A field ration, or combat ration, is a canned or pre-packaged meal, easily prepared and eaten, transported by military troops on the battlefield. They are distinguished from regular military rations by virtue of being designed for minimal preparation in the field, using canned, pre-cooked or freeze-dried foods, powdered beverage mixes and concentrated food bars, as well as for long shelf life.
During World War II, food that was packed in jars and cans, dried, or condensed was the norm. Canned food was invented in 1804 when Napoleon offered prize money to anyone who could devise a new way to preserve food for military use. Also during World War II, several American-owned battleships contained vending machines that supplied cigarettes, soft drinks, and even ice cream, which were nicknamed "gedunk bars." Sea-bound factories were even established to create ice cream rations specifically for ships too small to carry gedunk bars, which produced 5,000 gallons per hour and even took into account the sailor's choice.
With the addition of combat stress platoons to military forces in the new millennium, the mental health of soldiers started to come into question. As a result, rations began including food that actually appealed to soldiers. The types of rations diversified in flavor markedly improved thanks to the use of retort pouches, vacuum-packing, and freeze-drying. Multinational forces of the 21st century have rations that vary by nation so that their soldiers can enjoy food that reminds them of home.
During the 1960s, Russian rations were apparently well known in the West as being very bad tasting. It was mostly made of beef and full of fat and oil (50%). The beef was similar to "schmalzfleisch" from German rations. It was suggested that they be heated with an oven or microwave. They saw use by Soviet forces in both Tselinoyarsk and the San Hieronymo Peninsula, the latter of which also came in two sizes.
Militaires Sans Frontières rationsEdit
Although rations made by the time of the Peace Walker Incident did a moderately better job in promoting stamina recovery, sometimes also being cooked by high-class chefs, they nonetheless still had a mediocre taste short of grilling them, with some soldiers refusing to eat them while they were cold, regardless of taste.
Besides making traditional rations, the Militaires Sans Frontières also developed specialized rations containing curry, preserved in specially manufactured retort pouches, and also had variants with more spices, and others that claimed to include tastes "beyond their time." The retort pouched curry rations were derived from American sausage rations at the time, and required a lot of trial and error to perfect, including adjusting the pressure and temperature during the sterilization process, and required a three-minute session in boiling water before consumption. During a conversation with Kazuhira Miller, MSF commander Big Boss once joked about creating MSF-brand rations, which Miller briefly considered to be a good idea. On one occasion, an MSF recruit enquired whether their rations included tea and scones. The French Ornithologist Cécile Cosima Caminades also inquired Snake about whether the MSF implements sweets in their rations.
Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land rationsEdit
- B1 Unit, containing beef, pork, ham and egg paste, tuna fish, chocolate, and crackers. The container was colored brownish-red.
- B2 Unit, containing tomato-boiled peas and meatball mix, potato-boiled peas and German sausage mix, potato-boiled beef and sauce-boiled diced beef. The container was colored green.
- B3 Unit, containing sauce-boiled sliced hams, chicken, and turkey, spaghetti with beef, turkey blocks, cheese and coffee. The container was colored yellow.
United States rationsEdit
U.S. rations were developed as a result of concentrated research within the United States Military's Cooking Laboratory, via a combination of meticulous attention towards balanced nutrition and calories. They were also freeze-dried via special methods developed by NROC (National Reconnaissance Operations Center), thus making them easy to carry and last for weeks at a time.
By 2014, the American rations had been voted the worst in a swap meet by the judges.
Rations during the War EconomyEdit
During the peak of the War Economy in 2014, rations were kept in square metallic containers with ridges on them. They contained all the calories needed for the day, as well as a variety of menu choices to break up monotomy for the soldier.
Views on tasteEdit
Roy Campbell once attended a United Nations swap meet that dealt with rations. According to Campbell, the judges claimed that French rations tasted the best, with Italian rations and Japanese rations coming in runner up. However, all the judges agreed that the worst tasting rations were American rations.
