Dr. Strangeloaf: A Survival-Food Taste Test

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Candwich.

In 1961, the Pentagon ordered 150 million crushed-wheat wafers to be distributed to fallout shelters and opened in the event of nuclear war. The biscuit, the New York Times reported with some trepidation, “tastes something like a graham cracker.” Since then, the selection of survival food has expanded with every end-times scare, from Y2K to 2012. A sampling of what’s in the well-provisioned bug-out bag:

 

ENTRÉES

AmeriQual macaroni and beef in sauce Meal Ready to Eat

This vacuum-sealed staple, beloved of American soldiers with no other menu options, comes with peanut butter, crackers, raisins, a toaster pastry, and an oatmeal cookie. Want vegetables? Go nibble some grass. Shelf life: 5 years (or more)

Mountain House freeze-dried eggs with bacon

After a month of chasing squirrels, you won’t mind the unnaturally yellow color, the flavor of liquid smoke, or the spongy texture. Shelf life: 7 years

DESSERT

Shelf Reliance freeze-dried strawberry slices

Like fine wine, this cryodesiccated delight only gets better with age. Shelf life: 25 years

KIDS’ MENU

Peanut butter and grape jelly Candwich

The “Sandwich in a Can” has a military-developed bun that other brands have yet to copy…for a reason. Shelf life: 1 year

Daily Bread freeze-dried ice cream sandwich

It’s got the Glenn Beck seal of approval, so you know it’s gonna be good. Shelf life: 7 years

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FACT:

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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