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A field ration, or combat ration, is a canned or pre-packaged meal, easily prepared and eaten, transported by military troops on the battlefield. They are distinguished from regular military rations by virtue of being designed for minimal preparation in the field, using canned, pre-cooked or freeze-dried foods, powdered beverage mixes and concentrated food bars, as well as for long shelf life.



During World War II, food that was packed in jars and cans, dried, or condensed was the norm. Canned food was invented in 1804 when Napoleon offered prize money to anyone who could devise a new way to preserve food for military use. Also during World War II, several American-owned battleships contained vending machines that supplied cigarettes, soft drinks, and even ice cream, which were nicknamed "gedunk bars." Sea-bound factories were even established to create ice cream rations specifically for ships too small to carry gedunk bars, which produced 5,000 gallons per hour and even took into account the sailor's choice.

A FOXHOUND field ration.

With the addition of combat stress platoons to military forces in the new millennium, the mental health of soldiers started to come into question. As a result, rations began including food that actually appealed to soldiers. The types of rations diversified in flavor markedly improved thanks to the use of retort pouches, vacuum-packing, and freeze-drying. Multinational forces of the 21st century have rations that vary by nation so that their soldiers can enjoy food that reminds them of home.

Russian rations

During the 1960s, Russian rations were apparently well known in the West as being very bad tasting.[1] It was mostly made of beef and full of fat and oil (50%). The beef was similar to "Schmalzfleisch" from German rations. It was suggested that they be heated with an oven or microwave. They saw use by Soviet forces in Tselinoyarsk. Aside from the Russian Rations, the Soviet forces at Groznyj Grad also made use of local fauna as a food source within Groznyj Grad, including Vampire bats, Otton frogs, and Bigeye Trevally.[2]

Warning: The following information is from outside Hideo Kojima's core "Metal Gear Saga." It has some level of canonicity within the continuity, but reader discretion is advised.[?]

Russian rations were also in use San Hieronymo Peninsula, where they came in two sizes.

Non-"Metal Gear Saga" information ends here.

The Gurlukovich Mercenaries carried various rations, although they did have a tendency to rot to the extent of attracting flies.[3]

Militaires Sans Frontières rations

Although rations made by the time of the Peace Walker Incident did a moderately better job in promoting stamina recovery, sometimes also being cooked by high-class chefs, they nonetheless still had a mediocre taste short of grilling them, with some soldiers refusing to eat them while they were cold, regardless of taste.[4]

Besides making traditional rations, the Militaires Sans Frontières also developed specialized rations containing curry, preserved in specially manufactured retort pouches, and also had variants with more spices, and others that claimed to include tastes "beyond their time." The retort pouched curry rations were derived from American sausage rations at the time, and required a lot of trial and error to perfect, including adjusting the pressure and temperature during the sterilization process, and required a three-minute session in boiling water before consumption.[5] During a conversation with Kazuhira Miller, MSF commander Big Boss once joked about creating MSF-brand rations, which Miller briefly considered to be a good idea.[6] On one occasion, an MSF recruit enquired whether their rations included tea and scones.[7] The French Ornithologist Cécile Cosima Caminades also inquired Snake about whether the MSF implements sweets in their rations. Paz also stole some rations from Mother Base.[8]

Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land rations

Rations made since the Outer Heaven Uprising in 1995 had a noticeably improved taste and do a better job of promoting stamina recovery.[9]

In the late 1990s, the Zanzibar Land military utilized various rations in the field:

  • B1 Unit, containing beef, pork, ham and egg, tuna fish, chocolate, and crackers. The container was colored brownish-red.
  • B2 Unit, containing beans and meatballs, beans and franks, and beef with potatoes. The container was colored green.
  • B3 Unit, containing sauce-boiled sliced hams, chicken, and turkey, spaghetti with beef, turkey blocks, cheese and coffee. The container was colored yellow.

