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.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Timmer says:

    During DS I was standing a post and one of the the local cats that had been left behind when the civ contractors bugged out came up to see what was going on. It was bone thin. I opened my beef stew, ate a bit and then put the rest down for the cat.

    You ever have a cat give you a complete look of disdain and walk away from you?

    Yeah, like that.

  2. sam says:

    Ah, military field rats. I recall opening C ration boxes (1958-1962) and finding packs of cigarettes of WWII-Korea vintage in foil packets…the nadir of the rats was some awful melange called “ham, potatoes, and gravy” — to be avoided if at all possible. In contrast to the much sought after “beanie-weanie”, truly a gourmet item. As for being hot, well you could alway warm ’em up in your pisspot, if you wanted to. Ill-advised, though, as the heating took the temper out of the helmet. The memories come flooding back, not quite madeleine-induced, unfortunately.

  3. Bithead says:

    I can’t help but wonder if hot wings are a wise choice. Maybe it’s just me but much as I love hot wings, it doesn’t lave me working my best a few hours after eating.

  4. travis says:

    i loved the dehydrated pork and beef patties. mix em in your canteen cup with ramen noodles, the MRE cheese packet, the flavor packet and water. crush your MRE crackers, stir them in and your set. a meal fit for a king.

  5. Dennis says:

    Funny, I used to LIKE the dehydrated pork patty. Reconstituting it made it nasty but, eaten dry, it gave you something crunchy that was oddly satisfying.

    But then, I used to like all of the C-rats except the spaghetti and meat ‘chunks’. (with extra grease….)