Dr. Strangeloaf: A Survival-Food Taste Test

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Candwich.

In 1961, the Pentagon ordered 150 million crushed-wheat wafers to be distributed to fallout shelters and opened in the event of nuclear war. The biscuit, the New York Times reported with some trepidation, “tastes something like a graham cracker.” Since then, the selection of survival food has expanded with every end-times scare, from Y2K to 2012. A sampling of what’s in the well-provisioned bug-out bag:



AmeriQual macaroni and beef in sauce Meal Ready to Eat

This vacuum-sealed staple, beloved of American soldiers with no other menu options, comes with peanut butter, crackers, raisins, a toaster pastry, and an oatmeal cookie. Want vegetables? Go nibble some grass. Shelf life: 5 years (or more)

Mountain House freeze-dried eggs with bacon

After a month of chasing squirrels, you won’t mind the unnaturally yellow color, the flavor of liquid smoke, or the spongy texture. Shelf life: 7 years


Shelf Reliance freeze-dried strawberry slices

Like fine wine, this cryodesiccated delight only gets better with age. Shelf life: 25 years


Peanut butter and grape jelly Candwich

The “Sandwich in a Can” has a military-developed bun that other brands have yet to copy…for a reason. Shelf life: 1 year

Daily Bread freeze-dried ice cream sandwich

It’s got the Glenn Beck seal of approval, so you know it’s gonna be good. Shelf life: 7 years


In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.