United States rations

U.S. rations were developed as a result of concentrated research within the United States Military's Cooking Laboratory, via a combination of meticulous attention towards balanced nutrition and calories. They were also freeze-dried via special methods developed by NROC (National Reconnaissance Operations Center), thus making them easy to carry and last for weeks at a time.

During the 1970s, the U.S. military utilized vacuum-sealed retort pouches for storing sausages in rations.[5]

During the Shadow Moses Incident, Otacon supplied Solid Snake with a ration alongside ketchup as a means to escape with the latter item.

By 2014, the American rations had been voted the worst in a swap meet by the judges, although Rosemary would claim that she liked them in response to Roy Campbell's story.[10]

Rations during the war economy

During the peak of the war economy in 2014, rations were kept in square metallic containers with ridges on them. They contained all the calories needed for the day, as well as a variety of menu choices to break up monotomy for the soldier.

Views on taste

The Soviet-issued rations during the 1960s were reputed to be very nasty-tasting, according to Para-Medic. It was implied that their awful taste was the result of their putting additives that ensured the food would be preserved for a significantly long period of time.[1]

During the 1970s, the rations, or at least those made by MSF, were overall mediocre in taste short of grilling them,[11] with some soldiers making clear that they absolutely refused to eat them unless they were grilled.[4]

Because of his then-girlfriend Rose's terrible cooking skills, Raiden admitted that he preferred rations to her homecooking during the Big Shell Incident.[12]

Roy Campbell once attended a United Nations swap meet that dealt with rations. According to Campbell, the judges claimed that French rations tasted the best, with Italian rations and Japanese rations coming in runner up. However, all the judges agreed that the worst tasting rations were American rations. Campbell proceeded to state this numerous times, with it being implied that he was subtly trying to state that he didn't like Rose's cooking.[10]

Behind the scenes

The ration is a recurring item that appears in almost every game in the Metal Gear series. The design for rations is generally based on the Meal, Combat, Individual ration (MCI ration), although various ration types were used in certain settings, such as the Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) (in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and to a lesser extent Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker). In addition, the description for the ration in both Metal Gear Solid and its remake Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty describes it as a Meal, Ready to Eat, even though its design is derived from the MCI ration.

Use in gameplay

The Ration is a recovery item that appears in almost every game in the Metal Gear series, exempting Metal Gear Solid V (both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain which had health regeneration) and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (although the latter game does have Repair Units, Repair Nanopastes and Electrolyte Packs that serves a similar function to rations). In most games, it restores a large amount of health when eaten. If the Ration is selected as the equipped item, the player will automatically use it if their health is depleted, although instant-kill scenarios (e.g. getting stepped on by Metal Gear REX) will still be fatal.

A canned ration.

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is the only game that includes specific types of ration containers, as a certain type is needed to complete several puzzles. The chocolate in B1 units can be used to neutralize sulfuric acid puddles making them safe to walk over.[13] Likewise, the potatoes and beans in B2 units are used to lure a carrier pigeon down in order to retrieve Dr. Kio Marv's SOS note,[14][15][16] and the cheese in the B3 units are used as bait to lure the venomous Zanzibar Land hamsters into the open so the player can kill them to clear a safe path to Dr. Marv's MSX cartridge.[17] In addition, because of the ranking system, the limit of rations can increase the higher Snake's level. When Snake is of ranks 1 and 2, the player can use one ration out of each of the three types of rations. Ranks 3-5 allow the player to use two of each ration type, Rank 6 allows the player to carry three of each ration, and Rank 7 allows the player to carry four of each ration. In the original MSX2 version of Metal Gear 2, the rations have the same green color. In the re-released versions, each ration is given a distinct color to better differentiate them (ie, B1 rations are colored brown, while B3 rations are colored yellow, and B2 retained the initial green color).

