January 14, 2018
I often go through strange cycles when watching YouTube channels. I like cooking videos, I like travel videos, I like videos about Japan. My latest obsession is MRE Review videos.
Why do I find these videos so appealing? They are a nice mix of survivalist mentality and food reviews. I think everyone has post-apocalyptic fantasies, and somehow watching these reviews make me feel like I am a little more in control of my future. The future may be bleak and filled with nuclear fallout, but at least I can pick what I’m going to eat in those weeks after the apocalypse happens. Vacuum sealed sausage maple patties and tuscan pasta in retort pouches for me, thank you.
My current favorite reviewer is Steve1989MREInfo. His videos are oddly soothing and relaxing. He can be both thoughtful and goofy. His go-to moment is when he says “Let’s get this all onto a tray”, jump cuts to everything on the tray, and says “Nice!” I think his reviewing is actually very thoughtful and it’s really great to see him excited about things like when he finds a 30-year old pack of Fig Newtons in good shape. I’d really like to hang out with him post-apocalypse. He definitely seems to appreciates good food, and him finding some of the MREs to be tasty and delightful is reassuring to me somehow.
The other aspect of these reviews are the vintage ones, especially ones that are more than 30 years old. I have to confess that there’s a little bit of trainwreck spotting with these. Reaction shots (usually more like reaction sounds) of disgust are to be expected when opening a 40 year old Navy ration that was improperly stored for most of that time. It’s also a bit harrowing, watching reviewers risk gastrointestinal distress trying 40 year old food. But I have to admit that even these are educational, because they note which parts stay good over a long period of time. Anything with too much fat goes rancid, things like hard candy soak up moisture in the air surrounding them. These are the MREs to avoid in the apocalypse.
Finally, I find a lot of comfort in seeing reviews of MREs from across the world. Seeing a foreign MRE is like seeing a snapshot of what’s considered comfort food in different countries. Some countries seem to care about their soldier’s rations more than others. I like to think about our soldiers out in the field, comforted by finding M&Ms in their MRE, finding ways to hack what they’re given into something more interesting to eat. Part of me knows that if I end up in an international refugee zone, I will at least know which foreign MREs are worth trading for (Japan, Australia, and Canada FTW).
Watching these videos, I imagine the manufacturers of MREs to be half food scientists and half cafeteria lunch people, but in a good way. “We designed the content of this meal to both appeal to homesick soldiers while providing them enough nutrition to get through the day”. Between the boredom of waiting, the uncertainty of everything, and the sudden bursts of violence, providing soldiers with the taste of home and some comfort becomes important. Food can be a bolster against all of these, and so making a good MRE is as important as anything else in the life of a soldier.
Anyhow, this was just my quick foray into one of my latest YouTube obsessions. I’m not really a doomsday prepper, but at the very least, I might be prepared and comforted a little bit in the case of a natural disaster.