Army trades miniature bottles of Tabasco for powdered hot sauce

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Coming soon to an MRE near you: hot sauce powder.

New batches of field rations will contain the only way to animate everything from chili macaroni to cheese tortellini in powder form.

As Julie Smith, senior food technologist for the Army’s combat food division, told Stars and Stripes, that means those instantly recognizable miniature Tabasco bottles will be phased out by 2024.

It’s one of several changes that were approved for the next-gen menu of MRE – short for Meal, Ready to Eat – in February. While miniature bottles of Tabasco may be iconic, having seasoned (or soured) many field meals, the powdered stuff is simply lighter and cheaper.

And while troops in focus groups and questionnaires consistently ranked the hot sauce favorably, the researchers — whose job it was to sift through discarded MREs — found that when it came to miniature bottles, that love was perhaps more symbolic than practical.

“We had a lot of unopened bottles of hot sauce,” research psychologist Wendy Johnson said.

Tabasco has been a staple of military rations for decades, dating back to 1966 when company CEO Walter McIlhenny began distributing a C-ration pocket cookbook that came with a two-ounce bottle of the product.

“Your product has always been in demand by troops in the field,” Army General Norman Schwarzkopf wrote in a 1991 letter to the McIlhenny Company. “I have enjoyed spicing up my own rations with your pepper sauce for many years.”

In 1992, the Department of Defense officially added the ⅛ ounce cylinders to MREs.

However, this is not the first time that they have found themselves on the culinary chopping block.

In 2011, they were replaced with a ketchup-style packet. The tiny bottles made one more comeback in 2019, however, after the military source for these packages stopped making them.

For those who prefer their Tabasco in a liquid state rather than a solid state, don’t worry. The Combat Food Division is always researching better ways to deploy Liquid Hot Sauce.
In the meantime, videos like this will actually make a lot more sense.

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