I saw this article in the Washington Times on how a military lab is trying to create pizza for an MRE. That stands for Meals-Ready-to-Eat, which is a meal in a pouch that a soldier is given and can carry in her cargo pocket. This has come a long ways from the MREs we had during Desert Storm.
Then, the military didn’t think much more than simply making sure that the troops got fed. We were tools to them, and we needed fuel. That didn’t leave a very good track record because the food didn’t have to be good. As a result, we’re often stuck with what we get.
MREs were served for lunch during Desert Storm. The soldiers filed into the mess hall and stood in the line. At the end of the line, a cook stood by a stack of MRE boxes and handed out a food pouch to each person. Almost like a conveyor belt. You got whatever came out next. Sometimes you’d get something good like Spaghetti with Meatballs, which everyone liked, or you’d get Omelet with Ham, which was one of those meals that made you wonder if the people designing it had actually tasted it. From the Air Force, though it identifies the problem perfectly:
They learned from feedback after the Persian Gulf war that many servicemembers didn’t clean their plates, rating MREs just below hospital and airline food. They even dubbed them with dubious nicknames like “Meals, Rejected by Everyone” and “Meals, Rarely Edible.”
At least with airline food, you’re only subjected to it for one or two meals, and then you can go get real food once you’re off the plane. When you’re in the military, you have to eat it every day, and sometimes more than once. When we went to Log Base Alpha, we went to MREs three times a day because they were better than what we were getting in the mess hall.
Think about that a moment. MREs had nicknames like “Four Fingers of Death.” It took Desert Storm for the military to realize they needed to change what they were giving the soldiers and think about what people liked to eat.