Meal Combat Individual  (MCI)

The purpose of this article is to provide the essential facts pertaining to operational rations, food packets, and ration supplements used by the Armed Forces. Current design data and operational use concepts are also included. In the interest of clarity and mutual understanding, the terms describing various assemblies of food components are defined as follows

A ration is the allowance of food for one person for one day as prescribed by military regulations. Rations are designed for group and/or individual feeding and must be nutritionally adequate.

A meal is a nutritionally balanced food unit consisting of approximately one third of the prescribed daily requirement of a ration. Meals designed for use in the operational ration system are engineered to permit inter-changeability with other operational meals while insuring nutritional adequacy. A combination of any three meals would constitute a ration as defined by Army regulations.

A food packet is a short-term source of nourishment in special operational situations. It consists of prepared foods, specially selected for maximum nutritional value, palatability, and stability commensurate with the requirements for minimum weight/cubage and utility factors One or more food packets do not necessarily constitute a nutritionally complete ration.

A ration supplement is a collection of food, beverage, condiment, or comfort items intended to add to the minimum essentials of a food item in terms of nutrition, palatability, and enhancement of morale.

Since the publication of Current Operational Rations1 in 1956, significant improvements in component design, and ration and feeding concepts have been made in order to match the pace of ever-changing military requirements. These changes have been accomplished through accelerated research in the field of food and packaging and the continual improvement of existing component items.

As we follow the evolution of the Armed Forces Operational Rations through the history of the United States, we find that from the Revolutionary War, through the Civil War, and on to World War I the basic military ration was composed of meat, bread, and beans. Changes were few and in the main were inspired by changes in the National food pattern-the increasing use of canned foods, for example. The soldier generally received his allowance of one to four days' rations at one time. These he either prepared by himself or pooled with those of a buddy who assisted in the preparation. That portion not immediately consumed was transported in his rucksack, or saddle bag, until the next meal.

The first of the Army Rations was established by Congressional Resolution on November 4, 1775:

Resolved, that a ration consists of the following kind and quantity of provisions: 1 lb. beef or 3/4 lb. pork, or 1 lb. salt fish per day; 1 lb. bread or flour, per day; 3 pints of peas or beans; 1 pint of milk per man per day, or at the rate of 1/72 of a dollar; 1 half pint of rice or one pint of Indian meal, per man per day; 1 quart of spruce beer or cider per man per day, or 9 gallons of molasses per company of 100 men per week; 3 lbs. candles to 100 men per week, for guards; 24 lbs. soft or S lbs. hard soap, for 100 men per week.

The ration for U. S. troops in the Civil War was little improved over that of the Revolutionary War. Added, however, were coffee, tea, seasonings, and potatoes "when practicable." This Civil War Ration was estimated to have cost 15 cents per man per day (in contrast to the Field Ration cost of 96 plus cents per man per day as of 1 October 1962). Preparation of the food and feeding of the troops, however, was accomplished for whole companies rather than for individuals. In 1896 an Emergency Ration was established and subsequently followed by additional special rations. In 1901 the rations consisted of the Garrison, Emergency, Field, and Travel Rations. These were reduced to three in World War I and were identified as the Reserve, Trench, and Emergency Rations.

The Reserve Ration was the standard meat and bread ration which weighed 2¾ pounds and furnished approximately 3300 calories per man per day. The Trench Ration was designed to feed 25 men for one day. The Emergency Ration contained three 8-ounce cakes of beef powder and cooked wheat and three 1-ounce chocolate bars.

The development of operational rations used in World War II, Korea, and in improved form today, began in 1934, when the Quartermaster Corps undertook the development of a ration to replace the old emergency ration. This replacement, subsequently designated the D Ration, was developed by the predecessor agency of the Subsistence Research Laboratory in Chicago, later to become the Quartermaster Food and Container Institute for the Armed Forces. During the period 1941-1945, 23 different rations and ration supplements were developed for use by U. S. Armed Forces throughout the world. The most famous were the D Bar, C Ration, and K Ration.

