Spam, Rations, and Shell-Shock: Remembering D-Day

Sixty seven years ago today, at 630 AM GMT+2 the world witnessed the largest, most widely known, and arguably one of the most important D-Day operations ever to be undertaken. The Western Allied forces launched a grizzly assault on Nazi occupied France, setting in motion an arduous war that ultimately freed Europe from the tyrannical rule of Adolf Hitler. The politics, world-impact, and moral-impact of this subject has been the subject of books and discourse for decades. Speaking of politics, I’ve been inundated all day all week with pointless (while often humorous) banter about a certain Congressman from New York’s 9th District and his inability to -er- control himself. Regrettably, this distastefully sad blip in the news landscape seems to have eclipsed the importance of remembering D-Day for what it stood for and all those brave American and Allied soldiers that lost their lives sixty-seven years ago today and in the following eleven or so months in the European Theatre. So, This Reckless Culinarian set out to highlight one human aspect of this, one of the most significant days in the timeline of Human Culture.

It’s said that the United States Army is the best fed in the world, that it “marches on it’s stomach” (or something like that), so what better way to humanize the events that took place almost seventy years ago than by giving a little thought to what made D-Day and the European War possible? That is to say: What did our brave warriors EAT while putting their lives on the line for freedom and Democracy? I did a little reading, and grabbed some pictures from Wikipedia and other sources that provide insight into the matter. Personally I would sooner starve than eat most of this stuff. That being said, I’ve never been trapped in a fox hole for three days. The food that fuelled the war effort is interesting to say the least. Consider the idea of eating canned “Chopped Ham and Eggs” from a K-Ration Breakfast Unit every morning. Then, go thank a soldier. MRE’s (Meals ready to eat) have replaced thinks like SPAM, the K, C, and 10-IN-1 rations of yester-year on the battle-field. I’ve tried a few MRE’s; I’m sure they’re not as bad as SPAM (something I will NEVER eat) but they’re still pretty yuck.

C-Ration 3700 Calories

(Breakfast Unit Pictured)

Attribution: Flickr user: <DK> ( ).

Note: The Vanilla Caramels and Old Gold Cigarettes were not included in B-Unit Rations.

The K-Ration: 2700 Calories

Breakfast Unit

Dinner (Lunch) Unit:

Supper Unit:

The 10-In-1 Ration: 4188 Calories

A pure exercise in efficacy and waste reduction, the 10-IN-1 was designed to feed ten soldiers for one day. I had trouble finding pictures of the 10-IN-1, but I did find an example “menu.” It appears to me that the larger size of the 10-IN-1 allowed for a bit more variety and therefore was more acceptable to the Soldier on the ground.

  • one pound of beef in broth
  • one pound of steak and kidneys
  • 8 ounces of liver loaf
  • 8 ounces of corned beef
  • 12 ounces of luncheon loaf (similar to Spam precooked meat product)
  • 8 ounces of bacon
  • 2 pounds of margarine
  • one pound of lard
  • one pound of fruit preserves
  • one pound of honey
  • one pound of raisins
  • one pound of chocolate
  • 2 pounds of sugar
  • 8 ounces of egg powder
  • 2 pounds of KLIM whole-milk powder (1st issue)
  • 4 cans of evaporated milk (2nd issue)
  • 2 pounds of coffee

Further reading:

  1. The Army’s Food Program

    Robert P. Patterson, Under Secretary of War

    The Quartermaster Review

    May-June 1945

  2. Rations in Review

    Colonel James C. Longino, Q.M.C.

    The Quartermaster Review

    May-June 1946

  3. Army Operational Rations – Historical Background



  5. Good Eats

    World War II Army marched on its stomach


Posted on June 6, 2011, in Food For Thought. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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