1982 Pork Patty

Taste Test: 1982 Menu #1 – Pork Patty

November 11, 2005

One of the mreinfo.com forum members, kyle, was kind enough to send me a couple of MREs that had been sitting a storage building for years. He said they had been subject to all the temperature fluctuations the high desert provides – frozen in the winter and 100+ degrees (Fahrenheit) in the summer. He didn’t want to keep them around since he didn’t know how old they were so I volunteered to take them off his hands and do an in-depth taste-test to see how old they were and how they tasted.

This MRE had to be from between 1981 and 1987 because that’s when the Pork Patty was used in MREs. I wouldn’t be able to tell exactly which year until I opened the bag. Opening the bag revealed at least one item (the applesauce, see the picture below) with a datecode of “2120B” – which I interpreted as being from around April 30, 1982. Woohoo! A 23 year old MRE!

My joy at digging into such a vintage MRE soon turned to horror, though, as I discovered that 1982 MREs don’t hold up as well as 1993 MREs.

Here are pictures of the MRE and its contents, along with some comments:

MRE Bag Contents
1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty MRE Bag
1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty MRE Contents 1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty MRE Contents
Accessory Pack and Contents Everything in the bag appeared to have held up – nothing was swelling or leaking and there weren’t any strange smells.
1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty MRE Accessory Pack and Contents 1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty MRE Accessory Pack and Contents


Entree Entree (close-up)
1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty Entree So here was the famous Dehydrated Pork Patty. I was a little surprised that it came wrapped in its own plastic baggie. 1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty Entree Here’s a close-up of the pork patty all by itself in the it’s package. It didn’t particularly smell like anything and seemed to still be held together pretty well.
Rehydrating the entree
1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty entree rehydrating
1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty entree rehydrating
To rehydrate the entree, I elected to use my hotel room’s coffee pot. I ran some hot water through the coffee pot and then opened up the pork patty and set it in there. It just kind of floated on the top. I kept trying to sink it but it would just float back up to the top.

After I dropped it in the water, I could definitely start smelling it – it smelled kind of like wet pork rinds. It wasn’t a bad smell – just a pork-smell. I let it rehydrate for about 10-15 minutes and finally took it out to try.

The finished product looked pretty much like it does in this picture – just wet and slightly more plump than it was before it went into the water. I took a couple of bites and chewed on it for a bit (no swallowing of the 23 year old pork!). It tasted “ok” – it certainly didn’t taste rancid or foul – but there was nothing special or endearing about it. It would be like eating a hamburger patty without the condiments or cheese or buns – edible but not very enjoyable. I can now see why the soldiers at the patties dry – because it wasn’t worth the time it takes to rehydrate them – they didn’t get much better.

Applesauce box and pouch Applesauce
1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty Applesauce Even though the Applesauce box looked a little beat up, the pouch looked promising. 1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty Applesauce The applesauce itself wasn’t “bad”. Again, I tasted but didn’t swallow any of it. I’m pretty sure that this stuff didn’t start out in life as dark brown in color but that must be what 23 years in a pouch will do to you. I could taste the apples and the sugar – again, nothing bad, just a little dull in flavor.
Crackers Cheese Spread
1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty, Crackers I had high hopes for the crackers. I mean…come on…crackers…what could possibly go wrong? Well, they looked good and smelled “cracker-ish” and they weren’t too crumbly. But the taste just wasn’t right. I’ve eaten 25 year-old MCI crackers from an MCI can and even though they tasted a bit like tin, they were still crunchy and good. But these crackers…it’s hard to say – there wasn’t a tin taste but something about them warned me off. 1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty, Cheese spread As soon as I cut into the pouch of cheese spread, I knew there was no way I was tasting any of it. Imagine for a moment how bad you think 23 year old might smell. Ok…done imagining? That’s exactly how it smells. It wasn’t “evacuate the room” bad but it was strong and it was past its time.
Chocolate Covered Cookie Inside a chocolate covered cookie
1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty, Chocolate covered cookie I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be one cookie or two cookies that had melded together over the almost quarter century they spent together in their pouch. Either way, the cookie looked good and smelled good. But again…the taste left something to be desired. It didn’t taste “bad” but something was off in the taste so I stopped after a couple of bites that were chewed and then spat out). 1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty, Inside chocolate covered cookie Two cookies? One cookie? In the end it didn’t matter because it was a “I’m not going to eat this” cookie.
Dehydrated Catsup
1982 Menu #1 - Pork Patty, Dehydrated Catsup “Catsup” – their spelling. I would have said “Ketchup” but that’s what was printed on the package (see the above accessory packet pictures). Anyway, for kicks, I decided to rehydrate this stuff. Yuck…it was more like rehydrated vinegar – any tomato base must have long since disintegrated.

All in all, the only edible thing I found in this MRE was the salt. The sugar and coffee might be good but I haven’t opened them yet. I went into this experiment without having any dinner so by the time through the mystery-meat pork patty, the not-quite rancid applesauce, the “dirty gym socks” cheese spread, and the rehydrated nightmare they called “catsup”, I was ready for some real food!

The lesson here…1982 MREs make great showpieces…and nothing else.

Thanks again, kyle!