Chris: Is there really MRE birthday cake?
Chris: Because that sounds like the Saddest Thing.
Ragnell: It IS
Ragnell: The pound cake, and then you mix the hot cocoa mix with only a little bit of cold water to make icing
Chris: Does it say something horribly depressing on the package?
Chris: CAKE (BIRTHDAY)
Ragnell: And you get a pack of matches, so you can stick one in the top for a candle but it's advised against because fire gives the enemy your position.
Chris: oh my god.
Ragnell: Umm.. it says either "Lemon poppyseed pound cake" or "marble pound cake"
Ragnell: And the cocoa says "Chocolate Beverage Base"
Ragnell: You have to trade for the cocoa sometimes, or the cake, but most people are cool enough to do so for your birthday
Chris: oh god i'm going to cry
He was not cheered up when I told him you could warm it up with the little heater baggie thing.
I double-checked, though, and the cocoa actually says COCOA BEVERAGE POWDER.
And for the record, the cocoa is armyproof:
DIRECTIONS FOR USE: ALLOW WATER JUST CHEMICALLY PURIFIED TO STAND 30 MINUTES BEFORE ADDING TO BEVERAGE POWDER. TEAR POUCH AT NOTCHES. OPEN ZIPPER, ADD 6 OZ WATER (1/4 CANTEEN CUP) TO FILL LINE. CLOSE ZIPPER. SHAKE TO MIX. SINGLE USE ONLY.
(Those exact words are on the DAIRYSHAKE POWDER, VANILLA package, except with CONSUME PROMPTLY (WITHIN 1 HOUR) added.)
All joking aside, MREs are an incredibly social food. Most contain an entree, a sidedish, a dessert, a snack, and a drink. Only one or two of these things will be edible to you (or you've gotten the only meal that anyone seems to feel is entirely good: The Chilimac. This is an anomaly, also no good for me because I don't like the entree--everything else on the menu rocks, though), the rest will either be disgusting or something you personally hate. You can, if you're hungry enough and alone, give up on your pickiness and just eat what you get. But I believe part of the point of the MRE (or an important side effect, since the main point was probably to make a meal that you could quickly eat a little bit of, work or get into a firefight, and then eat a little more of when the action dies down without it spoiling or spilling) is to build unit cohesion by forcing you to sit with the rest of your flight and trade food pouches to build an edible MRE (unless you got the cheese omelet, then you're shit out of luck. Though you probably will attract a crowd as it is such a legendarily disgusting entree that people will want to see your face when you eat it.)
I'm not exactly a people person, but I am a master at trading to mix and match the perfect field meal. The trick is in the candy. Everybody wants candy, so they're willing to trade the best beverages and the best snacks for a package of M&Ms or Reese's. This enables me to stock up on the beverage base mixes (they're basically Gatorade, which is a big deal for me when I'm worried about dehydration but so sick of drinking nothing but water) the WHEAT SNACK BREAD, which isn't sweet or interesting tasting, but is fortified with a ton of nutrients, is convenient to carry around and eat piece by piece over an hour of so, doesn't crumble as easily as the crackers, and mysteriously cures helmet headache.
My point is I don't care what the Captain says, I'm actually pretty smart. I figured out how to make a bacon cheeseburger this exercise.