Sunday, March 18, 2007

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Mayday Ration Bars

When I first came across ZS, I read lots of old threads in the forums, especially ones of food/gear/ of them was a review of Mainstay Rations. I bought some, and then bought some other similar rations, including Mayday Rations.

I'm 38, white, 6 feet tall, and weigh about 280 pounds...I eat and drink a lot, especially in winter or when I'm being active. One of the reasons that I was interested in conducting this test is that I have Sjogren's Syndrome, an auto-immune disorder which, among other things tends to give me permanent dry-mouth (so I was worried about how these bars would work for me, given some of the complaints I had heard in the past about their dryness).

The Test
I had known for awhile that I would be home for the day, as my son's childcare was closed for the day, so I elected to try the Mayday ration test on this day. I grabbed one of the 2400 calorie Mayday bars in the morning, planning on eating 2 each for breakfast and lunch (I'll save the other 2 for work tomorrow, and eat a regular dinner with my family tonight). The 2400 calorie bar weighs 18 ounces, and is about the size of a paperback version of "The Hunt for Red October" (4X7X1.5ish).

I opened the ration foil to a cool vaccuum release sound, and the first thing that I noticed is that while there are lines on the bar, they are not really setup for easy division. I used a cleaver to chop through the bar, it was easy to cut the bar along the lines (imagine something between frozen butter and dense banana bread in terms of density).

The bar looks and feels a lot like shortbread, although slightly more moist and dense. My first bite was a surprise...much better than I expected. The apple-cinnamon taste is not too strong, but it is pleasant. I was ready for a raunchy flavor hidden behind a too-strong flavoring, but that was not the case. It really is a lot like shortbread, but less shirt was crumb free at the end of the 2 bars that I had for breakfast. The bars went well with my coffee, which was something I attribute to the subtle flavoring of the bars. I was able to bite, chew, and swallow the bites without drinking more than I would have with toast or eggs.

My activity level for the morning was mixed, I watched some tube with Ben for awhile, cleaned the kitchen, stacked and carried wood for the next few days (we're going down to record lows tonight...-40 or so...without windchill factored in), and some snowpile climbing and sledding. I don't normally eat breakfast (just a cup of coffee), so I felt pleasantly full, but not sluggish while engaged in all of these activities. I was not noticeably more thirsty than normal. I was ready to eat again by the time Ben was hungry for PB&J.

I ate 2 more pieces for lunch, this time washed down with a coke and a glass of water. These two seemed more dry to me than the first 2 did, although the flavor still was not an issue for me...I just found myself more actively washing the bites down. By now I had eaten 4 pieces of the Mayday bar, for a total of 1600 calories (not counting my coffee and coke), and was surpised not to still feel hungry after finishing my "lunch".

I went for a walk with Ben after lunch, did some work while he took a nap, and then ventured into the garage to organize/shift some crap around in the cold (just to get some physical exercise in while Ben made up games in front of the garage. I had a tight feeling belly through the afternoon, not hungry, not full...but when we came in a 4:15 to grab a snack for Ben, I had some too.

All in all, I feel that the experiment was a success. I feel confident having Mayday Rations in my BOB, and as a part of my SHTF-planning. I know that i can eat them, and that they will give me essentially everything that I need in a small package.

Manufacturer's Claims VS My Opinions
Mayday Rations (2400 calories) Key Benefits

5 year Shelf Life
I like knowing that these ration bars will be good until the end of 2011...they'd probably be good past then, but I'll rotate them out through camping trips or whatever before then...

Non-Thirst Provoking
You need water to eat these things, but not as much as I had thought...I think the big thing is that without enough water to properly digest them, you might end up with clogged pipes...plan on having water when you are counting on these for food...

Withstands Wide Temperature Extremes… -22° F to 149°F
These ration bars do not have the stated temperature range of Mainstay Rations...I can't imagine why, as the ingredients list seems pretty close, but they don't...

Contains no cholesterol or tropical oils.
Cool, although that won't be my primary worry if I'm in a situation where I'm eating these things for a week...

Meets the US Coast Guard (160.046/31/0) & SOLAS 74/83 standards
I don't know what it all means, but it's probably good!

Enriched with vitamins and minerals exceeding the USRDA
1 bar gives you most of what you need in terms of vitamins and minerals (according to the powers that be), 6 bars give you the calorie minimum(2400) I would look for for a day of active SHTF living.

These are the emergency ration bars that I will be buying in the future. I liked the taste of these more than the taste of Mainstays, and they're cheaper. I found a website at which they work out to $4.07 each bar, including delivery...seems like a good deal to me. They last for a long time, don't take up much room, taste good enough to me, and will keep my body working in a reasonably good fashion. My sole concern with these as opposed to Mainstay Rations is the reduced temperature range, but it doesn't worry me enough to avoid them. Despite the non-thirsty propaganda, you should always have water with you in any situation in which you would need these rations, so have & drink plenty of water anytime you are eating these things.

I would, and will, certainly supplement these with some hard candy and beef jerky...if for no other reason than to stop me from going insane with the tedium of apple-cinnamon-flavored ration bars.