While most troops in Iraq now have access to PXs (mini military Wal-Marts), there is still a lot of useful stuff they cant get. Except in a package from home. Among the popular items sought from the folks back home are Clif Bars. These are high energy food bars that actually taste good. At about 220 calories each, they are enough to hold a soldier over if hes missed a few meals. That often happens in a combat zone. Another item for those little emergencies are breakable ice packs. These are sealed plastic pouches filled with chemicals that, when the pouch is bent, will become quite cold for a while. In Summertime Iraq, these can be handy if one of your guys looks like the heat is getting to him (or her) while on the road, or guarding a checkpoint, or stuck in some hot location for hours with your sniper rifle. Unscented (so as not to give your presence away in a combat situation) soap and wipes are in demand as well, now that most troops can bathe regularly.
All sorts of candies, nuts and dry mixes (iced tea, hot chocolate, coffee, Gatorade) are in big demand because they dont take up much space, or weigh much. With all the gear a trooper has to lug around, theres not much space, or weight allowance, for extras. With Summer coming, the troops want candy that does not melt easily. The troops do have microwaves, so microwave popcorn is always welcome. That means dry noodles (just add hot water) and soup mix are popular. While most of the troops are in bases where they get pretty decent GI chow, a lot of soldiers and marines are out in bandit country for extended periods, living on MREs. That means Tabasco sauce is in big demand (to give some of the MREs needed zing.) Troops also have a lot of electronic gear (for entertainment, and for work). Theres always a need for batteries (AA and AAA, but special sizes as well, find out what, scrounge it up and ship it over.)
Unfortunately, the military mail service kind of sucks at the moment. The troops, politicians and the media are trying to pressure the Pentagon to straighten out the slow mail and package delivery, but thats another story.