Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Grandpa, what did K-rations taste like?

Well grandson, they tasted like Spam and crackers for the most part. Sometimes there was a hard slice of fruitcake. Chocolate bites. Chewing gum. Instant coffee, instant bouillon soup and fruit flavored drink powder. And they always came with 4 Chesterfield cigarettes and a pack of matches... maybe to take the taste away.

In the 1940s, K-rations were the portable foods that the American soldiers carried with them into combat. They weren't designed to be delicious, or even particularly healthy. The Army was more concerned with giving its soldiers the energy to keep fighting. And it had to be light enough to carry up mountains or hiking through jungles. The K-rations came in 3 different servings: breakfast, lunch (supper) and dinner. But most soldiers couldn't tell the difference.

K-rations were produced by the Cracker Jacks Company and used a waxed paper box about the same size as their popcorn product. It was small enough to fit in a soldier's uniform pockets. The American soldiers quickly grew tired (even physically sick) of these ready-to-eat meals; whenever they liberated a town, (be it Paris or Manila) it was usually the first thing that they gave away to the malnourished natives.

And when you're starving, K-rations are the best tasting meals on earth.

Click on photos to see K-rations in all their glory.


  1. I remember finding some edible C-Rations as a kid in the 1950's We used to play soldier and actually eat the things. They were pretty awful. A bonus for this 12-year-old was the four-cigarette packs of Lucky Strikes.

    I'm enjoying reading "The Yellow Bar." I spent a little time in Manila as a Navy officer in the early 60's. Who can forget the bar of the Manila Hotel and that beautiful half-pinay stewardess from the Pan Am flight over from Travis AFB. What was her name?

  2. Well, you're still alive, so the K-rations couldn't have been that bad. Ha ha. I imagine flying on Pan Am in the 60s was a memorable experience too. Thanks for visiting!