Support: June 3, 2000


: Army researchers have come up with four new MREs which will enter production shortly. As the Army always uses the oldest MREs in its stocks, these won't reach troops for about three years. While MREs are much maligned, they are actually quite tasty, healthy, and nutritious. The problem is that with only 12 menus, of which no one likes more than six or eight, the repetition becomes maddening in under a week. The new menus include:

@ Country Captain Chicken: an unhappy mix of chicken, curry, tomatoes, green peppers, red peppers, and black olives. Army Times taste testers regarded this as tasteless chicken in a less-than-tasty "brown tomato sauce". It replaces Chicken Stew in production during 2000.

@ Chicken Tetrazzini: A mix of noodles, chicken, and spices. This is to replace the ham slices in 2000. In recent years, the ham slices have not been as good as they once were. Army Times taste testers considered it to be "just like tuna with noodles" and they were not being complimentary.

@ Seafood Jambalaya: a spicy mix of beans, rice, sausage, and fish. This is to replace pork chow mein in 2001. Taste Testers loved it.

@ Beef enchiladas: regarded as the equivalent of those found in TV dinners. These are to replace "smoky franks" in 2001.

The side dishes rate somewhat better. Everyone who has tasted the raspberry applesauce has asked where to buy it in stores. Minestrone soup, western-style beans, and wild rice pilaf are other new side dishes. Marshmallow treats, graham cracker treats, and oatmeal cookies are the new desert items for 2000. In 2001, these will be joined by M&Ms, Nutter-butter cookies, chocolate-chip cookies, spiced pound cake, cereal (cinnamon or honey nut), and cheese-filled pretzels. The crackers will be replaced by a new pita-type long-storage bread. While the crackers are generally regarded as usable only to patch holes in armored vehicles, they are actually edible if crushed and mixed into the entrees. The Army has continued its quest to find a way to put a cheeseburger into an MRE, but progress to date has been less than spectacular. The current offer is a wet-pack pre-cooked beef patty, two slides of pita-type bread, and a packet of cheese spread. Soldiers who tried it noted that it was technically a cheeseburger but did not taste like meat or cheese.-Stephen V Cole




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