In Metal Gear 2 and Metal Gear Solid, rations can be frozen due to cold environments, such as the Zanzibar Building's freezer and the Shadow Moses underground warehouse, respectively. Frozen rations are inedible. These can be warmed up by equipping them for prolonged periods of time. The description for frozen rations are the same as the unfrozen counterparts in the former game, while the latter game has an added description stating that it is frozen and requires to be thawed beforehand.

The Russian Ration appears in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which functions as a moderately filling food item. The CalorieMate is a similar but much more filling foodstuff as Naked Snake disliked the taste of Russian rations. It is also implied that Russian rations were flat out unappealing, as EVA expresses distaste towards them if fed them, and the attack dogs also ignore them after smelling them. In addition, Russian rations were also given a reputation within the West as being very bad tasting. Neither the Ration nor the CalorieMate count towards the various naturally-occurring food and medicinal items that Snake needs to collect in order to unlock the EZ Gun. In Metal Gear Solid 3, unlike in prior games, the ration doesn't actually restore health, but rather restores stamina. the Life Medicine has the healing function that the Ration had in previous games. A radio conversation with Zero early in the game, however, indirectly alludes to the rations' past role as life-restoring items. Although not actually rations, various food items (barring CalorieMates and Instant Noodles) often use the ration design to represent them during gameplay. Besides as a food item, Rations (and other meals) can also effectively act as a throwable weapon by equipping it to the weapon's slot, allowing the player to discard it.

A ration as it appears in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.

Rations serve a similar role in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, where they serve only as a way to replenish the character's stamina. Also, it includes two kinds of rations: Large and Small. Its function to heal other characters is instead done by Medical Kits.

Rations returned to their role of health replenishment in Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. In the latter, recovering stamina (referred to as Psyche) is instead performed with Mate Tea. During certain Extra Ops, the player can also cook the rations and can procure Rare, Well-done, or Burnt Rations depending on how long the player cooks them. If the player ends up roasting a Rare Ration, Kazuhira Miller will jokingly say, "don't quit your day job." The "Well-Done" and "Burnt" Rations also undergo some changes, being slightly curvier than regular rations at the top as well as changing color (Dark brown for the Well-Done Ration, similar to the Demo-Ops version of the ration, and black with white streaks for the Burnt Ration). The label on the ration is similar to the Russian Ration that was included with the Snake Sneak ver. action figure.

In every game from Metal Gear to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the Ration has a round shape (in Metal Gear Solid, Portable Ops, and Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, the Ration appears square shaped during normal gameplay, while the item window shows it to be round in shape, and in Metal Gear Solid 3, the ration looks octagonal shaped during normal gameplay, while the item window shows it to be round in shape). In Metal Gear Solid 4, the Ration is square shaped. In Metal Gear, the in-game sprite for the Ration is round, but its artwork the MSX2 user's manual depicts it as being almost rectangular with curved edges, a shape also shared by those in Peace Walker. In the "Demo-Ops" version of Peace Walker, as well as early screencaps for Peace Walker,[18] the rations were depicted as being circular on the item menu, indicating that the developers originally intended to have the rations be circular instead of rounded rectangles seen in the final version. The in-game model of the Ration in "Demo-Ops", however, was identical to its in-game model in the final version, albeit slightly darker brown.

The Ration reappears in Metal Gear Survive as a stamina-recovering item, specifically for hunger. Its weight is 0.5 KG, its hunger recovery is 1500, and it does not restore any thirst. In addition, its perk is preservative, meaning the item will not degrade no matter how long it is not used. They only appear so far as daily login bonuses on Fridays, where two are issued.


A MGS3 Ration was also included as part of the Snake Sneaking ver. of Snake's action figure alongside binoculars. It had Russian on it. The label stated:


  • консервы-мясные
  • попитамины
  • консервы-рыбные

which translates to:


  • canned-meat
  • multivitamins
  • canned-fish

Sound Rations

Metal Gear Solid 4 Sound Rations.

