08 June 2006

Canned bread; not new, still awesome.

The internet is all a flutter about what the hip trendy kids are calling The best thing since sliced bread; canned bread! The original article touts the product as an "innovative product, intended for use as emergency rations."

Boingboing thinks this is awesome, and to be fair, there is some awesome in this article, but it has little or nothing to do with canned bread. What's awesome is that this is the product of a vocational rehabilitation project in Japan. A small group of bakers in Nagoya bake and can the bread and sell it directly to businesses, directing any profits to a vocational aid facility in Nagoya's Showa Ward to help with living expenses for disabled people.

Here's the thing though, canned bread isn't innovative, it isn't even a new idea. Canned bread was a staple of the C2 and C3 field rations, commonly referred to as "C-Rations",used by the US military since the early 1950s. In 1958 the C-Rations were technically replaced by Meals, Combat, Individual. The packaging and implementation were so similar that troops continued to call field rations "C Rats" until the introduction of the Meal, Ready-to-Eat, or MRE, in 1983. While the MRE was packaged in high strength plastic bags instead of cans, it too featured a bread item.

Both the C-ration and the MRE bread have a technical shelf life measured in years and a practical shelf life that's more accurately measured in decades. In 1991, while digging a fox hole during a training exercise on Fort Carson, my squad uncovered a can of spice cake marked with a date in the 50s. It was rusty, and dented, but otherwise appeared complete. We opened it and the cake seemed fine. To collect a $20 bet, I ate half of the small can of spice cake. I wouldn't describe it as "tasty" or even "desirable" as it was quite dry, but it was certainly edible and I suffered no ill effects.


Never teh Bride said...

Besides that, you can get canned brown bread in any supermarket. I see B&M brown bread all the time.

Ouroboros said...

I found a can of that in the local supermarket last week, the "plus raisins" style. I'm not a big fan of baked beans, but I'm thinking I should pick one up for the next time I go camping.

FFerrisFremont said...

how did I know that the moment that can was dug up you were going to wind up eating it?

Roninspoon said...

Brother, that's what I do. It's like my thing.