Each meal provides about 1,200 Calories (1,200 kcal or 5,000 kJ). They are intended to be eaten for a maximum of 21 days (the assumption is that logistics units can provide superior rations by then), and have a shelf life of three years (depending on storage conditions). Some of the early MRE main courses were not very palatable, earning them the nicknames "Mr. E" (mystery), "Meals Rejected by Everyone", "Meals Rejected by Ethiopians", etc. Although quality has improved over the years, many of the nicknames have stuck.
The National Guard has provided MREs to the public during national disasters, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Ike. The large number of civilians exposed to MREs prompted several jokes during a subsequent New Orleans Mardi Gras, with revelers donning clothing made of MRE packets with humorous phrases such as "MRE Antoinette" and "Man Ready to Eat".
Meal, Ready-to-Eat in SupervolcanoEdit
When Vanessa Ferguson took refuge in a Red Cross facility in Garden City, she and the other refugees were feed with MREs the Red Cross had gotten from the local National Guard armory. Looking at the box, Ferguson found an expiration date eight years into the future, proving that even germs didn't want to have anything to do with MREs. Her fellow refugees joked that MRE stood for "Meals Rejected by Ethiopians" and "Meals Revolting to Eritreans".