Eating challenges are nothing new to the internet. A writer for The A.V. Club recently subjected himself to four days of eating so called “emergency food” and recorded his reactions. Nostalgia is common to the internet, too, as is a keen interest in military history. But very few have combined all three of these into one project, except for a brave soul who identifies himself as Steve1989. Steve, acting as an ambassador for a site called MREInfo (“Your Source For MRE Information”) has a most unusual YouTube channel in which he opens and then, on occasion, even tastes the contents of decades-old Meals Ready To Eat, some dating as far back as the Korean War. The MREs reviewed in this channel come from various eras, including a couple from as recent as 2013, and even different countries. There are pre-prepared, ready-to-eat meals here from Poland, South Africa, and Canada. Steve subjects them all to thorough autopsies. Cuisine is a key part of military history. After all, an adage variously attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte and Frederick The Great attests that an army marches on its stomach.
The obvious main attractions, though, are those musty, dusty MREs from the 1950s and 1960s. Curiosity seekers hoping to see a lunatic make himself sick by eating expired food will be disappointed. Despite his eccentric hobby, Steve1989 seems to be a fairly sane, rational guy who insists that he knows “where to draw the line.” In his videos, he refers to whether or not foods pass “the visual test.” So, no, he’s not going to eat rancid plum jam from the Eisenhower era. If the food has gone bad, he is upfront about saying so and is not shy about using words like “awful” and “rotten.” Still, however, there are a few pleasant surprises hidden in those old MREs occasionally. Half-century-old sugar is still sweet, and some Nixon-era jelly candies still taste pretty good today, even if they are a little stale. Or a lot stale.