Military nutritional requirements and feeding situations have not changed basically since the days of Hannibal and Genghis Khan. Essentially, it has always been necessary to supply rations on the basis of (1) the individual, (2) the small group (squad or crews), and (3) the large group (company size or larger).

Conceding the foregoing basic feeding situations, it is found that modern concepts of ration design have changed considerably to accommodate the ever increasing demand for greater mobility and dispersion of combat forces. To assure utility under anticipated future combat conditions, all rations must be not only minimal in cube and weight but also in manpower and equipment requirements associated with their supply, storage, issue, and preparation. Requirements for nutritional adequacy, acceptability, and stability, however, remain relatively unchanged. To fulfill current and future operational ration requirements, off-the-shelf, conventional foods would be quite inadequate. Needed are foods preserved and packaged by new and ingenious methods. Consequently, the resources of modern science and technology are drawn upon all the way from design to finished product. New technologies have been brought to bear on foods for military use-for example, freeze-dehydration and radiation preservation.

To stay abreast of new concepts and techniques of warfare, rations and feeding systems are under the constant scrutiny of the military analyst. The military and civilian food and container research specialists are continually seeking component and design improvement as well as completely new and revolutionary ideas. As new requirements in military feeding operations become evident, or as advances are made in experimental work leading to new or improved items, ration and/or entire concepts may be changed to reflect these advances. Typical of the ration modernization program designed to improve the individual feeding situation is the development of the Meal, Combat Individual as a replacement for the C Ration (Ration, Individual, Combat). The Meal, Combat, Individual more closely fits the requirements of current operational concepts and has the desired flexibility of use compatible with those concepts.

To meet food needs under the various conditions imposed by modern land, sea, and air operations new approaches have been taken to insure feeding systems of greater logistical flexibility and simplicity. This has resulted in the design, for instance, of a system of nutritionally interchangeable family of meals. At the present time, by contrast, the major portion of available stocks of bulk and packaged operational food is designed for issue on the ration basis. To fully understand the advantages accruing from a system of nutritionally interchangeable meals, one must first consider the limitations imposed by the use of the ration system.

As previously mentioned, a ration consists of food for one man for one day and therefore must contain minimally 3600 calories as well as prescribed levels of the dietary nutrients essential to nutritional balance. An obvious limitation is that the entire ration must be eaten during the course of the day in order to maintain that balance. This means that one ration cannot be broken down into three basically interchangeable units as is the ease in the system of nutritionally interchangeable meal families.

It is the intent of this. booklet to place these rations, meals, food packets, and ration supplements in proper perspective with relation to their intended use and to provide current data on the composition and status of each item. To this end the reader is informed of (1) what items are presently available in the system, (2) where they are intended to be used, and (3) what items can be expected to be available in the future. This can best be presented by covering four broad categories

(1) General Feeding Situations; (2) Special Feeding Situations; (3) Survival Feeding;  (4) Future Feeding Concepts.

General Feeding Requirements. The need for an "operational" ration for the subsistence of the military man operating away from conventional field ration supply lines was recognized as early as pre-Revolutionary War days when our military action consisted principally of a guerrilla type of warfare on both the land and sea. As will be evident, most operational rations and ration components have been designed to fulfill a general feeding requirement.

The operational food items in this category--Ration and Meal-- were designed to satisfy the feeding requirements as dictated by the large group, the small group, and the individual feeding situations. The degree of flexibility allowed the commander in fulfilling his feeding requirement is determined by the type of operational ration available for his use.

Food items considered to fulfill general as opposed to special feeding requirements may be used by all of the Armed Forces --Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.

Special Feeding Situations. The various rations, packets and supplements classified and described in this group include those which, while authorized for use by all Services, are not routinely procured and stocked. Such items would, of course, be made available in the event of mobilization. Also included are those items authorized for limited or special purpose use, such as items developed to meet the specific requirements of one Service.

Survival Feeding. Survival food packets are used only in emergency situations. Since the space provided for them aboard lifeboats and aircraft is extremely limited, the foods are highly concentrated. They are designed to fulfill one purpose--sustaining personnel over a period of emergency.

