For the American servicemen and –women on the front lines – those who will be spending the winter at remote outposts or on patrol in places like Afghanistan – “home for the holidays” is just a dream. That’s why a special military lab has stepped up to give them a little taste of home: A holiday dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet-potato casserole, and green beans. Hot sauce? That too.
The Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass., put the package together. It has to be rugged enough to survive being shipped to, and dropped into, where the troops will get it. There’s no chef, so the meal has to cook itself. And – oh yeah – it has to taste pretty good. (How good? This reporter has never liked sweet potato anything, but liked the dish served here.)
The package weighs about 43 lbs and can feed up to 18 warfighters. Of course, if you want to spread some holiday cheer to the troops, consider giving to charitable organizations that get care packages and letters into their hands.
Oh. And about that hot sauce. For years, the famous “Meal, Ready to Eat” (MRE) included a little 1 oz Tabasco bottle. It was the only glass packaging in the MRE – and it posed obvious challenging.
“But it was really the only packaging that Tabasco sauce wouldn’t eat through, because of its high acidity,” explained Jeremy Whitsitt, a team leader in the Combat Feeding Directorate in Natick.
“We had to develop, and work collaboratively with industry to develop, a flexible package that this hot sauce wouldn’t eat through. And a couple of years ago we were able to do that,” he added. “By doing that, we’ve saved the taxpayer a ton of money.”