A Mystery Package


“I don’t know what to do with it. Do you know?” This is what my Korean friend said to me. His cousin had ordered American food off the internet, but when it came, it was so strange, he didn’t know what to do with it, so he gave it to his cousin, one of my Korean friends. My Korean friend didn’t know what to do with it either, so he asked me if he gave it to me, if I would know what to do with it because it was American food, and I am American. I hadn’t seen the packages of food before I told them I would accept them. I figured they were just box mixes because my Korean friend told me they were packages of food, but when I got them, they weren’t box mixes. I had never seen anything like it. They were military field rations. My daughter insisted that today we open a package and have it for dinner because she was curious.


I chose a big package that said it was chili with beans and cut it open. Inside the package, there were several packages, not just chili with beans. One package was labeled chili with beans. The others were crackers, cheese, coffee, fruit punch, napkins, sugar, non diary creamer for the coffee, matches, napkins, moist towelette, cheese pretzels, and some other strange things.


A package that heats the food without fire, electricity, or gas.

One of the strange things were instructions for the soldier to eat a lot so they wouldn’t lose weight. There was a kind of warm sleeve they were supposed to put the chili or the coffee in to heat it. The Koreans have these things they hold in the winter to keep their hands warm, and this heating sleeve looks like the same kind of thing. It heats with body heat. I am not sure what they are supposed to do with the matches except perhaps the maker of the package thought the soldier should have matches to make a fire in case he could do it safely and it was cold outside because there is no pan in the package for cooking. There were also two little pills with no instructions. The instructions for the coffee and the fruit punch said they had to chemically treat the water and let it stand for a while before they used those packages, so I figured the little pills must be for chemically treating the water.

(The fruit punch took 12 ounces of water, and the instructions said it was half a canteen.)

The cheese pretzels were tasty.

Since we don’t have to chemically treat our water or use the heating sleeve to heat the chili, I decided to heat the chili in the microwave and mix the fruit punch with regular water so we could try it. The fruit punch looked like Koolaide. I let my daughter drink it because she likes Koolaide, but she said it was a bit tart compared to Koolaide, probably because it was made for adults and not kids. She said it tasted good, though. I actually ate the cheese pretzels while waiting for my daughter to get home, and they were delicious! We ate our chili out of a bowl instead of from the packages.

The Chili After I Heated it in the Microwave
I made Frito pies by putting tortilla chips in a dish, putting the chili on it, and then sprinkling grated cheese over the top.
The Strange Snack Crackers
The cornbread came out of the package ready to eat and a bit crumbled, but tasty.

Since there was just one package and two of us, I made a kind of Frito pies out of the chili. There are no Fritos in Korea, but we have tortilla chips, and they are close enough. When I opened the corn bread, there was actually a piece of corn bread in the package, and it was good sweet corn bread. As far as the crackers, they were a bit strange. Neither one of us could figure out what was in them. They weren’t saltines, and they weren’t the sweet snack crackers either. Some other kind of grain or vegetable we couldn’t identify was in them.
I am not sure what the guy expected who ordered this stuff off the internet or even why someone was selling these packages. It turned into a funny adventure for my daughter and I experimenting with it, and it made a nice dinner for two. The military guys who have to eat field rations are eating something pretty good.

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