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I found a couple of late 80s MREs with the dark brown plastic bags. My friend saw them and remarked that it was too bad they are no good anymore. I was familiar with these from my service in the USMC in the late 80s and the AZ Army National Guard through the 90s.

I was curious so I decided to risk my gut and find out if this was still edible after all these years. So I opened up one of them. This one featured the "Ham Slice".

I was pretty sure the crackers would still be edible in 100 years, and the dry fruit mix may or may not be good, but it's probably not going to make me sick. The ham and the cheese seem the most dangerous, so that leaves:


Orange Nut Cake
Decided to eat this first. There was no sign of any bloating in the package, if anything had looked or smelled like it had gone bad I would have stopped right there. It had been a long time, but it seemed dryer than I remembered. These were never moist, but they seemed a little oily as I recall. It wasn't hardened, but while chewing even the tiniest crumbs seemed to be soaking the moisture from my mouth. Would have been better with water, but I wanted to eat it as-is. I can't say I enjoyed it, but I didn't like these much back in the 80s either.

I ate this in the evening, I had decided I would give it overnight to see if it made me sick or not. 2 hours later I was feeling fine when I went to bed. Slept normally and woke up feeling fine.




Fruit Mix
Although I was willing to try the other items at this point, the fruit mix seemed to be the most breakfasty type of food in the MRE. I ate it the way I used to like eating them, take a bite of the dried fruit, then a swig of water. No complaints, tasted as good as ever.





Ham Slice
Feeling bold I decided to try the ham for lunch. It didn't look that good, but it smelled ok. I took a bite and the meat just sort of crumbled apart in my mouth. The flavor was bland. I took about 3 bites and waited to see if there would be any adverse effects. Nothing happened, but it really was not pleasant to eat. If I were starving I might fell different.



Cheese Spread
Kneaded it as package instructs. When I opened it, it looked like half dry peanut butter and smelled like you would expect 20+ year old cheese to smell. I decided it was not worth the risk and did not attempt to eat any of it. The package was not bloated at all, it might have been ok, but I think I'd have to be really desperate to try eating it.




Crackers
These things are almost like Civil War hard-tack. They are bland, but they always were. Originally you were supposed to put the cheese spread (or peanut butter or a jam in some of the other MREs) on them to give them some flavor. As I predicted, these were pretty much untouched by time.




Other
Cocoa powder may have lost some flavor but it was ok. Everything in the accessory packet seemed ok too. I rarely drink coffee, but I opened the packet and I can't say it smelled like good coffee. The salt and sugar were fine. The cream substitute is not something I'd normally bother with. I stuck my finger in and tasted it and I suppose there's nothing wrong with it. Matches still work, I assume the toilet paper would too but I already have a roll.
 

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Y'know you're not going to be able to go to the bathroom for a week, don't ya?!? :grin:

Oddly enough, I did the same thing a few months back. I have some MREs still in the brown bag that I've had sitting around for years. I honestly can't remember where I got them, might have been in Bosnia. The wife and kids wanted to see what they looked like, so I popped one open.

My results were about the same, the food wasn't spoiled but it was old and tasteless. Some of the candy had melted and other bits had either hardened to the point of not being able to eat it or it just looked bad.

Luckily, I have a couple of cases of newer MREs that are about a year or so old that I picked up from a bud. Not sure if/when I'll ever use 'em, I was considering tossing 'em in the Jeep but I think that would cause them to spoil even faster. For the time being, I just keep them stashed away in a closet...

Cheers! M2
 

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Dude... I got the heeby jeebies just looking at those pictures!

I thought for sure the orange nut cake ( :nutkick: ) was bad.

How was the gum? :mrgreen:
 

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No way I'd eat that ham! Hell, I avoided it like the plague in the 80's. That, and the hot dogs in gelatin, the tuna, and chicken ala king. I guess I was hungry a lot back in the 80's.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
10Gauge said:
Dude... I got the heeby jeebies just looking at those pictures!

I thought for sure the orange nut cake ( :nutkick: ) was bad.

How was the gum? :mrgreen:
Those nutcakes never looked too good to begin with.

Gum was fine, I thought it might have gone hard, but it was good as new.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
majormadmax said:
Y'know you're not going to be able to go to the bathroom for a week, don't ya?!? :grin:
I was a bit worried I might have had the opposite problem. But, everything worked out in the end.

