Meals Ready to Eat (MRE)
The History of MRE, Meals Ready-to-Eat
The first soldier ration established by a Congressional Resolution, during the Revolutionary War, consisted of enough food to feed a man for one day, mostly beef, peas, and rice. During the Civil War, the military moved toward canned goods. Later, self-contained kits were issued as a whole ration and contained canned meat, pork, bread, coffee, sugar and salt.
During the First World War, canned meats were replaced with lightweight preserved meats (salted or dried) to save weight and allow more rations to be carried by soldiers carrying their supplies on foot. At the beginning of World War II, a number of new field rations were introduced, including the Mountain ration and the Jungle ration. However, cost-cutting measures by Quartermaster Command officials during the latter part of World War II and the Korean War again saw the predominance of heavy canned C rations issued to troops, regardless of operating environment or mission. The use of canned wet rations continued through the Vietnam War, with the improved MCI field ration.
General contents may include:
- Main course
- Side dish
- Dessert or snack (often commercial candy, fortified pastry, or Soldier Fuel Bar.)
- Crackers or breadSpread of cheese, peanut butter, or jelly
- Powdered beverage mix: fruit flavored drink, cocoa, instant coffee or tea, sport drink, or dairy shake.Utensils (usually just a plastic spoon)
- Flameless ration heater (FRH)
- Beverage mixing bag
- Accessory pack:
- Xylitol chewing gum
- Water-resistant matchbook
- Napkin / toilet paperMoist towelette
- Seasonings, including salt, pepper, sugar, creamer, and/or Tabasco sauce
Many items are fortified with nutrients. In addition, DoD policy requires units to augment Meals Ready to Eat (MRE's) with fresh food and A-rations whenever feasible, especially in training environments.
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