Future Feeding Concepts. Changing tactical and logistical requirements have made mandatory the simplification of logistics. The new family of nutritionally interchangeable meals is responsive to this requirement in the area of food logistics. Fortunately, modern advances in the food sciences and technologies have made possible the development of high quality meals capable of rapid preparation in the field. Presently being developed are the Meal, Uncooked, 25-Man; Meal, Quick-Serve; Meal, Ready-to-Eat, Individual; and the Food Packet, Individual, Combat. These rations will eventually replace a number of current operational rations.
1 Activities Report, 7:10-23, 72-91, 170-179, 1955.  Reprinted as booklet, 1956
2  Present name:  Armed Forces Food and Container Institute.


The "C-Ration" was first developed just before World War II and was used as the military's primary "combat" ration until 1958. In 1958, the "Meal, Combat, Individual" officially replaced the C-Ration but the old name stuck. Soldiers didn't complain about having to eat MCIs - they complained about having to eat "c-rats".

On 1 November, 1939, the Adjutant General announced the adoption of field ration C. It consisted of 3 cans containing a meat and vegetable component, and 3 cans, containing crackers, sugar, and soluble coffee; it furnished 2974 calories, 114 grams of protein, and an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals.

The C-2 ration

This updated ration is described as an individual ration which consists of packaged precooked foods which can be eaten. hot or cold and it replaced the old C ration. It can be carried and prepared by the individual soldier. The ration was designed for feeding combat troops from a few days to an extreme of three weeks. Due to the required individual portability of this ration, maximum nourishment had to be provided in the smallest physical unit. The components of this ration were prepared in 5 different menus. Each menu includes an accessory packet which consists of essential toilet articles, tobacco, and confections.

The C-3 ration

The figure "3" in "C-3" represents the third revision of specifications for components of what was known originally as the C ration. This ration is composed of 5 full menus of a greater variety, and in addition to the new and improved B (bread) and M (meat) units, each menu contains an accessory packet, fruit, and cigarettes. The ration weighs 88½ oz., and is packed in 8 small cans; 3 of the cans, 1 for each meal, contain M (meat) components, which offer any one of 10 different varieties of meat; 3 more cans, again, 1 for each meal, include B (bread) components consisting of a unit of .5 crackers and 2 cookie sandwiches, a unit of pre-mixed cereal, jam, crackers, soluble coffee, sugar, cocoa disc, and another unit of crackers and jam. In addition, the C-3 contains 1-12 oz. can of fruit, the accessory packet, and cigarettes with matches. Field cooking equipment is not required. for the preparation of this ration. The C-3 ration is more adequate than the original C ration in respect to its nutritional value.

The C-4 ration

Ration, individual, combat C-4 has been developed recently, and is a modification of the C-3 ration. One modification of the C-3 ration will be the issue of 2-6 oz. cans of fruit for 2 meals to replace the 1-12 oz. can issued for one meal in the C-3. ration.

Toward the end of the Second World War a soldier's daily C-rations included two accessory packets. The cigarette packet contained a book of matches plus one pack holding nine cigarettes or three smaller packs of three cigarettes each. During the 1960s C-ration cigarettes were identical to the sample packs of four that tobacco salespersons handed out to the public. Pall Mall, Luckies, Winston, Salem and Benson & Hedges Menthol were five of the brands found in Vietnam era field ration packets. C-ration cigarettes were discontinued in 1972.

Meal Combat, Individual

The Meal, Combat, Individual is the first ration which has been adopted to meet the new subsistence concept of supplying nutritionally balanced meals rather than rations. It replaces the Ration, Combat, Individual (C Ration) which was used so extensively in World War II.

The Meal, Combat, Individual, is designed for issue either in individual units as a meal or in multiples of three as a complete ration. Its characteristics emphasize utility, flexibility of use, and more variety of food components than were included in the Ration, Combat, Individual (C Ration) which it replaces. Twelve different menus are included in the specification. Each menu contains one canned meat item; one canned fruit, bread or dessert item; one B unit; an accessory packet containing cigarettes, matches, chewing gum, toilet paper, coffee, cream, sugar, and salt; and a spoon. Four can openers are provided in each case of 12 meals. Although the meat item can be eaten cold, it is more palatable when heated.

