Wednesday, February 26, 2014

MRE Review: First Strike Ration Menu 2 (Part 2)

Final Fantasy: Strike First!

I usually start these reviews with some background information, but I used up all the background material in the first part of this review, so... umm...

Hey, did you know the First Strike Ration, unlike a regular MRE, comes with a resealable bag that you can use for trash? Because, ummm, all that trash might attract bears or something. Or possibly because dropping loose trash creates a perfect trail for the Predator to follow. You know, on your way back to the choppa.

I really should have planned this better.

Chunk Chicken Breast
Tabasco Sauce
Beverage Base Powder, Orange
Mocha Dessert Bar
Caffeinated Gum, 1 piece (not pictured)
First Strike Ration Menu 2 Chicken

The chicken has some liquid sloshing around in the bottom of the retort pouch, but not enough to impede eating it while walking. If you want to wrap the chicken in the tortillas, though, you probably can't manage that on the go. Hell, I'm having trouble keeping the chicken in the tortilla and I'm sitting down.

The chicken itself is bland but inoffensive. I'm sure I could eat it all straight from the package, but the tortillas really help make something of it, since chicken breast doesn't have much of a taste on its own. Not that the tortillas are very interesting, but at least they add something different to the mix.

The Tabasco sauce is the real savior here. It's the only flavor that asserts itself. It's still a pretty boring meal, but the Tabasco kicks it up to one notch above zero. If I have a complaint about the sauce, it's that there isn't enough in the packet to fully Tabascocize this much chicken.

These issues aside, it's not a bad meal for an assault ration. It goes down easy, once you manage to actually get it in your mouth, and gives you a nice little shot of protein.

The orange drink is... orange drink. If you've had one, you've had them all.

On to dessert!

The mocha dessert bar isn't what I expected. From the look of it, I was expecting some sort of crunchy filling, covered in imitation chocolate. But it's actually a solid chunk of real, honest-to-Zod chocolate, flavored with mocha.

And it's really delicious, with a lovely, creamy taste and texture. Checking the ingredients, I see that it's made with real cream, real cocoa, real cocoa butter, and real dried coffee, along with the usual rogues gallery of chemicals. The artificial stuff doesn't kill the flavor, though. In fact, I wouldn't guess that it had so many artificial ingredients, if I hadn't looked.

Maybe I sound like I'm gushing, but this stuff tastes really good. It's as good as high quality, homemade chocolate. From the texture, I'd also say that they whipped it before pouring it into bars, which gives it a light, airy consistency. Whereas an unwhipped piece of chocolate gradually releases its flavor while you chew, biting down on this is a sudden burst of intense flavor.

Seriously, I cannot stress how great this chocolate is.

And, with real coffee in it, it even supplies a little bit of caffeine.

Not as much as the caffeinated gum, of course, which didn't taste bad at all, this time. In fact, it greeted my tongue like an old friend, familiar and welcoming. The caffeinated gum is filling a hole in my heart that I didn't even know I had. Now, for some reason, I have a sudden urge to restart work on all six of the novels I've abandoned over the years.

Let me see. When I left off novel number one, Galactic President Ro'bee'en was marooned on a hostile asteroid inside the Quasar of Doom, fighting off a horde of insectoid aliens while armed with only her trusty lepton knife... Actually, you know what? It's inefficient to work on only one novel at a time. I'm going to open six separate Word documents and work simultaneously on all of them. See you at the next meal!

Evening Pick-Me-Up
Beef Stick, Barbeque
Beef Stick, Teriyaki
First Strike Ration Menu 2: Zapplesauce and jerky

The beef sticks are kinda gross. They taste almost exactly the same, too, despite being different flavors.

Granted, I've never been a fan of beef jerky, if that's even what this is. It's suspiciously crumbly and flaky. Is beef jerky supposed to be crumbly and flaky? Because the only other processed meat products that have this texture, that I know of, are dog treats.

Ugh. Okay, here's a First Strike Ration pro tip: don't have that thought while eating the beef sticks.

And now I have this weird urge to chase after a tennis ball.

Zapplesauce is applesauce, plus table sugar, plus vitamin C, plus maltodextrin. So what the hell is maltodextrin? It's a complex carbohydrate (like you get in bread or potatoes) that absorbs as quickly as a simple carbohydrate (such as table sugar,) but is metabolized slowly, providing you with a long-lasting energy boost that kicks in fast.

At least, that's what the ad copy says. I haven't seen a properly controlled study that confirms these claims, and I frankly suspect that they're bullshit—that the performance boost of maltodextrin is indistinguishable, in the real-world, from that of ordinary table sugar. But you can't write, "Now with the performance-boosting power of ordinary sugar!" on the side of an energy snack, can you?

The taste of Zapplesauce falls just within the normal range of applesauce, to my palate. It's on the sweet side of normal, but it's probably not the sweetest applesauce I've ever had. There is, however, a bit of a chemical taste to it, and it's not from the added vitamin C. So it's either from the maltodextrin or the pouch itself. Kind of unnerving, either way.

You'd think eating it from the pouch would be fun, but it's a pain to squeeze it up to the neck, and the edges of the retort pouch are sharp enough to make annoying little cuts in the corners of my lips. So, basically, Zapplesauce fails to deliver on any of its promises.

Or maybe I just have inferior lips. That would certainly validate some of the things my ex-boyfriends have said about me.

Late Night Snack
First Strike Bar, Apple-Cinnamon
Regular Old MRE Gum
The Sweet, Sweet Ambosia of Caffeinated Gum, 1 piece
First Strike Ration Menu 2: First Strike Bar and gum

The First Strike Bar is still a solid, tasty menu item. Apple-Cinnamon isn't as good as Cran-Raspberry, but it's still pretty good. First Strike Bar brings the crunch, it brings the chew, it calls down the fucking thunder!

Sorry. It doesn't actually call down the fucking thunder. I don't know why I wrote that. Sorry. Sorry. I'm just a little loopy here. It's been, like five hours since my last piece of caffeinated gum, and I'm starting to feel strung out.

The regular MRE gum is whatever. Shit. Who cares? Let's get to the fucking caffeinated gum already. I'm getting antsy here.

Ah, yes, finally. This time, the caffeinated gum tastes like the most wonderful elixir you can possibly imagine. It's like my mouth is a holy temple, and caffeinated gum is the shekinah of heaven.

Oh glorious, divine caffeinated gum! I don't need night. I don't need day. I don't need air. I don't need earth.

I only need you.

Aw, shit man. That was my last piece.

It's going to be an itchy week.


If you liked this article, there are more ration reviews where it came from. And the first one's always free.

Fresh Hardtack
3-Month-Old Hardtack
Menu 16, Pork Rib
Menu 22, Sloppy Joe
Menu 23, Pasta in Pesto
Menu 14, Ratatouille (Vegetarian)
Menu 15, Southwest Beef and Beans
Menu 8, Marinara Sauce with Meatballs
Menu 20, Spaghetti with Beef and Sauce 
Menu 19, Beef Roast
Menu 13, Tortellini Vegetarian 
Menu 18, Chicken with Noodles
First Strike Ration Menu 2 (Part 1)

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