Once again my thanks go to Martin Johnson for helping me add tonight’s object to my collection. We have looked at a variety of ration packs over the years, including 1980s examples here and ones from the 1990s here. Tonight we move forward to the early 2000s and we have a full case of ten vegetarian ration packs from 2002:This is a large, and very heavy cardboard box and printed on the outside are details of the contents, in this case 10x 24 hour ration packs, suitable for use by NATO countries, OTAN standing for Organisation du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord (NATO in French):The top of the case has some pictograms; the club symbol has been in use since the Victorian era to indicate that the box contains food rations (its use dating from a time when many soldiers were illiterate) and a symbol indicating not to store the box in hot conditions:Inside the box are ten smaller cardboard cartons, each an individual ration pack:These cardboard cartons are also printed up, with details of who owns them, the M.O.D. and that they should not be resold printed on the lids:One side of the box has the range cards that are familiar to those who received rations in the 1980s:Whilst the base of the box has details of the different menus available:Previously this had been included in a paper slip inside the box, but now it is on the outside allowing the soldier to at least try and pick a box he might like without having to open one to read the list! The range of different menus is limited, when they were revised in the wake of operations the number of different options dramatically increased as soldiers reported getting fed up with the limited choice.
The inside of the ration pack is tightly packed with everything a soldier would need for 24 hours:Spread out it is clear that there is a wide variety of food in the box. Items include vegetarian cheese crackers, biscuits brown, a vegetarian all day breakfast and a vegetarian tikka masala, sweets and chocolate and basic items such as tissues to blow one’s nose or to clean ones behind with!All ration packs are hard to find, so it is especially nice to have a full unopened case of these in my collection and it helps bring the story of British rations I can tell a little more up to date.