Buffalo Chicken MREs
The Army is introducing a new MRE flavor, buffalo chicken, for the 2009 fiscal year. Ward Carroll has sampled them and is “happy to report it’s really good . . . and I’m a hot wing connoisseur.”
MREs (“Meal, Ready-to-Eat” in the quirky supply nomenclature of the U.S. Military) have been around since 1981 and have evolved radically over the years. I had my first, dehydrated pork patty, as a cadet in the summer of 1984. It was truly awful, edible only by soaking it in tepid water from one’s canteen and mixing it with the goddawful soup packet and “catsup, dehydrated” that were also in the brown, plastic envelope. We dubbed them “Meals Rejected by Ethiopians,” which was much funnier at the time .
Even by the time I left the service in 1992, the meals were markedly better. During Desert Storm, we ate three of them a day during the ground war which was, thankfully, short. The DoD “ration timeline” calls for eating them for 15-20 days straight, which would be mighty tedious. Still, the meals were are perfectly edible.
Modern MREs, in addition to being tastier and more nutrious, have one huge advantage over even the 1992 model: They’re hot.
The box comes with chow for 18 folks, and with the simple pull of a lanyard, the auto-boiler starts heating the entrees. They’re ready to eat in about a half hour.
The rationale for so much research, development, and improvement of MRE’s is simply: Morale. As Jeremy Whitsitt, Combat Feedings outreach coordinator of the DoD Combat Feeding Directorate (who knew?) told Ward: “An item like buffalo chicken makes a Soldier feel in touch with life back home.”