C-Rations The first Happy Meal

Posted on April 13, 2011


This information is for those who have only heard the phrase “C-Rations”. Those of you who know what they are tell us you favorite recipes for a gourmet meal. I will post them at the bottom.

“C” (combat) Rations has been the staple of the American Soldier from WWII through Vietnam. I guess you could call it the “Original Box Meal”.

This is just one sample. As you can see you have (1) the box your meal came in. Then the meal is broken down. In this case, cans 2 and 3 may comprise the fine cuisine and cans 4 and 5 may be the desert. Inside package 6 you would 7,8,9,10.12,13,14, 15 and 16. Number 14 was very important because it was your daily allowance of Toilet Paper. You also had salt, pepper, coffee and 2 chic lets to prevent you from having bad breath. I skipped #11 because the one thing they did not provide was toothpaste and tooth-brush. Oh Yeah, sometimes your got a chaw of tobacco.

The following were the choices of meals. Most of the time the boxes were turned upside down so you couldn’t see what you were getting. Most of the time you didn’t want to know. Here were your options”

Ham and Eggs Chopped

Beef Spiced with Sauce

Meat Balls with Beans in Tomato Sauce

Beef Slices & Potatoes

Turkey Loaf


Pork Steak

Chicken Boned

Ham and Lima Beans

Beans w/Frankfurter Chunks in Tomato Sauce

Fried Ham

Chicken and Noodles

Spaghetti and meatballs

You also were treated with such things as: peanut butter and jelly, cheddar cheese, pound cake, crackers, fudge bars and John Wayne Candy Bars.

Hot cocoa and soda crackers.

John Wayne candy Bars and soda crackers. The John Wayne Candy bars were prize possessions as was the Toilet Paper and matches. Almost all C-Rations were terrible unless heated so heat tabs or pieces of C-4 were needed.

Luckily for most Service men I Nam we only had to eat C Ration once a day while in the field. Others had to endure more torture.

No one has ever died from eating the C-Rations that I know of. We just thought we were going to.

My favorite meal was ham and eggs with cheddar cheese.

I thought some were pretty good especially the:

Spaghetti and meatballs,
Beef and Rocks,
Meat Balls with Beans in Tomato Sauce and
Chopped Ham and Eggs.

Those were even better if you had some hot sauce, time and some heat tabs.

The ones I really hated were:

Turkey Loaf
Pork Steak
Chicken Boned
Ham and Lima Beans
Beans w/Frankfurter Chunks in Tomato Sauce
Chicken and Noodles

But they all had one strong point…I never found any that were rotten if the can looked OK…I cant say the same for MRE’s.  I popped a bag Beef Stew open once and it smelled like a corpse.

I found a case of C’s from the Vietnam era a few years before I retired (1997) laying on a rock. There was almost no cardboard left just the cans stacked the way they were packed. Guess what after opening them we ate them and no one got sick. The pound cake was as delicious as ever.

C Rations housed in a Military Museum in Ettlebrook, Luxembourg

Posted in: Special Memories