Fifty-Six Years Later, Government-Produced Survival Crackers Still Taste… Awful
Watch The 4Patriots Team Taste Test 56-Year Old Survival Rations Here:
Many of our readers recall the Fifties and Sixties very well. It was a tumultuous time in our country’s history. The Vietnam War, college campus protests, racial tensions and political assassinations dominated the news.
But the thing that really had Americans living on edge was the Cold War. Threats of a nuclear attack against us by the U.S.S.R. resulted in school children practicing duck and cover drills. And families building fallout shelters and storing non-perishable food and water.
In response, one of the foods the U.S. government came up with was the all-purpose survival cracker. Due to its long shelf life, it was considered a nutritional solution for life after a nuclear blast.
More on those crackers in a moment. Including how they taste 56 years later.
Grandma’s Pantry Survival Stockpile
In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower’s Federal Civil Defense Administration launched a propaganda campaign called “Grandma’s Pantry.”
Every household was encouraged to have a seven-day supply of food and water available. Just in case an attack occurred.
Sears, Roebuck and Company displayed government-produced Grandma’s Pantry exhibits in 500 of its stores. They encouraged people to stock up on Campbell’s Soup, boxes of cornflakes, Hawaiian Punch, Tang, candy bars and other items.
Women’s magazines published articles with headlines such as, “Take these steps now to save your family.”
Doomsday Food Mass Produced
But the government realized these efforts would fall far short of protecting most Americans after a nuclear attack. So, they determined to come up with shelters.
And a “Doomsday food” that could feed millions… at least for a while.
This food needed to be nutritious and inexpensive. Also, easy to eat, shelf stable and reproducible at a mass scale.
Forget about taste, visual appeal and attractive packaging. The unspoken mantra was, “Keep it simple, stupid.”
Bulgur Chosen for Long Shelf Life
A 1958 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare resulted in the recommendation of a single food item.
Known as “bulgur,” it was selected because it is processed from whole grain wheat. Which is plentiful in the U.S.
Bulgur is nutty, nutritious, high in fiber and safe. It’s also not expensive and very palatable.
A government report at the time stated, “… a long shelf life may well be the single most important criterion for choosing bulgur in a stockpiling program.”
Doomsday Diet - Only 37 Cents a Day
The Department of Agriculture eventually decided on crackers as the best medium for bulgur-wheat rations in a bunker scenario.
Here's an image of the actual "Doomsday Food" packaging:
New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller said that a day’s worth of these crackers ran 37 cents per person.
The government called its creation the “All-Purpose Survival Cracker."
They tested these crackers 52 months later. That’s four years and four months. According to a report, there was a “discernable but inconsequential decrease” in flavor.
Taking One for the Team
Fast forward 56 years. We decided to acquire a box of these survival crackers here at 4Patriots. Just to see how the quality and taste would stand up.
When the box arrived, we knew we had received the real deal. On the side was the wording: “Survival Supplies Furnished by Office of Civil Defense, Department of Defense.” Also, “Civil Defense, Survival Ration Cracker… Date of Pack: 1962.”
A couple of our people volunteered to be the guinea pigs. Watch the video at the top of this post to see their reactions when they open up the container and bite into this Cold War survival food.
One of them described the taste as “wood-like” with a “paint smell.”
Another said the taste reminded him of what a Ritz cracker would taste like if it sat in the back of a hot car for about eight years.
Have a quick laugh as you watch their faces while they try to manage to swallow that first bite.
Survival Food’s Come Leaps and Bounds Since 1962
Long story short, we’ve learned a lot over the past 10 years or so about how to keep food fresh.
Take our 4Patriots Survival Food Kits. They are also ready-to-eat Survival Food, just like the government survival crackers. But one HUGE difference... the taste is great.
The freshness and flavor of your meals gets sealed in advanced Mylar pouches. Which is key to sealing IN your food’s ultra-long shelf life as well.
Plus your Kit is packed with real family-favorite recipes you can prepare in just 3 simple steps. Simply add boiling water, simmer and serve. It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish.