The Miracle of MREs

Peanut Butter, Strawberry Jam, and Wheat Snack Bread. Your argument is invalid.
Peanut Butter, Strawberry Jam, and Wheat Snack Bread. Your argument is invalid.

I’ve wanted to write something about MREs for a while. I added it to my list of things to write about sometime last year when I rejoined the Army. We’d go to the field and eat MREs and people would instantly start bitching about it. I got a little annoyed, because I remember a time when all I ate was MREs for months with few exceptions. It stopped being gross and it just became normal. It even started getting good.

Then there came this report of marines in Afghanistan who are upset that they were losing midnight chow. As an aside, I feel for them. Midnight chow was fun. I only went to midnight chow if I got back from a late-night raid and was still amped up. Or if I was going to be up late playing a marathon session of Halo at Hotel California. It was a good place to go to unwind after a mission or before facing the Covenant.

Aside over, midnight chow really isn’t a necessity. It was nice to have. Most people don’t read the article, but like to get enraged. I’ve seen posts on social media with headlines like “Obama not letting Marines in Afghanistan eat” and other such nonsense. Writing about MREs gets people worked up. It’s one of those cultural issues that gets military folk fired up because if you served in the military, you’ve probably eaten an MRE so you have an opinion. It’s the military equivalent of a social issue that gets politicized, like Vibram Five Fingers, or infidel gear. It’s silly, but fun.

That said, every good soldier out there prefers hot chow. General Ridgway considered hot chow one of the most important tools in a leader’s arsenal to keep morale high, and went to great lengths to ensure soldiers fighting in Korea received hot meals as frequently as possible.

When I go to the field, I always prefer hot chow.

All that said, MREs are getting a bad rap. Yeah, they’re not hot chow. But geez, it’s almost 1,500 calories in a neat, portable package! Oh, and it comes in over 20 different varieties! And oh by the way, you don’t have to eat them cold, because it comes with a portable heater. And coffee. With sugar and creamer.

Why, without MREs, we wouldn’t have the cracker challenge:


So everyone calm down!

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