Each meal furnishes approximately one-third of the minimum nutrient intake prescribed by Army regulations.



Development began in 1938 and was completed between 1941 and 1945.
Used extensively during World War II.
Issued as one boxed ration per person per day.
One case of C-Rations contained 6 rations.
Each ration was composed of a B-unit and a M-unit; total weight was approximately 7 pounds.
B-unit: (3) 12 ounce cans of bread, coffee and sugar.
M-unit: (3) 12 ounce cans of meat and vegetable components.
Limited menu selection [(3) M-units and (3) B-units]; many of the menus contained beans.
Intended for limited use but sometimes it was used as the sole source of subsistence for weeks.
Rarely were all of the components available so substitutions with duplicate components were
common. This exacerbated menu fatigue.
Menus were expanded in 1944 to include (10) M-units and (6) B-units.
Surplus C-Rations were used in both Korea and Vietnam.

Meal, Combat, Individual (MCI):
Replaced the C-Ration beginning in 1958.
Used extensively in Vietnam.
Evolved from the C-Ration (used same metal containers as C-Rations).
Redesigned food packaging to provide an individual meal rather than an entire ration
Each MCI weighed approximately 2.7 pounds and contained about 1200 calories.
Components almost identical to the C-Ration components but with more variety.
12 different meals per case with increased variety of canned meats.
Less monotony and menu fatigue



B-1 Units B-2 Units B-3 Units Accessory Pack
Meat Choices (in small cans):
   Beef Steak
   Ham and Eggs, Chopped
   Ham Slices
   Turkey Loaf
    Fruit Cocktail
Crackers (7)
Peanut Butter
Candy Disc, Chocolate
    Solid Chocolate
Accessory Pack*
Meat Choices (in larger cans):
    Beans and Wieners
    Spaghetti and Meatballs
    Beefsteak, Potatoes and Gravy
    Ham and Lima Beans
    Meatballs and Beans
Crackers (4)
Cheese Spread, Processed
Fruit Cake
Pecan Roll
Pound Cake
Accessory Pack*
Meat Choices (in small cans):
    Boned Chicken
   Chicken and Noodles
    Meat Loaf
    Spiced Beef
Bread, White
Cookies (4)
Cocoa Beverage Powder
    Mixed Fruit
Accessory Pack*


Spoon, Plastic
Coffee, Instant
Creamer, Non-dairy
Gum, 2 Chicklets
Cigarettes, 4 smokes/pack
    Pall Mall
    Lucky Strike
Matches, Moisture Resistant
Toilet Paper





P-38 Can Opener "John Wayne"

The Best Army Invention Ever

By Renita Foster

     It was invented in just 30 days in the summer of 1942 by the Subsistence Research Laboratory in Chicago. And never in its over 50-year-old history has it ever been known to break, rust, need sharpening or polishing; which is why many soldiers past and present, have come to regard the P-38 C-Ration can opener as one of the best Army inventions ever.

     C-Rations have long been replaced with the more convenient Meals Ready To Eat (MRES), but the phenomena of the P-38 continues to rise due to the 1,000 and other uses stemming from the unique blend of ingenuity and creativity all soldiers seem to have.

     “The P-38 is one of those tools you keep and never want to get rid of,” says Fort Monmouth, NJ, military policeman Sgt. Scott Kiraly. “I’ve had my P-38 since joining the Army 11 years ago and kept it because I can use for a screwdriver, knife, anything!”

     Master Sergeant Steve Wilson, Proponent NCOIC, Army Chief of Chaplains Office in the Pentagon, believes it’s the size of the P-38 that counts. “It’s a perfect inch and a half making it a great marking tool. Because it’s small, it doesn’t take up a lot of space, and that’s essential in Army life. The conveniently drilled hole in the top half means the P-38 can be put on a key ring or dog tags and go anywhere.”

