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FR81 ~ US MRE Part 15 ~ Year 43 XLIII Batch

Year 43 XLIII Batch MRE as issued to a US Army HIMARS team deployed to the Middle East [© Bob Morrison]

As it is now over two and a half years since we looked at the US MRE, when offered a Year 43 XLIII Batch pack I naturally accepted the offer, writes Bob Morrison.


This particular XLIII Batch MRE was from a CASE A (MENUS 1-12) carton packed on 04 March (day 063) 2023 which was issued to a HIMARS crew forward deployed to the Middle East and temporarily located in Saudi Arabia for World Defence Show 2024; it was therefore well within date when I sampled it.

Base of the MRE carton my sample came from ~ note printed Packing & Inspection Dates plus the orange sticker which turns black if stored outside the required temperature range [©BM]
US Year 43 XLIII Batch Menu 1 MRE ration packed by SOPAKCO in late February 2023 [©BM]

Given my choice of the 12 Menus, I opted for Menu 1 Chili With Beans (227g). Packed by SOPAKCO Inc. six days (i.e. day 057 as stamped at the foot of the tan outer bag) before the carton was packed, this MRE also included: Sterling Foods Cornbread TFF (71g); Vegetable Crackers (170g); Cheddar Cheese Spread (28g); Pepperoni Pizza Crackers (40g); and Beverage Base Powder Lemon – Lime (34g). Total calorific values for these edible items works out at 1180kcal , i.e. 260 + 260 + 170 + 120 + 240 + 130.

The outer bag also included: Accessory Pack A; a Flameless Ration Heater; a Hot Beverage Bag; a Paperboard Sleeve (to contain the FRH plus meal pouch during heating) with nutritional info printed on it; and a Spoon. The partial vacuum sealed Accessory Pack included: Coffee, Non-Dairy Creamer, Moist Towelette, Chewing Gum, Safety Matches, Toilet Tissue, Sugar and Salt.

Over the last 43 years of producing the MRE (Meal Ready-to-Eat) the US Army has probably taken things as far as they can go, though no doubt in the not too distant future they will go over to something more akin to the tubed foodstuffs consumed by astronauts. It is therefore no surprise that (other than a couple of main course meal, or entrée, changes to break the routine) there is outwardly very little difference between Year 40 XL and Year 43 XLIII Batches. However one change I have noticed over the 30+ years I have been eating MREs is that they are definitely becoming less bland as US soldiers’ become more accustomed to eating ‘foreign’ foods. The chilli con carne in this pack is not really ‘foreign’, as Mexican food is widely available across the continental United States, but whereas in the distant past MRE Chili was not particularly inspiring, today it has a bit of kick so no need to add hot sauce for authenticity. Both the Pepperoni Pizza Crackers and the Cheddar Cheese Spread also seem tastier to me, even though these are synthetic concoctions, so I was quite content with everything contained in this meal pack (though I would have preferred Rice to the crumbly Cornbread).

Once heated (I used a pan on my stove to let me retain the FRH for emergency use) the Chili With Beans was both tasty and spicy with a decent kick [©BM]
Unfortunately my Cornbread had crumbled in transit but could have been mixed in with the chilli con carne as no rice was supplied [©BM]
That cheddar cheese spread could probably be used as an emergency beacon but it was really tasty and went well with the vegetable crackers [©BM]
The pepperoni pizza crackers are crunchy tubes with a softer filling and they do actually taste like pepperoni pizza ~ I liked these [©BM]

[images © Bob Morrison]


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