The 2008 Tokyo Game Show/Kojima Productions Japanese website indicated under the upcoming merchandise section that they would be releasing sound boxes that were modeled after Rations.[19] On February 9, 2009, Konami released six collectable "Sound Rations" available from dispensing machines around Japan. Styled to match the appearance of the in-game ration, each different Sound Ration emitting a different sound with the press of a button.[20]

Metal Gear Ration Lunchbox

Metal Gear 25th Anniversary rations.

During the 25th Anniversary celebration, Kojima Productions released a specialized lunchbox based on the ration item from the Metal Gear series. It was colored dark blue, came in sets of three, and was adorned with the FOXHOUND logo.

In-game description

Item menu description
Game Item description for Ration Icon
Metal Gear Replenishes LIFE gauge.
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake Press the [Crouch Button] to recover life.
[B1 Unit] Contains beef, pork, ham and eggs, tuna fish, chocolate, and crackers.
Ration (B1 Unit)
[B2 Unit] Contains beans and meatballs, beans and franks, and beef and potatoes.
Ration (B2 Unit)
[B3 Unit] Contains sliced ham, chicken and turkey, spaghetti, cheese, and coffee.
Ration (B3 Unit)
Metal Gear Solid Restores life. Use by pressing [Circle button] while menu is open.
[Frozen] Frozen. Melt it before you eat.
Metal Gear: Ghost Babel Recovers LIFE.
B to use.
Keep one handy.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty "Meal ready to eat" to restore life. Press [Crouch Button] to use. Life automatically recovers when down to 0 if equipped.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes "Meal ready to eat" to restore life. Press [Weapon Button] to use. Life automatically restores when down to 0 if equipped.
[Frozen] Melt it before you eat it.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater/Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D "Made in USSR. Ready w/ Aim Button ([L]), throw w/ Attack Button ([R]). Distance varies by how long Attack Button ([R]) is pressed."
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops [Ration (S)] Restores a small amount of Stamina.
Ration (L)
[Ration (L)] Restores a large amount of Stamina.
Ration (S)
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Military-issue portable MRE (meal ready to eat).
Restores Life and Psyche when eaten. Open the item window and press the OK button to use. When equipped, the ration will automatically be used when your Life Gauge reaches zero.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Meal, Ready-to-Eat. Recovers LIFE. Select from Equipment window and press [Attack Button] to use. Automatically used if LIFE reaches zero when equipped.
[Rare] Undercooked Meal, Ready-to-Eat. An already unappetizing creation made worse by being undercooked. Recovers only a small amount of LIFE.
Rare Ration
[Well-done] Well-done Meal, Ready-to-Eat. Makes a revoting ration surprisingly delicious. Recovers more LIFE than normal, and also recovers PSYCHE.
Well-Done Ration
[Burnt] Burnt Meal, Ready-to-Eat. The only thing worse than a ration is a burnt ration. Eating it won't recover much LIFE.
Burnt Ration
Model viewer description
Game Model viewer description for Ration Icon
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Ration. A portable ration issued by the Russian military. This is only after contacting Para-Medic High in nutrients and designed to last without spoiling. But it's said to not be very good. This is only if the player found it and hasn't contacted Para-Medic yet. Not eaten yet, but it doesn't look very good. (if already eaten) But it's not very good.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots A portable military ration.
Contains all the calories and nutrients a soldier needs in a day. A variety of menu choices are available, so as to break up the monotony of repetition
Restores Life and Psyche.
Metal Gear Solid Mobile 'Ready to eat' meal. Use to restore life.



Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2004).
    Para-Medic: I see you've got yourself a ration. Rations are portable meals carried by Soviet soldiers. I've heard some nasty stories about how they taste. It looks like the rumors are true. // Naked Snake: Great... // Para-Medic: Hey, you should be grateful. Those things are designed to last. No matter how long you keep a ration, it'll never go bad. And they're surprisingly good for you, too. // Snake: I'd take a snake over this any day, even if it is a little rotten... // Para-Medic: You are hopeless...
  2. ^ This is implied when Snake's in the prison cell at Groznyj Grad after being tortured by Colonel Volgin, where the prison guard Johnny attempts to feed Snake by supplying him with a vampire bat, an otton frog, and a bigeye trevally in that order, with Snake tossing the food back to Johnny also resulting in a scene where the two make small talk and befriend each other.
  3. ^ This is implied with the Gurlukovich soldier at the Deck-A Crew's Lounge, where he is seen with flies around him, and disabling him and body-checking him will uncover a ration as the source of the flies.
  4. ^ a b Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kojima Productions (2010).
    MSF recruit: I don't care how good they taste, I HATE eating cold rations! If only we could grill 'em up a little... Then I'd be happy.
  5. ^ a b Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (Japanese version), Kojima Productions (2010).
    Briefing Files > Briefing Library > Miller > Special Items > Retort pouch curry
    Kazuhira Miller: Good news, Snake! We've successfully invented the retort pouched curry! // Naked Snake (Big Boss): Say what!? // Miller: It wasn't easy. Our only reference were those vacuum-packed sausages they used for rations in the U.S. military. Adjusting the pressure and temperature during the sterilization process was quite difficult. It took a lot of trial and error to get it right. // Snake: These are the same kind of retort pouches used to package space food as well. And our staff somehow managed to reproduce this technology on their own? Humph. Not too shabby. Let me have a taste then! Just tear the pouch and... // Miller: Hold it, Snake! // Snake: What is it now? // Miller: You have to boil them in hot water fist. // Snake: And how long does it take? // Miller: Around three minutes.
  6. ^ Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kojima Productions (2010).
    Kazuhira Miller: Hey, Boss, you mind if we powwow for a sec? // Snake/Big Boss: What now? MSF-brand rations? // Miller: Actually, that sounds – No, no! With all the men we have now, it may be time we started sending some of them to other countries.
  7. ^ Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kojima Productions (2010).
    MSF recruit: Our rations include tea and scones, right?
  8. ^ Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kojima Productions (2010)
    Date Paz
    Paz Ortega Andrade: I... I stole some rations from Mother Base...
    This is only revealed if you interrogate her five to six times.
  9. ^ Metal Gear Solid 4 Database ("Rations"), Kojima Productions (2008). [1]
  10. ^ a b Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Kojima Productions (2008).
    Rosemary: What's up, Snake? // Solid Snake: Got an update for me? // Rose: There doesn't seem to be any problem with your Psyche. So far so good. Proceed with the mission. // Snake: Got it. // Roy Campbell: Speaking of food, Snake... // Snake: Colonel? We're in the middle of something here. // Campbell: Have you ever eaten rations from a country other than the US? // Snake: Of course I have. // Campbell: The UN recently held a ration swap meet between military attaches from each member state. It was a momentous development in the cultivation of mutual understanding of other countries' cuisines. // Rose: Roy, this isn't really the time... // Campbell: On the contrary. I want you to hear this too, Rose. // Rose: I've already heard it a hundred-- // Campbell: You'll survive. Anyway, Snake, I did a taste test and found that French rations were generally the best. The Italians' weren't bad, either. And the Japanese stuff was much better than I expected. // Snake: Really. That's wonderful. // Campbell: But everyone seemed to agree that the worst rations of all were ours. America for the win. // Snake: All right... So what's your point? // Campbell: Yep, it must be nice to live in a country that knows how to cook. Those French rations... Delicieux! I wish you would have been there to try some, Snake. And, you too, Rose. // Snake: Colonel, what exactly are you...? // Campbell: Some of the best food I'd ever tasted, Rose. // Rose: I'm sorry, Snake. Ever since he went to that swap meet, it's all he can talk about. You'd think he'd never had a decent meal in his life. // Snake: No kidding. Wait a minute. Rose, who does the cooking at your house? // Rose: Me. Roy doesn't... What are you getting at? // Snake: Nothing, nevermind. Colonel? // Campbell: Mmm? // Snake: My sympathies. // Campbell: It's appreciated, Snake. // Rose: I actually like those American rations!
