November 02, 2021

Technology Ahead of It's Time

Many of you are familiar with Steve1989's YouTube channel. He collects and reviews survival rations and emergency kits, mostly military from various eras. 

Steve's notoriety comes from the fact that, being a Florida-Man,  he tries to eat the old ration kits if possible, and his deadpan commentary combined with childlike enthusiasm means hilarity frequently ensues. This is particularly true in the pre-1970s ration kits where at least some components are usually inedibly rancid resulting in his transcendental joy when he finds something like a partially edible K-Rat from 1943.

However that is not nearly as impressive as the video I blundered into today. Last year, he opened a U.S. survival ration from 1906. It consisted of three sets of vitamin fortified mystery beef, and three sets of chocolate. 

While grim, the ration was completely edible after 114 years and held up MUCH better than much more recent rations. While the newer C-rats and MREs are no doubt vastly better for morale, the shelf life of the 1906 ration is unbeatable. This ration was a much more basic bit of sustenance, intended for in-extremis situations, and can be eaten cold or as a stew in one's mess kit. It is actually more advanced in some ways than the WW2 ration kits. The packaging involved is pretty sophisticated and elegant even by today's standards, and it actually  has slightly more calories than a modern MRE in about 2/3 to half the volume. 

On the debit side, it's...pemmican and chocolate, kinda grim,  with no other menu options. 

But it is not intended to be a general purpose meal, one had other options for that, like mobile canteens, rather this was intended for forced marches and traveling light for a few days. 

And at least this one kept more than a century. It would be nice, in these interesting times, if these were still being produced. They are much more compact than the modern alternatives that are (dubiously) advertised as lasting a fifth as long. 

It should be noted that this is a slightly more advanced and mechanically refined version of a British emergency ration from the 1890s, which inspired it. That one did not hold up quite as well, but even it was partially edible after 121 years. 


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