Nary has a military meal been so odious as a handful of hotdogs vacuum-sealed in a pouch.
From 1993 to 2000, the Frankfurters, Beef, Menu #6 MRE wreaked havoc on the bowels of service members everywhere and gained a moniker befitting their villainy: the four fingers of death.
Encased in airtight plastic, these four little hotdogs, which are about the length of the average human digit, plop out of the packaging along with a brownish-pinkish sort of liquid. These salty meat fingers were typically paired with “Western Beans” to complete the feel of an authentic barracks barbecue.
So detestable was this meal-ready-to-eat that it even got its own entry on Urban Dictionary.
“The name comes from the main course, which consists of 4 horrible, rancid frankfurter hot dogs,” the post reads. “Also included in this menu are an equally abhorrent fudge bar, mediocre beans in tomato sauce, and apple jelly with crackers, in addition to the standard accessory packet.”
YouTuber Gundog 4314, who reviews vintage MREs, tried out the stinky sausages in 2017 for posterity, and confirmed that they are indeed awful.
“Truly one of the worst MRE’s ever produced and has officially taken the title of the worst ration I have tested to date!” he wrote in the video’s description.
Alas, it was discontinued before the Global War on Terror, meeting its end in 2000. However, some troops reported encountering them in the field as late as 2006. Surplus, for the win.
They were almost as universally hated, it seems, as the era’s veggie and ham omelettes, respectively.
“First one to be traded off,” wrote one Twitter use. “Nicknamed ‘Frank farters.’ Lots of Tabasco allows a person to stomach most anything though.”
Though the DoD Combat Feeding Directorate confirmed the production years of these dirty death sticks, the public affair office would not offer comment on why its reign of terror was a mere seven years.
The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, under which the Combat Feeding Directorate operates, does take into account troops’ opinions about what they want to eat, however. It’s just possible that – much like the more recent attempt to incorporate pizza into the MRE menu list – this ballpark frank effort was not exactly a homerun.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.