Just as civilians can now purchase MREs, to treat as emergency rations, some of the food in your pantry today for everyday use were once field rations themselves.  Innovation in food processing and preservation methods that began in the military was soon applied in the civilian world; thus, some of our favorite instant and processed foods, whether we are aware or not, were originally designed for the military. Here are three examples:

Canned Foods

Expectedly, canned foods were originally designed for the soldiers. It all started with the French government trying feed the armies of Napoleon. Meanwhile, the US army had its own problems with feeding troops in the field when actual field kitchens were unavailable or would draw enemy artillery by their smell and smokey fires. So, they adopted the practice and invested their resources to create a light and long-lasting ration. These developments were done either in the army’s own laboratories or in the universities they collaborated with. These findings were shared with food corporations in the United States who were equally eager to apply and bring out these innovations as government vendor contractors on the supermarket shelves.  At the height of the Cold War, Americans were laying away food in case of a nuclear attack and for the convenience of not having to go to the store every couple of days to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.  Science could now preserve these staples for years using heat pasteurization and vacuum pressure packaging in cans,

One of the first and most widely regarded canned dishes during WWII came from the cuisine of Italy. This was what the Boiardi family owned an Italian restaurant in Cleveland and shared their Italian family recipe with local families so they could cook it in their own homes. Soon, they began jarring their sauce and selling it all over the country and it was the best selling brand in the U.S.

When WWII broke out, the US military wanted their soldiers to taste this Italian goodness. Thus, they asked the company, now known as “Chef Boyardee,” to produce their food in cans as military rations. In 1946, Without going into the sheer numbers involved, Chef Boyardee became the largest “C” and “K” ration supplier for the U.S. military in WWII, which had a peak strength of nearly 13 million service members. Hector Boiardi was awarded The Gold Star for his efforts during the time of crisis. The award was one of the highest honors a civilian can receive from the military.  Nearly half a century later in 1991, during the first Gulf War, the most requested canned food asked for by service members was from,  you guessed it, Chef Boyardee.