  11. ^ This is implied by the three grilled ration descriptions in Peace Walker, where both the Rare and Burnt Rations made clear they tasted even worse than a regular uncooked ration, while the Well-Done Ration managed to describe rations as revolting when mentioning that being grilled made them surprisingly delicious.
  12. ^ Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan (2001).
    Iroquois Pliskin (Solid Snake): Field rations are not just emergency food. For a soldier, it's a vital factor in maintaining combat efficiency. Rations are the result of concentrated research and development efforts on the part of the U.S. Military's Cooking Laboratory. Together with calories, meticulous attention is focused on balanced nutrition. Freeze-dried, the rations are easy to carry and keep well. It ain't home cookin', but it'll satisfy your nutritional needs. // Raiden: Hmmm. // Pliskin: What's on your mind? // Raiden: Well, just between you and me? // Pliskin: Sure. What is it? // Raiden: I prefer rations over Rose's home cooking... // Pliskin: That bad, huh?
  13. ^ Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (re-release), Kojima Productions (2006).
    Master Miller: You know, I'll bet you could find some chocolate in a ration. Take a look inside your B1 unit. It's got chocolate in it. Use it to react with the sulphuric acid. ...Over and out.
  14. ^ Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (re-release), Kojima Productions (2006).
    Holly White: Snake, about Dr. Marv... I'm pretty sure he's OK. // Solid Snake: Pretty sure? I thought you said you'd made contact. // Holly: Well, I haven't actually met him. He's under armed guard somewhere... But he sent a message by carrier pigeon. It might be some kind of clue. // Snake: A pigeon? ...Where is it now? // Holly: I found it, but it flew away just as I was about to catch it... I saw it heading up the elevator in the tower building. // Snake: Toward the roof?! // Holly: The bad guys are looking for it, too. We have to find it before they do. It's our only clue to Dr. Marv's whereabouts.
  15. ^ Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (re-release), Kojima Productions (2006).
    Johan Jacobsen: That's a wood pigeon, specifically trained to act as a carrier pigeon. Did you know there are over 260 species of pigeon in the world? They're 40 centimeters and are found from Europe all the way to South Asia. Dr. Marv probably brought that one with him. Pigeons are timid, and very sensitive to noise. If you get too close, they'll sense you and fly away. Yet for all that, they're notorious gluttons. They feed mostly on grain... I got an idea!! If you have some beans or potatoes, you can use them as bait! I just got myself a large order of fries myself... Oh, right. Tough to find a burger stand out on the battlefield, eh? ...Over and out.
  16. ^ Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (re-release), Kojima Productions (2006).
    Master Miller: WIS. OhIO... Try turning it upside down. They're not letters - they're numbers. It's a clue to Dr. Marv's frequency. But look at it. Only the H was written in lowercase. Its not a very clever code. Almost as it [sic] someone is telling you to read it upside down... O140.51M...Over and out.
  17. ^ Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (re-release), Kojima Productions (2006).
    Johan Jacobsen: Well, that sounds like the highly poisonous Zanzibar hamster. There are 1,183 mice in the world. Hamsters are rodents, belonging to the mouse family. They grow to be about 25 to 28cm long, and are found across northern Eurasia, and in Iraq. That variety was probably bred to be a house pet. House mice are very cautious creatures. They won't come out of their nest with humans around. Their favorite food is cheese... That's it! Cheese! You can use cheese as bait! Do you have any on you? Too bad you're not here. I just ordered a pizza myself...Over and out.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
    (link outdated/webpage unavailable) Archive: [2]
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See also