Saturday, November 19, 2011

Product Review - New Menu MRE's

Since today was hunt day for Girlie Bear and me, I decided to have a treat for lunch and grabbed two MRE's out of the camping gear.  These are from the new menu, and I haven't tried them, so I thought I'd try them out.

Girlie Bear got Beef Stew and I got Beef Brisket.  Here are my impressions:

  • Beef Stew - Dinty Moore quality.  'Nuf said.
  • Beef Brisket - For those of you who remember C-Rats, it was almost identical in taste and texture to Beef in Sauce.  It did, however, come with a tear-open packet of pretty good barbecue sauce to mix in.  This, however, made the meal almost soupy enough to drink.  It also came with a 'biscuit' that when mixed in made it a bit easier to eat with the included spoon.
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes - The side dish for the Beef Stew meal.  These weren't too bad, actually, but garlic mashed potatoes in field rations?  Really?  These must have been what the packet of Butter Buds in the accessory pack was intended for. 
  • Desserts - The Beef Stew came with a spiced pound cake, which Girlie Bear reported was quite yummy. The Beef Brisket came with what I call a "M&M Cookie", but is described on the package as a "Cookie with Pan Coated Chocolate Disks".  Both Girlie Bear and I gave this a thumbs up.
  • Hot Drinks  - The Beef Brisket came with hot cocoa, and the Beef Stew came with vanilla cappuccino.  Apparently, the days of mixing your instant coffee, cocoa, sugar, and creamer to make a poor man's mocha are over.  These came in a new container, which is basically an hourglass shaped mylar envelope with a closer like a Zip-Loc bag on it.  The powder is in the envelope already, allowing the soldier to tear open the top, add water, re-close the envelope, shake to mix, then drink.  If hot water isn't available, cold water can be used, and the drink can be heated using the meal's heater packet.  Not sure how these taste or how easy it is to drink a hot liquid from a mylar envelope, but I'm going to give one of these a try tomorrow.
  • Accessory Packet - The coffee, creamer, and sugar are no longer included, at least not in these meals.  To me, this would be a problem, as one of my favorite tricks when I absolutely had to stay awake through exhaustion was to either put the instant coffee between my cheek and gums like it was chewing tobacco or to place it a granule at a time under my eyelids.  Either way, the pain and caffeine being absorbed directly into the blood stream would keep me awake for at least a few hours.  For those not that psychotic or self-hating, the ability to make a quick cup of coffee after gathering the fixings from several MRE's was a lifesaver.   The Beef Brisket included a miniature bottle of Tobasco sauce, as was usual after the First Gulf War.  However, the Beef Stew instead had the Butter Buds flavoring for the potatoes instead.  Again, I see this as a problem.  The stew, while OK in flavor, definitely needed something added, especially if a soldier is going to be eating this item once every few days.
Overall, the two meals were pretty good, especially when compared with some of the other MRE's I've eaten (Shelf stable omelet, anyone?).  My main quibbles are with how practical I see the hot beverage container and the lack of instant coffee and Tobasco in the accessory pack.  That being said, I would much rather spend several months eating this fare over the meals I regularly got in the 1990's, even when the first menu changes came along in 1996 and 1997.

Disclaimer - I didn't get anything for this review.  I paid for the product with my own money.


MrG's said...

like the review...I do remember ham and chickenloaf......*blech* the tuna casserole was pretty good though.

DaddyBear said...

True story - I had a coyote at NTC steal a tuna casserole MRE out of my hand when I fell asleep eating it. I guess anything's edible if you're hungry enough, because he took off running with that thing.

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