     The P-38 became a strategic learning tool for West Point Cadets Rob and Ryan Kay while growing up in Gilroy, CA. Generously supplied with military gear by their father, the brothers spent many of their adolescent years decked out in fatigues, camouflage makeup, combat gear, and P-38s attached to dog tags to play “Army.” So the P-38 is as natural to me as my desire to be in the service,” says Rob Kay.

     The most vital use of the P-38, however, is the very mission it was designed for explained (ret) Army Colonel Paul Baerman, former Fort Monmouth Garrison Commander. “When we had C-rations it was your access to food, making it the hierarchy of needs. Then soldiers discovered it was an extremely simple, lightweight, multi-purpose tool. I think in warfare, the simpler something is and the easier access it has, the more you’re going to use it. The P-38 had all of those things going for it.”

     The P-38 acquired its infamous nomenclature from the 38 punctures around the C-ration can required for opening, and the boast it performed with the speed of the World War II P-38 fighter plane.

     “Soldiers just took to the P-38 naturally,” says World War II veteran John Bandola. A master sergeant serving in the 30th Signal Construction Battalion in North Africa , Bandola began his acquaintance with the P-38 in 1943. “The P-38 was our means for eating 90 percent of the time, but the next thing I knew we were using it for cleaning boots, fingernails, screwdrivers, you name it. And we all carried it on our dog tags or key rings.”

     When Pfc. Martin Kuehl stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day over half a century ago with Third Army’s 457th Anti-Aircraft Battalion, he not only carried several pounds of equipment, but a P-38 as well.  

     “I used it to open cans for dinner after that longest day,” said Kuehl quietly.

     Seven years later millions of these miniature can openers were distributed by the Army during the Korean War.

     “You weren’t going to eat any other way,” recalled Korean veteran Jay Welsh of Freehold, New Jersey .

     And while fighting in Korea on what soldiers referred to as Papasan Mountain with the 24th Infantry Division, Welsh discovered another vital use of the P-38.

     “A clean weapon is your immediate priority because a dirty one is not going to work,” said Welsh. “The P-38 was the ideal tool to field strip and clean the finger components of the M-1 rifle. So in a way, I believe that two-piece hinged device saved my life. It assured me I had a rifle that would fire.”

     Department of Defense Police Supervisor, Ted Paquet, of Franklin Township, NJ, was a 17-year-old seaman serving aboard the USS New Orleans amphibious assault ship during the Vietnam War. Its mission was to retrieve and transport Marines off the cost of Da Nang. On occasional evenings, soldiers gathered near Paquet's duty position in the fantail for simple pleasures like “cokes, cigarettes, conversation and C-rations.” It was during one of these nightly sessions, Paquet became acquainted with the P-38 or "John Wayne” as it’s affectionately referred to in the Navy.

     “I think the reasons I remember this incident so well I is because one of the marines and I got to talking about where we were from and it turned out we’d gone to high school together and I’d even dated his sister,” said Paquet.

     Paquet came home to Pennsylvania surviving 12 months of war, but not more encounters with the P-38. While driving down Route 60, also known as the Old Studenville Pike with older brother Paul, another Vietnam veterans who served with the 7th Air Cavalry, car problems suddenly developed.

     “There were no tools in the car and almost simultaneously both of us reached for P-38s attached to our key rings,” chuckled Paquet. “We used it to adjust the flow valve, the car worked perfectly, and we went on our merry way.”

     Christmas of 1969 brought a truce in Vietnam. Paul Baerman was then a wounded first lieutenant, whose only desire was to be reunited with his platoon in time for this highly coveted holiday. His wish was granted, and it remains one of the most memorable times in his military career.

     “One of my soldiers received one of those tacky, evergreen foil trees. It didn’t come with anything so we mounted it on top of a 50-caiber machine gun on an armored vehicle, and decorated with brass shells from ammunition, C-ration cans, and of course, P-38s. They were a little dull, but that hole made it a perfect hanging ornaments. So whenever I see that little can opener, I think of being there with them in 70 to 80 degree weather, and singing carols around a P-38 decorated Christmas tree.”

