In 2008 the U.S. military issued three new designs for their MRE (Meals, Ready to Eat) packaging. The MRE packaging redesign was the culmination of a decade of research and testing of “soldier/consumer” preferences.
The result was not exactly a unified brand identity. There are 3 different type treatments and one design features a graphic silhouette of soldiers sitting with stacked arms.
Nonetheless, there are some elements shared by all three packs, including the memorable tagline: “Warfighter Recommended, Warfighter Tested, Warfighter Approved™”
Noting that “packaging plays a psychological role in forming a Warfighter’s opinion of the food inside,” the Pentagon redesigned MRE bags in 2008.
Aboxalypse Now, Elizabeth Gettelman, 2009, Mother Jones Magazine
Introduced in the military in the 1980s to replace C-rations, some of the early MRE meals were not very palatable. Some of the most notable of these received nicknames names like “Mr. E” (mystery), “Meals Rejected by Everyone”, “Meals, Rarely Edible”, “Meals Rejected by the Enemy”, and even “Meals Rejected by Ethiopians.”
… Beginning this year , Meals Ready to Eat will be sporting a new package design.
…. In 2006, the US Army Natick Soldier RD&E Center began evaluating new graphic designs for the MRE bags. They started off with 18 new designs and weeded that list down to 9 designs. Further review brought the list down to 5 designs. Those designs were then “field tested” with soldiers to see which ones they preferred.
… The three best graphic designs were finally approved and specified in the 2008 ACR for future MRE bags.
Things you didn’t know about Meals Ready to Eat
Lt. Col. Rich Curry, 507th Air Refueling Wing, 2008
The three “best” graphic designs chosen in 2008 are still in use today.
Above is page 1 from Joan B. Kalick’s The Effect of Consumer-Oriented Packaging Designs on Acceptance and Consumption of Military Rations, a 1992 technical report for The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC).
A longer summary of this report (and some videos) appear after the fold…
Below are some unboxing “reviews” of an MRE in each of the 3 designs (for some reason by an Australian guy)…