|The MRE burger, from sealed pouch to plate, is reportedly a favorite among soldiers, who will pay $10 for the delicacy, which includes barbecue sauce, squeeze cheese, and a mini bottle of Tabasco.|
Lisa Burgess, a Stars and Stripes reporter who has been to Iraq and other battle zones, checks the label on the sealed vinyl packet. Its a Meal Ready to Eat, standard issue for combat personnel in the field. They contain about 1,200 calories, enough to keep a soldier energized during the workday.
Soldiers in Iraq will pay $10 for a hamburger, she says.
A vacuum-sealed packet holds the hamburger patty, which is grilled and preserved with salt, pepper, and onion powder before its shipped off to nourish the armed forces. The bun resembles a couple of pita slices cut into the outline of toast. Theres no mayonnaise, ketchup, or mustard, but a cute little bottle of Tabasco sauce is included in another pouch, along with salt, instant tea powder, a couple of chewing gum tablets, a wet wipe, a napkin, and a book of damp-proof matches, which dont seem to have anything to do with seasoning the hamburger, but are always handy.
Once opened, the burger has an unappetizing smell, but a tentative bite proves its a real hamburger patty that tastes somewhat like wet beef jerky. If the burger is too offensive, the MRE comes with a sealed pouch of barbecue sauce and the ever-present squeeze-cheese with bacon bits or jalapeño, just the thing to spice up a meal at the front lines.
MREs can be purchased for about $62 per case on the internet. They come 12 to a case, in a variety pack that features two of each entrée, including ravioli, teriyaki chicken, and even barbecued pork ribs.
The MRE hamburger was not so bad, about on a par with an order of fast food in the civilian world. But its not so good that it would inspire signing up for another hitch. •