Susana at cut on the bias posted on Army rations and got a whole mess of responses. Heh.

MREs have evolved a lot over the years. I first ate them in the summer of 1984 and they were pretty awful. But the ones I ate during Desert Storm were pretty good. They’d done away with the dehydrated meat patties and such and gone to much better food. I have been out since 1992 but understand they have continued to improve.

So, a lot of the folks that hate MREs (Meals Rejected by Ethiopians was one popular nickname) are likely talking about the early ones. The main problem with them is that there are only a dozen or so varieties (or at least that’s all there used to be). If you eat them three meals a day for a couple of weeks, they get old very fast. That would be true even if they were absolutely delicious.

I have eaten some of the old C-Rations as well, as my dad brought some home a couple times in the early 1970s. I didn’t like them, although they’re fondly remembered by some veterans of that era. And the little “P-38” can openers than were issued with them are handy for carrying around on a keychain.

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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. John Lemon says:

    I remember the C-Rats from my father as well (I also recall K-Rats). As I kid, I thought they were totally cool. I remember this “coffee cake” in a can that had some kind of cherry goo on it. That was my favorite. Let it be known that I have an iron stomach and pretty much like anything edible.

  2. Jeff Smith says:

    Unfortunately, I remember them from having to eat them while in the field. At least you could use the can to make a stove to heat them with. How do you heat an MRE?

  3. Tom says:

    I ate C Rats in the mid seventies while playing REFORGER games. The C Rats were pretty awful, but I still have my P38 on my keyring.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Soldiers had all sorts of creative way to heat MREs, including putting the entree components on the engine block during movement. Later, they actually started issuing heat tabs with them, although I missed out on that. My understanding is that the current version comes with a very efficient heating system, which does indeed make the meals much more palatable. And satisfying, especially in cold, damp weather.