     It’s nostalgic memories like Baerman’s that best depict he sentimental attachment many soldiers came to feel for the P-38.

     When John Bandola attached his first and only P-38 to his key ring that particular day half a century ago, it accompanied him to Anzio, Salerno, and northern Italy. It was with him when World War II ended, and it’s with him now.

     “This P-38is a symbol of my life back then,” reminisced Bandola. “The Army, the training, my fellow soldiers, all the those incredible times we shared during a world war.”

     Because the P-38 represents such a significant part of Bandola’s life, he plans to leave it to his son and grandson. It’s a desire his wife, Dorothy, understands perfectly. “Every time they look at that P-38, they’ll see and remember him,” she said quietly.

     Vietnam veteran John Koehler grins broadly when he proclaims the P-38 “ranks with your first girl and your first car.” Koehler, a resident of Howell Township, NJ proudly admits he put his first P-38 on his dog tags 25 years ago, and it’s still there. “The P-38 was part of my youth when I was learning all about discipline, accomplishment, and self worth as a soldier with the 101st Air borne Division. And it someone wanted it, well, they’d have a better chance of seeing God!”

     Ted Paquet’s P-38 is in a special box with his dog tags, a 50-caliber shell from the ship he served on, his Vietnam Service Medal, South Vietnamese money, and a surrender leaflet from Desert Storm dutifully supplied by a veteran nephew. No one's allowed to touch the box, and his wife has been given clear instructions to dust around it.

     “It’ll be on my dresser until the day II die,” swears Paquet.

     These attitudes of former veterans aren’t hard to understand says Steve Wilson. “When you see a P-38 you’ve carried since the day you enlisted, it means a whole lot. It became a part of you. You remember field problems, German Reforgers, jumping at 3 a.m. in the morning and moving out in a convoy. A P-38 has you reliving all the adventures that came with soldiering in the Armed Forces. Yes, the P-38 opened cans, but it did so much more. Any soldier will tell you that.”

     Information about the actual inventor of the P-38 has faded with the passing of years. So perhaps it’s best to fantasize about a “patron saint of Army inventions” who has been responsible for creating devices that enabled a soldier to survive in war and peacetime. There was the steel helmet designed for head protection, but proved ideal for washing, shaving, and cooking; the faithful, trustworthy jeep, guaranteed to go anywhere in any kind of weather, and the TA-50 ammunition pouch for storing those personal items soldiers just couldn’t leave behind.

     The P-38 however, remains the saint’s finest work. As one of the most perfectly designed tools in history, the saint counted on soldier imagination to spiral the P-38 into even greater heights than just opening cans. The P-38 was an item the saint knew a majority of service members would come to possess and share, and thus promote the kind of camaraderie and bonding all soldiers need and depend on. Perhaps this is what the patron saint of Army inventions had in mind all along.



During WWII when hungry GI's were ready to dive into that delicious meal of C-Rations, they used their trusty P-38s to open the cans. No it wasn't a WWII fighter plane or a pistol, it was an amazingly simple 1-1/2 inch stamped metal gadget that was developed by the Subsistence Research Laboratory located in Chicago during the Summer of 1942 and unbelievably in just 30 days.

It's official designation is 'US ARMY POCKET CAN OPENER' or 'CAN OPENER, KEY TYPE', but is known more commonly by its nickname which it supposedly acquired from the 38 punctures required to open a C-Ration can. It's also known as a "John Wayne" by many because the story goes is that he demonstrated using them in a WWII training film, so when soldiers would ask for one if they forgot the name they would ask for a "John Wayne". Originally they came in individual paper packets with the directions how to use printed on it, and about a dozen came packed with a case of C-Rations. Unopened Vietnam era vintage P-38s still in their original paper wrapper are hard to find so if you find one resist the temptation to open it. These handy little gadgets have adorned dog tag chains and key rings ever since.


    How to make a C-Ration Stove

    The small cans included in the meal were ideal for making a stove. Using a "John Wayne" pierce a series of closely spaced holes around the top and bottom rims of the can. This stove was satisfactory, but did not allow enough oxygen to enter which caused incomplete burning of the blue Trioxin heat tablet, causing fumes which  irritated the eyes and respiratory tract. A whole heat tab had to be used.

