Meat and egg components:
- Chopped pork and egg yolk
- Chopped ham and eggs
- American processed cheese
- American processed cheese and Swiss cheese blend
- American processed cheese with bacon
- Canned pork loaf with carrots
and apple flakes
- Veal and pork loaf
- Beef and pork loaf
- Corned beef minced
- Deviled meat
- Solid packed chicken
- Chop suey with pork and toasted
- Chipped steak
- Fried ham
- Pork steaks
The key used to open the cans were of the wire type. The famous P38 opener was not included in the K ration, but came with the 10-in-1 ration.
Twelve K rations (36 units) were packed in a cardboard box, this box was to be placed in a wooden shipping case for overseas shipment.
One must keep in mind that all the changes were to be incorporated in the production lines without slowing the process down. This could vary with all the different packing plants. All kinds of small differences in the contents can be observed, due to these change overs in the production process and packers lines.
As shown in the pictures next and below, the Army had the obligation to the public to keep them informed about the welfare of the troops. The people needed to know that their loved ones were taken care of. To inform the American people the Army held exhibitions were visitors were shown what the American soldier was fed in the field. It is said that the American army was the best fed army of the world. Tell that to the poor GI who had to live on these ration week after week.
Although the K ration was developed as a combat ration and to be used only for a few days, the Army placed to much faith in the fact that it was a balanced meal, with all the necessary nutritions. Therefor it was issued as a staple diet for the combat soldiers. It provided enough calories to keep a man going, but it lacked bulk. It didn’t filled the stomach and the soldier kept a hungry feeling. As a side effect of prolonged use of this highly concentrated ration, the soldiers stomach couldn’t handle normal rich food any more. After coming off the line and being fed at rear echelon mess facilities, the GI’s usually got sick with cramps and stomach ache and came down with the “GI’s” (diarrhea).
The Army “sold” the K ration as a full daily ration specially developed for the fighting men, and it was issued as such. Usually the bulkier C ration and the 10-in-1 ration were carried on vehicles, and hardly available for the foot soldier.
A change approved such as with the morale boxes in February that went into full production three months later, can only be observed in the combat photos taken from September on. So, one has to keep in mind that when something was officially approved and taken into production, it doesn’t mean that the next day it was supplied to the soldier half way around the globe. Still until the end of the war, the old boxes with varying contents were in stock and issued along the new ones.
When the war ended, the U.S. Military found itself with vast amounts of stocks of rations. Some were given to the populace of liberated or conquered countries to elevate the food shortages. Other rations were sold to countries who had to fight for their colonies, like the Dutch in their Dutch East Indies and the French in Indo Chine. In 1947 the K ration was declared obsolete by the U.S. Army. But even in the early days of the Korean conflict, surplus stocks of K rations were used until the new C ration was into full production and could be supplied.
The United States army released an interesting short movie about its rations. Its a ten minute promotion movie called: Food For Fighters. Shown is the food preparation and assembly of several ration on a assembly line. Also, note how the crates are stenciled.