unflavored texture – like I knew I was eating a bit of pineapple but there was no taste to it.
The “Cookie Bar, Chocolate Covered”!! This is truly one of the best MRE desserts (in my opinion). Even better, these puppies hold up over time. This one was fresh as the day it was packed, back during Ronald Reagan’s second term as President!
Finally, here’s the accessory pack. Not much has changed in the past 23 years with these. They still include freeze-dried coffee, creamer, sugar, salt, chewing gum, matches, and an amazingly tiny amount of what they want you to use for toilet paper:
Overall, if I had to eat this MRE for an actual meal and my survival depended upon it, I think I could eat it. The main entree of Ground Beef was pretty greasy tasting but I might be able to choke it down if it were warmed up or if I were very hungry enough.