Video: 5 Things You Don’t Know About Rations

MRERations on the battlefield have come a long way over the history of war. Military scientists are constantly trying to make them more nutritional — and although it’s hard to believe sometimes — taste better.

As part of’s “5 Things You Don’t Know” series, we took a look at the history of rations and where they might be going. For instance, U.S. military leaders didn’t start worrying about how the rations tasted until 1944.

As for the future? Having a hot dog or a piece of pizza printed for on the battlefield is not out of the realm of possibility. Check it out here. And for mobile readers, use this link.

  • JCitizen

    “Meals Rejected by the Enemy” is right, as far as I was concerned for the quality of the MRE from 1986 to 1991, I can’t vouch for it since then, although I’ve tried civilian versions since. To this day, I still think the original MCI from Vietnam to 1986 was the best tasting field food I’ve ever eaten. Maybe I’m alone on this, but I had better energy and actually lost weight while subsisting on C rats early in my career. I actually wish they still made them, so I could buy them for outdoor camping and maybe even storage with my bug out bag.

    • Jerry Summers

      Please, compared to C’s MRE’s are gourmet.

      • JCitizen

        To each his own – I liked the C rations so much I didn’t bother to heat them up!

      • DBM

        the guy was wrong MREs came out around lat 82. I preferred the C-rats over the first Gen MREs . The MREs not only tasted horrid but they either constipated you gave you shi@ts.

  • Kevin

    MRE’s now (at leats when I was i 94-07) really aren’t that bad. We just b!tch because we b!tch about everything… Do I want to eat them at home? Of course not, but for what they are, they’re really no worse than any canned food you get in the supermarket.

  • steelcobra

    “As for the future? Having a hot dog”

    Uhh, we tried that already. They were called the Five Fingers of Death.

    • Riceball

      5 Fingers of Death, lol, that’s what we’d call them in my unit too when I was in.

  • JESullivan

    In 1969 we of the 9th Infantry were issued C-rats dated 1949! The year of my birth. Not until the LRRP ration was introduced did we get any relief, and due to massive water requirements for reconstitution , the Cs remained predominant. While early MREs were a challenge, the quality and diversity of meals today are excellent, making them very edible. But I do miss the old Cs, or MCI.

    • gallowglas

      Nothing like beef with potatoes in gravy made with a cow that’s been dead 20 years ago.

    • JCitizen

      My bud “Mad Mike”, said he’d rather eat a rock monkey that those LRRP rations; and they did when they crossed into Cambodia.

  • galloglas

    CLNC circa 1974 I was married and we were broke the wife said she wanted spaghetti and meat balls so I broke into my 782 gear and found a can of C-ration Spaghetti and meatballs, opened them up she took one bite and spit it up, whispering, “What the hell is that stuff” I said what does it taste like? She said, “dog food with worms” Yup, made in 1962 too.

  • Niels

    In 1976, I was eating c-rats from 1949. As long you had a bottle of hot sauce packed in your gear, they were’nt bad. Even into 1981-82 the Marines were still being issued c-rats from the 1950’s. Yum Yum!!! The MRE’s were alright. Our scientists need to take lessons from the Aussies. Their K-Rats were great.

    • edwin henke

      yeah! as long as the can was intact and not punctured they last till methusala comes hoe!! and better tasting than meals rejected by Ethiopians….. semper fidelis!!!

  • purpleheartpark

    LRRP Rations. Dumbest Idea to hit Vietnam….Sounded Good in the States where Water was everywhere but when you carried Four Canteens of Water, another 8 pounds, and you had to use a Half a Canteen of water per LRRP meal and then no way to Heat them…Back to C-Rats and Rice Balls…..

    • artymgysgt

      They were great for the REMFS who had plenty of H2O

  • Thomas67

    I must have been the only one to actually like the 80’s ‘chock blocks’, or the compressed oatmeal cookie bars.

    • Stefan S.

      Ahh, the memories. The dehydrated fruit was good. But the “track pad” brownie covered in chocolate was garbage. Newbies used to complain till I reminded them of horrors of the original MRE’s.

  • Ed Goehring

    when the 4th Id arrived in the NAM, in late 1966, Our C-rations were stamped 1945, But we stil turned them into gormet meals, Like Outstanding Pound cake, , Heat the pound cake, and pour sliced peaches over them.Grilled Ham Slices, C-4 was stuck tto the bottom side of a Machettie, Lit, and Ham slices were grilled on top My favorite, was a Steel pot used to cook NVA rice ration,then a couple cans of spiced beef was stired in , and a squad was fed. Then everyones favorite, Ham & Mothers, I will say no more!


    I can remember getting all of the Chicken al La King in my platoon during Gulf War1 cause it looked like something the dog just threw up. Anyways I liked it. Chicken Ala Death was it’s nickname.