An Old Piece of Bread

It matters not whether you believe me, as I’m certain there are many other soldiers – veterans, who would not only willingly vouch for my assertion and perhaps make similar assertions of their own:

I once ate a piece of bread that was eleven years old.

This 11-years-old piece of bread was a commonplace ration in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

It was a 1.75 oz. loaf of white bread baked in a can. It was an individual canned serving in a B-3 Unit of what was then commonly referred to as C-Rations but was actually the improved Meal, Combat, Individual.

This canned loaf of bread was date-stamped 1958 and I ate it some time in 1969 or early 1970. At the time, we speculated that the good ol’ Army was just emptying their warehouses from World War II; but, truth be told, they stopped making C-Rations in 1958; so we must have been getting an early run of MCI’s or Meal, Combat, Individual’s. Chalk it up to poor inventory control if you will.

The can it came in was about half the size of an ordinary can of peas – or about 8 fl. ozs. in volume.

When opened, the bread fell freely from the can as it had shrunk back slightly from the sides and ends of the can in the process of baking. It had a very thin, uniform browning or crust all around. Surprisingly, the center was uniformly moist and as white and fresh as any modern store-bought white bread.

Today, culinary artists often bake breads (and a host of other things) in open-ended cans if only for the esthetics or visual presentation of the resultant cylindrical shapes. The technology involved in the baking of bread directly in-the-can and sealing it for long-term preservation, shipping and storage has been in existence for more then half a century.

In sum: my assertion that I once ate a piece of bread that was eleven years old is hardly far-fetched.

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About The Twentieth Man

Age 67
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