I have a couple of cases of newer MREs that are about a year or so old that I picked up from a bud. Not sure if/when I'll ever use 'em, I was considering tossing 'em in the Jeep but I think that would cause them to spoil even faster. For the time being, I just keep them stashed away in a closet...
The lesson here is eat those MREs before they get this old. They'll keep for years, but they have their limits.
But, if it's all you got, they probably won't kill you. The crackers and dried fruit at least would probably be good even longer.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
scapegoat762 said:
the hot dogs in gelatin, the tuna, and chicken ala king
I hated those. I used to like the ham slice, but this one was way past its prime.

I used to really like the dehydrated beef patty though, most other people didn't so I could usually trade one of the ones I didn't like for that.
 

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I commend your testicular fortitude sir. I have yet to consume an MRE since EAS and I am trying to keep it that way. The worst was the MRE chefs every platoon had and their concoctions...
 

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You have some balls! I'm surprised the ham slice was edible at all, but not about the crackers. Oddly enough, I've always liked them.
 

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YIKES!!!!! I ate a bunch of them when i was a kid, somehow they just showed up at the house by the case after dad came home from summer camp and drill :smile: . If you really want to test your gut try the tuna with noodles with that age on it!! :puke: the crackers could probably last another 50 years i would think. I think the only ones i wouldnt eat was the omlet with ham( double barf even if it was fresh), tuna with noodles, potatoes au rotten, and the chicken ala king. I liked the chicken stew and beef stew and would try to stash them away for hunting trips.
 

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Wow, I could literally taste the orange nut cake and smell the crackers as if it were the 80s again... For me, the crackers were best with one of the jelly packs. I think the ham slice is why we started getting little Tabasco bottles. Fruit mix in the canteen cup with a little water...those were the days! Thanks for the post!
 

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When I was a kid back in the early eighties I found an MRE stash my grandfather had(He was Army).
They were all in cans,I asked if I could try them out,he opened them said they looked fine,taste was ok and I didnt get sick,who knows how old they were.
 

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Young troops always complained about MREs, but they were ambrosia compared to some C-Rations I had when I was on Active Duty in the 70s - and even they weren't that bad. I never had an MRE until I got into the National Guard in the mid-80s. On the other hand, my father and father-in-law described K-rations from WWII in rather unfavorable terms. Perhaps they were used to better cooking than I experienced before I got into the Army . . .
 

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The best thing about C-Rations were that you could probobly beat an enemy to death with a can of Beef and Potatoes.
Crush the crackers, pick through the meat and add the potatoes and you have some soft of bad Dinny Moore Beef Stew.
MRE's were a pleasent alternative and have gotten better over the years.
I remember pulling a C-Rat out of a box that was dated 1954 in 1981. My only thought was "My Dad could have eaten this."
 

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You're the man. The ham slice MRE wasn't even good fresh! Those were one of the ones that were always traded, or left in the box.

I'm a foodie and that translates to military "food" as well. One of my biggest things is trying the rations of foreign nations. Having not done anything cool or spectacular while in the service, I never got to serve with any foreign troops, played with their guns, equipment, or ate their food. Thus, I'm always on the hunt on eBay and other sites for foreign MREs. I have a Lithuanian MRE from the 90s that I've been debating whether it is still good or not. Firstly, I don't know what normal Lithuanian food even is so that makes it a challenge alone. When I decide to do it, I'll see if I can post a photo review.
 

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I could never eat the brownie.:puke:I did like the cheese & crackers. So much I guess that I was told they could smell me coming (must have been that cheese).:fart:
 

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I miss the John Wayne bars...they were my favorite. I have a good friend who several years ago thought it would be cool to eat some 70's dated C rats. He must have eaten the entire case. I did have some of the crackers. Anyway, he was fine after eating them. I still have some 80's or early 90's MRE's. I'll keep them as my last resort rations.
 

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A bunch of fellows and I had a winter camp-out, and shooting meet one weekend a few years back, and I brought an old dark brown pack MRE. I think it was from 1987. Anyhow another fellow offered me a modern one for it because he wanted to see how well the older ones held up. We shared it out, and if I remember everything was eatable except the applesauce which had a strong acidic taste.
 
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