    A better stove was created by simply using the can opener end of a "church key" (a flat metal device designed to open soft drink and beer containers with a bottle opener on one end and can opener on the other commonly used before the invention of the pull tab and screw-off bottle top) to puncture triangular holes around the top and bottom rims of the can which resulted in a hotter fire and much less fumes. With this type of stove only half a Trioxin heat tab was needed to heat the meal and then the other half could be used to heat water for coffee or cocoa. A small chunk of C-4 explosive could also be  substituted for the Trioxin tablet for faster heating. It would burn hotter and was much better for heating water.
    A stove was usually carried in the back pack or cargo pocket and used repeatedly until the metal began to fail.

    How to Heat a C-Ration Meal

  • Choose the meal to be consumed
  • Open the can lid leaving at least 1/4 inch metal attached
  • Bend the still attached lid so that the inside of the can lid is facing 180 degrees from it's  original position (inside up).
  • Bend the edges of the can to form a handle
  • Set meal on stove and heat to desired temperature, stirring frequently to prevent burning.

    "Outstanding" Ham & Mothers

    • Open and heat a can of Ham and Lima Beans
    • When hot, add one can of cheese spread and stir until all cheese is melted.
    • Crumble 4 crackers into the mixture and blend thoroughly.
    • Eat when the crackers have absorbed all excess moisture.


    How to make a  C-Ration Coffee Cup

  1. Obtain the B (large, dry) can from the C-ration meal 
  2. Follow steps 2 thru 4 in How to Heat a C-Ration Meal above.

Deluxe (reusable) Version*

  1. Remove the top of the can completely.
  2. Obtain 2 lengths of the bailing wire off of the C-Ration case.
  3. Obtain a solid, sturdy stick about 4 inches long.
  4. Notch out a groove around the stick near both ends.
  5. Wrap each length of wire around both top & bottom ends of the can and twist the wire around itself leaving enough twisted wire to twist around the grooves in both ends of the stick 1 inch from the can creating a very nice handle.
  6. Trim off excess wire.



Long Range Patrol Rations

Natick Labs designed the Long Range Patrol (LRP) food packet for long-range reconnaissance troops, who found the standard C-Ration to be too heavy. The packets weighed 11oz, approximately a third of the weight of the c-rations, and were available in eight different menus. The rations, which were first issued in 1964, consisted of a pre-cooked freeze-dried main meal in a reconstitution package and contained approximately 1,100 calories. Though the meals were intended to be hydrated, they could be eaten dry if necessary. The original Food Packet, Long Range Patrol, was popular with soldiers of the Vietnam War. The LRP was designed for troops in operations without resupply for up to 10 days issued at one or two packets for each soldier per day.

A special study of Meal, Uncooked, 25-Man; Packet, Long-Range Patrol; and 'M' Packet was conducted in Vietnam. The purpose of the study was to determine the suitability of these rations for use by the Army under tactical conditions found in Vietnam. Combat, Combat Support, and Combat Service Support units were used for the functional suitability evaluations. Eight shortcomings were found in the 25-Man Meal, one in the 'M' Packet, and one the the LRP Packet. It was concluded that no conclusive statement can be made as to the suitability of the 25-Man Meal for use by the Army and that the 'M' and LRP Packets are satisfactory for use during isolated-type operations. It was recommended that: 25-Man Meal be engineer/service tested after shortcomings in the existing menus are corrected and the full complement of menus is available; 'M' Packet be considered not suitable for use by the Army until the deficiency and shortcomings reported in the engineering/service test and in this evaluation are corrected; LRP Packet be considered suitable for use by the Army; and the shortcoming in LRP be corrected if feasible


"MENU NO.2 CHILI CON CARNE" Cottonduck Rubberized Aluminum package

"MENU NO.5 CHICKEN STEW" OD plastic package

"MENU NO.5 CHICKEN STEW" OD plastic package