1944 C Ration Breakfast B Unit

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1944 C Ration Breakfast B Unit

Post by Jim_M1988 » Tue Mar 21, 2023 4:41 pm


It's been a little while since I've written up a review - normally put off by the photo compression stage of things. However, this time I felt it was something really worth sharing.

A few years ago I came into the possession of a 1944 B Unit, that I was assured would likely be edible and encouraged to open and try! It was the first one in my collection so I was in a dilemma between opening and trying or preserving this one. I decided that when the right occasion arose, I would take this once in a lifetime opportunity to open and enjoy some food from my favourite period in history.

That occasion happened a couple of weeks ago at Azeville Gun Battery in Normandy, France. This is a German gun battery that was covering the far end of the American invasion sector. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azeville_battery
I've made regular trips to Normandy over the years with my friend Phil (Phil_M87 on here I think), who runs Normandy War Guide https://www.normandywarguide.com/, so he was there to enjoy this experience with me.
As promised, this ration was completely edible. The biscuits were pretty smashed up, having held their shape until I tried to remove them from the can, at which point they disintegrated.
They were relatively stale, but not foul or bad. I ate all but "approximately" 1 biscuit, which I've kept for future reference. Although they resemble a digestive biscuit the texture and taste were very different. Much less crumbly and not sweet. Although thicker they are a much closer resemblance to MCI crackers, just not salted.
The Cereal disc was a step up from the biscuits. Much sweeter, crumbly and delicious! I ate around a third dry and another third crumbled into boiling water. I have to say, both methods were pretty nice but reconstituted as a porridge would be my preference. I don't have refined enough taste to tell you exactly what the ingredients are without looking this up on Kration, but dry it reminded me very much of a crumbly oat granola bar.
Coffee and Sugar - both perfect! The coffee smelt and tasted great. I can't say I could tell it apart from the more modern instant versions as I tend not to drink instant coffee, but It was a real surprise how good 1940's instant coffee was. I had imagined it would be terrible in comparison, but it wasn't. When I checked it over, it did stain my hand...so I'm guessing there was chicory involved in portions that you don't see today - although I couldn't taste it.
I added 2 sugars and thoroughly enjoyed the drink and setting! It did make me wonder who else might have been before me, drinking US Ration coffee in this spot.
I've saved the best for last. The Candy Coated Peanuts! These were absolutely sealed in time. A very hard candy on top of a plain peanut, and although the ingredients only list "Sugar and Peanuts" I can't imagine there is a whole lot else involved beyond colouring and perhaps a binder. A simple sweet and savoury taste, similar to a modern M&M - these were great! I bit into the first one to check on the colour and deterioration of the nut inside but found it to be the pale colour of a fresh nut. No numbness, no strange after taste - delicious!
I probably ate a third of the packet there and then and since have picked on the odd one here and there to draw out the experience.
There are a few people I have promised to share that experience with, so most the rest of these will be shared out in the next few weeks.
In hindsight, I'm really glad I opened this while I had the time to savour and enjoy it in the correct setting. It was an experience not at all wasted on me at all and one I won't forget any time soon. It was good to enjoy it and reflect on what had happened on the ground we were standing on. I imagine, those peanuts would have been quite the morale booster and reminder of home on a tough day.

Anyway, if anyone wants the original photos or has any questions, ping me a message!
All the best,

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1944 Breakfast B Unit

Post by Tedster » Tue Mar 21, 2023 5:55 pm

Interesting and thanks for sharing. Any idea how or where it was stored, must have been under controlled conditions. I noticed they believed 5 grams of freeze dried coffee made a cup. It's less than half of that now, and no ciggies. No wonder they can't make their recruiting quotas.

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Re: 1944 Breakfast B Unit

Post by Jim_M1988 » Tue Mar 21, 2023 6:26 pm

Hey Ted!
Hah yeah right. I get the feeling once upon a time they were trying to make a good product that a soldier might even enjoy. That coffee was decent, it was a good portion! I imagine the full days C ration was plenty of food.
Yep, this one came out of Alaska, so I guess anywhere it was stored it was going to be a decent temperature :D.
It was quite an experience to try something that old and that well preserved, especially the cereal bar with the dried milk - figured there was a risk in that. I had a full body purge from some 2010 IMP cereal just before Christmas. I'm going to eek out these peanuts for as long as I think I can get away with it :wink:.

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Re: 1944 C Ration Breakfast B Unit

Post by Smitty » Tue Mar 21, 2023 7:49 pm

You rock, Jim! Thanks so much for posting this. By all accounts it seems like an awesome trip.
All the best, Gents.

- I'm also making videos mainly for my own enjoyment, but hey, maybe you might want to check them out: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4-9gp ... C1dSyPX0w/

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Re: 1944 C Ration Breakfast B Unit

Post by texrdnec » Tue Mar 21, 2023 10:40 pm

very cool, glad it was good! nothing sucks worse than opening one of these things you expect to be good and it being trashed

i've got a #1, #3 & #6 in my pile of stuff that doesn't fit in the display but i can't bring myself to open them

however, i did open my first B tonight. i took pics so you've inspired me to make my own thread for it...

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Re: 1944 C Ration Breakfast B Unit

Post by Jim_M1988 » Wed Mar 22, 2023 2:38 am

I can't imagine there are many left that are in any way edible. Got pretty lucky on this one and it was amazing to try. These are so incredibly rare in the UK I wouldn't have opened it if it wasn't the fact this was a gift from someone on the forum with the intention of opening and enjoying. Im only keeping names out of it to prevent anyone being hassled, but I am beyond grateful.

Finances for me these last few years are dire! I couldn't afford to buy one outright as things stand so collecting is a real hustle at my end to sell and trade bits out. I mainly collect American stuff, so most British bits I come into contact with I trade out. I'd love to have more ww2 stuff though, if I was ever forced to refine my collection...thats what I'd aim for.

Hah yeah man, can't open em just cause they don't fit :D
Honestly look forward to seeing what you've opened up. I'll keep my eyes peeled in the thread :D :D

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Re: 1944 C Ration Breakfast B Unit

Post by steve1989 » Sun Mar 26, 2023 9:46 am

What an experience! Cannot think of a cooler place to enjoy a ration like that.

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