Behind the scenesEdit
Use in gameplayEdit
The Ration is a recovery item that appears in every game in the Metal Gear series. In most games, it restores a large amount of health when eaten. If the Ration is selected as the equipped item, the player will automatically use it if their health is depleted, although instant-kill scenarios (e.g. getting stepped on by Metal Gear REX) will still be fatal.
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is the only game that includes specific types of ration containers, as a certain type is needed to complete several puzzles. The chocolate in B1 units can be used to neutralize sulfuric acid puddles making them safe to walk over. Likewise, the potato-boiled meals in B2 units are used to lure a carrier pigeon down in order to retrieve Dr. Kio Marv's SOS note. In addition, because of the ranking system, the limit of rations can increase the higher Snake's level. When Snake is of ranks 1 and 2, the player can use one ration out of each of the three types of rations. Ranks 3-5 allow the player to use two of each ration type, Rank 6 allows the player to carry three of each ration, and Rank 7 allows the player to carry four of each ration. In the rereleases for Metal Gear 2, the rations were given differing colors to better differentiate them.
In Metal Gear 2 and Metal Gear Solid, rations could be frozen due to cold environments, such as the Zanzibar Building's freezer and the Shadow Moses underground warehouse. Frozen rations are inedible. These could be warmed up by equipping them for prolonged periods of time.
The Russian Ration appears in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which functions as a moderately filling food item. The CalorieMate is a similar but much more filling foodstuff as Naked Snake disliked the taste of Russian rations. It is also implied that Russian rations were flat out unappealing, as EVA expresses distaste towards them if fed them, and the attack dogs also ignore them after smelling them. In addition, Russian rations were also given a reputation within the West as being very bad tasting. Neither the Ration nor the CalorieMate count towards the various naturally-occurring food and medicinal items that Snake needs to collect in order to unlock the EZ Gun. In Metal Gear Solid 3, the Life Medicine has the healing function that the Ration had in previous games. Although not actually rations, various food items (barring Calorie Mates and Instant Noodles) often use the ration design to represent them during gameplay. Besides as a food item, Rations (and other meals) can also effectively act as a throwable weapon by equipping it to the weapon's slot, allowing the player to discard it.
Rations serve a similar role in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, where they serve only as a way to replenish the character's stamina. Also, it includes two kinds of rations: Large and Small. Its function to heal other characters is instead done by Medical Kits.
Rations returned to their role of health replenishment in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. In the latter, recovering stamina (referred to as Psyche) is instead performed with Mate Tea. During certain Extra Ops, the player can also cook the rations and can procure Rare, Well-done, or Burnt Rations depending on how long the player cooks them. If the player ends up roasting a Rare Ration, Kazuhira Miller will jokingly say, "don't quit your day job." The "Well-Done" and "Burnt" Rations also undergo some changes, being slightly curvier than regular rations at the top as well as changing color (Dark brown for the Well-Done Ration, similar to the Demo-Ops version of the ration, and black with white streaks for the Burnt Ration).
In every game from Metal Gear to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the Ration has a round shape (in Metal Gear Solid, Portable Ops, and Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, the Ration appears square shaped during normal gameplay, while the item window shows it to be round in shape). In Guns of the Patriots, the Ration is square shaped. In Metal Gear, the in-game sprite for the Ration is round, but its artwork the MSX2 user's manual depicts it as being almost rectangular with curved edges, a shape also shared by those in Peace Walker. In the "Demo-Ops" version of Peace Walker, as well as early screencaps for Peace Walker, the rations were depicted as being circular on the item menu, indicating that the developers originally intended to have the rations be circular instead of rounded rectangles seen in the final version. The in-game model of the Ration in "Demo-Ops", however, was identical to its in-game model in the final version, albeit slightly darker brown.
A MGS3 Ration was also included as part of the Snake Sneaking ver of Snake's action figure alongside binoculars. It had Russian on it. The label stated:
which translates to:
On February 9, 2009, Konami released six collectable "Sound Rations" available from dispensing machines around Japan. Styled to match the appearance of the in-game ration, each different Sound Ration emitting a different sound with the press of a button.
