Submitted by Churba Silvertongue

The FRED is a cousin of the P-38 Can opener.  It utilizes the same basic design, but also adds a small spoon on one end and a bottle opener on the other.  FRED is an official acronym -  Food Ration Extraction Device -  but is usually known by the more popular "Frigging Ridiculous Eating Device."  For two small bits of stamped metal, it is astoundingly useful for boot scraping, cutting, wire stripping, prying things apart, and opening boxes.  It can also be used as a screwdriver, an improvised tool for firearm maintenance or radio Repair, and even a small but effective weapon.  Oh, yeah, and it opens cans. 

     FREDs are usually available from Australian Disposal stores (online, too) for about .50c Australian.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Ric November 26, 2006 at 3:14 pm

Also available in Aussie Ration Packs. Most reliable can opener in the world!!


Strider November 29, 2006 at 3:29 pm

Another great can opener is the OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE I P-38 CAN OPENER a.k.a "John Wayne"
It was developed in just 30 days in the summer of 1942 by the Subsistence Research Laboratory in Chicago. And never in its 55-year-old history has it ever been known to break, rust, need sharpening or polishing; which is why many soldiers past and present, have come to regard the P-38 C-Ration can opener as one of the greatest Army Inventions ever.

These things can do anything…
Three for 1USD at DogTagsRUs


Andrew Kirk December 7, 2006 at 11:20 am

FREDs are the single most useful thing I have ever used. It's fun to go around telling people that it's an "Army Issue Combat Spoon."
Quite a few actually believe it…


Paul North December 7, 2006 at 7:18 pm

Can you suggest an online store to get a FRED? I've still got a P-38. Used to wear it around my neck with my dogtags.


Bob Hunter December 13, 2006 at 3:44 pm

Are there any SPECIFIC sites from which I can order these? I'm a member of Post 9086 of the VFW in Torrington, CT. We're always looking for ways that will make life a little easier for our troops abroad. This is a gift that can be purchased in bulk for a relatively low cost, and positively affect the lives of several soldiers. I'd like to pitch this to my post. Please advise if you know of any sites that'll work with us. Thanks.


Woomera37 December 15, 2006 at 11:08 am

The FRED has been one of the most useful items that I have been issued in my career. I still have them in places around the house like my tool box, the golvebox of the car, in the kitchen draw as a back up opener and one on the beer fridge.


Dick Smith December 15, 2006 at 11:53 am

I, for one, am still waiting for an answer to the questions already asked, about where or how this item can be purchased.


Jack Ezel December 15, 2006 at 11:56 am

You can find them at for $1.00. The direct link is . I do not have any relationship with them, just found the link.


curt watkins December 15, 2006 at 1:49 pm

well, lets see. i know for a fact that the aussies i worked with HATE these things!!! they call it the "F*CKING RIDICOLOUS EATING DEVICE." when i trained with them years ago–they all had grabbed up our MRE spoons and cut a hole in them and wore them on thier dogtag chain!! i saw them in person and these things are a joke!! just hang onto your MRE spoon so you will always have something to eat with and forget the "FRED"


Brent Rogers December 15, 2006 at 2:07 pm

There's nothing like a poke in the skin whenever the P38 spikes open and sticks you.


M/Sgt Jim Root, USAF December 15, 2006 at 3:49 pm

As a Jump-Qualified Rescue Specialist & SERE Instructor from 1954-1974 I carried & used the P-38 my entire career. I have carried my old
P-38 on my keyring since then!
I may have the oldest P-38 still in use–it's over 50 years old & still works better than any of the "new-fangled" devices!


Gene Strouth December 15, 2006 at 4:08 pm

You will never see me without m P-38. I received it in my c-rations and have never seen anythig better to open a large can of coffee. I was in the service for 20 years and hav been out 32 years.When was my P-38 made, hell,I don't know and don't give a shit…


Gene Strouth December 15, 2006 at 4:10 pm

You will never see me without m P-38. I received it in my c-rations and have never seen anythig better to open a large can of coffee. I was in the service for 20 years and hav been out 32 years.When was my P-38 made, hell,I don't know and don't give a shit…SFC E-7 Gene A. Strouth of ARIZONA


Bert Lane December 15, 2006 at 6:03 pm

I was discharged in 1982 after 20 years. I still have about six 'Fred's' in my kitchen drawer – all fully serviceable and all used frequently. They were just the best invention – apart from the GP Boot.

Bert Lane


MAJ (ret) Fred D., N December 15, 2006 at 6:16 pm

First of all, yes, my name really is Fred. All this discussion has suddenly brought back fond memories of P-38's I have known and loved since I enlisted in the active Army in '78. Question: does anyone know where exactly the designation "P-38" came from? And how does anyone know that "P-38" is its name (besides word of mouth)? Is it written anywhere? Remember that they came only 2 or 4 to a case of 12 C-Rats? It seems to me that after I was in the service for a while, a slightly larger version appeared. Does anyone else remeber that? The MRE ended the era of the P-38 but made it necessary for you to have some kind of knife on you (if you didn't already) to open the packages. Agreed?


