Youtube's endless sea of weirdness, part 2
Youtube can best be described as an endless ocean of bottled messages, floating along until someone comes along, picks one up and reads it.
With an estimated 819,417,600 hours of content hosted on the website, there is practically something for anyone. From cute animal videos to extreme sports and even episodes of obscure television shows, the spectrum is very wide. However, for every “Youtube personality” attempting to make it big and earn a living off of the video platform, thousands of people simply post videos about their lives and their hobbies, no matter how obscure or offbeat.
Such is the case with a user who calls himself Steve1989. His videos focus on the world of MREs, Meals Ready to Eat. A surprisingly diverse world beyond simple, portable rations, MREs have evolved over the last 70 years and are as diverse as the soldiers they’re made to feed. A member of a website called mreinfo.com, Steve1989 posts videos of himself unpacking and tasting MREs from all over the world, as well as those dating as far back as World War II.
He doesn’t appear too squeamish about what he’s opening up either, gleefully opening cans of food decades after their expiration date that any regular person would simply toss into the nearest hazardous waste container. While he doesn’t attempt to eat anything obviously riddled with botulism, like a 40-year-old can of ham and eggs, other items in these old MRE packages, such as sealed crackers, candies and cigarettes, are fair game.
Sure, there’s a theatrical element to looking at a 70-year-old MRE opened up and displayed on a mess tray, but there is an educational element to these videos as well.
Through videos featuring both old and modern MRE sets, one can see how feeding soldiers on the battle field has evolved, from simple menus of canned food and crackers to the modern 24-hour MREs with accessory packets designed to provide ample calories and nutrients to the active soldier. Beyond that, one can appreciate how MREs in foreign countries are tailored to those particular tastes. For example, a 2016 Norwegian arctic ration Steve1989 sampled included reindeer stew, while another modern MRE from Vietnam included a meal of fish balls over rice.
The older rations also have surprises. An emergency ration case originally stored on cruise ships included a Hershey’s Tropical Bar, a bar of chocolate formulated to resist melting in tropical climates, while in the case of a 1942 German officer’s ration, a disk Scho-Ka-Kola energy chocolate was included. The chocolate is known for its high caffeine content and was originally formulated for consumption by athletes during the 1936 Olympic games. He ended up eating it.
Youtube is a vast sea of video content that’s easy to get lost in. However, diving past the viral and mainstream content the service provides can lead to bizarre discoveries, like a hobby involving the display and consumption of military MREs.