Metal Gear Ration LunchboxEdit
During the 25th Anniversary celebration, Kojima Productions released a specialized lunchbox based on the ration item from the Metal Gear series. It was colored dark blue, came in sets of three, and was adorned with the FOXHOUND logo.
Replenishes LIFE gauge."
- ―Rations description in Metal Gear
- "Restores a small amount of Stamina."
- ―Ration(S) description in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
- "Restores a large amount of Stamina."
- ―Ration(L) description in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops
- " A portable military ration.
Contains all the calories and nutrients a soldier needs in a day. A variety of menu choices are available, so as to break up the monotony of repetition.
Restores Life and Psyche."
- ―Ration description from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
- "Meal, Ready-to-Eat. Recovers LIFE. Select from Equipment window and press [R> to use. Automatically used if LIFE reaches zero when equipped."
- ―Ration item description in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
- "Undercooked Meal, Ready-to-Eat. An already unappetizing creation made worse by being undercooked. Recovers only a small amount of LIFE."
- ―Rare Ration item description in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
- "Well-done Meal, Ready-to-Eat. Makes a revoting ration surprisingly delicious. Recovers more LIFE than normal, and also recovers PSYCHE."
- ―Well-done Ration item description in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
- "Burnt Meal, Ready-to-Eat. The only thing worse than a ration is a burnt ration. Eating it won't recover much LIFE."
- ―Burnt Ration item description in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Notes and referencesEdit
- ^ Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Kojima Productions (2004).
Para-Medic: I see you've got yourself a ration. Rations are portable meals carried by Soviet soldiers. I've heard some nasty stories about how they taste. It looks like the rumors are true. // Nake Snake: Great... // Para-Medic: Hey, you should be grateful. Those things are designed to last. No matter how long you keep a ration, it'll never go bad. And they're surprisingly good for you, too. // Snake: I'd take a snake over this any day, even if it is a little rotten... // Para-Medic: You are hopeless...
- ^ Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kojima Productions (2010)
MSF recruit: I don't care how good they taste, I HATE eating cold rations! If only we could grill 'em up a little... Then I'd be happy.
- ^ a b Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (Japanese version), Kojima Productions (2010)
Briefing Files > Briefing Library > Miller > Special Items > Retort pouch curry
Kazuhira Miller: Good news, Snake! We've successfully invented the retort pouched curry! // Naked Snake (Big Boss): Say what!? // Miller: It wasn't easy. Our only reference were those vacuum-packed sausages they used for rations in the U.S. military. Adjusting the pressure and temperature during the sterilization process was quite difficult. It took a lot of trial and error to get it right. // Snake: These are the same kind of retort pouches used to package space food as well. And our staff somehow managed to reproduce this technology on their own? Humph. Not too shabby. Let me have a taste then! Just tear the pouch and... // Miller: Hold it, Snake! // Snake: What is it now? // Miller: You have to boil them in hot water fist. // Snake: And how long does it take? // Miller: Around three minutes.
- ^ Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kojima Productions (2010).
Kazuhira Miller: Hey, Boss, you mind if we powwow for a sec? // Snake/Big Boss: What now? MSF-brand rations? // Miller: Actually, that sounds – No, no! With all the men we have now, it may be time we started sending some of them to other countries.
- ^ Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kojima Productions (2010).
MSF recruit: Our rations include tea and scones, right?
- ^ Metal Gear Solid 4 Database ("Ration"), Kojima Productions (2008).
- ^ Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Kojima Productions (2008).
An optional Codec conversation with Rosemary details Campbell's trip to the swap meet.
- ^ http://kotaku.com/5366536/metal-gear-solid-peace-walker-preview-competitors-take-notes
- ^ http://www.kotaku.com.au/games/2009/02/metal_gear_solid_4_ration_sound_drops_perk_up_your_keys-2.html
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