Dick in Albuquerque December 15, 2006 at 7:05 pm
Dave December 15, 2006 at 10:13 pm

I'm an Army Brat and always loved c-rats. The second thing I put on my first key chain was a P-38 and it is still there. I'd be lost without it and wouldn't know what to do if at least once a day the cutting point didn't stick me in the leg.


John Friedson December 16, 2006 at 2:43 am

We've been using the same P38 in our kitchen for over 25 years! Don't even have an electric opener. Incredible.


Cpl. Duffy December 16, 2006 at 3:52 am

I got my P-38 in 1942 on the Mojave desert. We were training to go to N. Africa and meet General Rommel. It went with me all the way to Korea by way of several Pacific islands including Okinawa on April first. The guys already there in NAF fixed his wagon so I didn't get to meet him.


Col Gerald Safford U December 16, 2006 at 5:11 am

I received my first "P-38" in 1948 when I joined the Oklahoma National Guard, 45th Inf Div. (I still have it.)

Legend was that the design was copied from a device taken from Japanese POW's. This may or may not be true. I have always been skeptical of this tale, but who knows ?


COL Rod Reed, USA (R December 16, 2006 at 1:21 pm

All stories about the legendary exploits and deeds of the P-38 are "true." I will add a FRED to my emergency kit and plan to be buried with both — just in case I need to "open up and dig out!"


mick brand December 20, 2006 at 1:02 am

u better believe it. This is a fantastic tool. Get one any way you can. It will also open a beer. What more could you want.


donle December 22, 2006 at 11:12 pm

Are you in the Military, Active Duty – say no more.

Want a P38 or two – I have many – just send an address and name and I'll send them out after the Holidays – stay safe !


Joe Wilson January 6, 2007 at 3:21 am

You can get the P-38 in a package of 5 for $2.97 + shipping from;


Joe Wilson January 8, 2007 at 4:13 am

Andrew Kofod
Goulburn Disposals
94 Auburn St
P.O. Box 579
NSW 2580

This place carry FRED's and sell them NEW in a pack of 2 for $10.00AUD.

Freight to the USA they said would be another $7.00


Harry Morant May 27, 2014 at 9:39 am

Repro's – not the real thing


Aussie January 9, 2007 at 5:36 am

i reckon these Yanks would be stupid enough to pay 5 or 10 bucks for a FRED!!!!!!


Jack Cloud January 18, 2007 at 2:50 am

I don't think the spoon is all that good, but the can opener is great. It's longer than the U.S. version and has better leverage. I had mine issued in an Australian ration I received while serving close to the RAA in Somalia.


Annonymous January 19, 2007 at 4:30 am

Just thought you might to know someone is exposing your company. Check out: not sure what the laws on it are, but…


Dana Christensen January 19, 2007 at 6:52 pm

Freds sound like a great idea to add to a P-38 (I had my dads). Does anyone sell them in the states? the links above dont work.


Bama Katt February 6, 2007 at 1:53 pm

In response to how the P-38 got it's name: I was always told it was because it took 38 Punctures to open a 1lb coffee can.

It should be pointed out,though,that my dad (26 years service) was a helluva good man who always enjoyed making up pretty wild answers to "Daddy why" questions.

I've got one on my key ring right now- hanging on my belt,NOT in my pocket; learned THAT painful lesson years ago- but I'll bet I forget about counting holes,just like I always do, by the time I need to open a new can of coffee.


JR April 6, 2007 at 4:28 pm

Fred is sold in CONUS by Coleman at….


jeff May 7, 2007 at 6:02 pm

You can open a beer with a FRED. Great thing to have.


Brian June 23, 2007 at 10:45 pm

Just thought I would let yall know. The FRED is back at, along with alot of other cool survival kits and stuff. I think it is under either Tools and Sharps section or the Food Prep and Storage.


Jake September 11, 2007 at 2:57 am

The Spanish equivelent to the MRE (actually high class c-rats) has a dandy can opener. I obtained mine in the late 90's and it still is in use.


Dan Kellett October 6, 2008 at 12:46 pm

The acronym is acually,
Field Ration Eating Device.

It is no longer included in CR1M aussie ration packs.


John D. May 12, 2012 at 5:12 am

Carried one since BCT in 1977, always had one somewhere in my kit in 4 combat deployments and 32 yrs of active service. While in Germany in 79, my supply SGT wife got a bag of them and we sent one each in every christmas card we sent! Friends and relatives still show us the P-38 on their keychain to this day!! One of the war winning tools of WW2!! PS we are still married!!


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