Many soldiers do not know where MRE's come from or why they are designed the way they are.
Here are some answers about the history of the military food rations given to soldiers in field situations.
Q: What are Meals Ready to Eat? A: They are a type of field rations made of individual packages designed to supply the daily food needs of a soldier.
Q: When were MRE's first used? A: MRE field rations have been around a long time, but were first used in the U.
in about 1775.
Q: What were field rations like back then? A: The first included 16 ounces of beef, about 7 ounces of peas, about 1 ounce of rice, a little milk and flour, and a quart of spruce beer.
Q: When were the components of Meals Ready to Eat changed after that? A: The next version of field rations was made in the War of 1812.
Q: What did the War of 1812 rations consist of? A: The rations of that day were whittled down to some meat, rum, salt, and vinegar.
They had limited vitamins and minerals, along with low calories.
Q: Why were these ingredients so different? A: At that time, field rations were difficult to acquire, and the military got the best they could find available.
Q: Did the rations change through the next field situations before the 20th century? A: The MRE's changed with each conflict.
By the time of the Civil War, the packet was up to 12 individual items.
Q: What were MRE's like in World War I? A: They were hearty meals, made up of 17 different items.
The only essential nutrient they lacked was Vitamin A.
Q: How did the Meals Ready to Eat change between the two World Wars? A: Their components were changed so that cheaper ingredients could be used.
The sizes became smaller so they could carry more.
The number of items was up to 31 by 1927.
In 1932, combat rations were introduced.
Q: What were combat rations? A: They were based on a one can meal such as stew, easy to carry and full of vitamins and minerals.
Q: What did World War II bring for military field rations? A: The MRE's which were officially named field rations were used.
They had six cans: three of meat and vegetable mixture, and 3 cans with supplementary menu items.
Q: What happened with military food rations between World War II and the present? A: There were improved canned rations used in Vietnam, called MCI field rations.
In 1963, the product now known as Meals Ready to Eat was officially developed.
Q: What were the steps from then until now? A: The first step was getting the field rations into dehydrated form where they were lighter for the soldiers to carry.
A larger variety of menus was added and larger serving sizes.
Q: What is going on in MRE research today? A: Meals Ready to Eat are constantly undergoing further development.
A few goals are to make them tastier, to add better fiber content and to give them better nutritional value.