Oct 30, 2020
It’s hard to think of a more beloved -- and sometimes hated -- cultural touchstone in the military than meals ready to eat, or MREs. They’ve been around since the C-Rations of World War II and beyond, and have for decades offered a touch of comfort and a taste of home -- albeit a highly engineered one that can last for years at high temperatures without spoiling. You can find MRE cookbooks that will tell you how to turn drink mix and generic toaster pastries into gourmet desserts, and there are scores of YouTube videos dedicated to taste-testing chili mac and the prized jalapeno cheese spread.
Well, it turns out there’s a lot of science that goes into each one of these compact rations packs, and sometimes the development of a new MRE menu item -- such as the coveted pepperoni pizza slice -- requires actual technological breakthrough. Today, we’ll talk to two people from the Combat Feeding Directorate in Natick, Massachusetts: Lauren Oleksyk, team leader for food engineering, who holds two patents in revolutionary food science, and David Accetta, an Army military historian and public affairs officer at the directorate.