In 1941 it was revealed that many military members had poor nutritional statuses. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established an initiative that urged the military to create meals that would be "palatable" and "not derange the chemistry of the body." MCIs (an acronym for "Meal, Combat Individual") debuted in 1958, offering an improvement upon previous K-Rations thanks to their meal diversity: A typical MCI consisted of a canned meat, canned fruit, bread or dessert, as well as an accessory packet that contained cigarettes, matches, chewing gum, toilet paper, coffee, cream sugar, salt, and spoon. The MCI was the first ration to be nutritionally balanced, following the RDA guidelines and providing an average of 1,200 calories per meal.
During the Vietnam War, special operations troops were introduced to the Food Packet, Long Range Patrol (LRP), the ration that transformed canned goods into flexible packages and eventually became the retort pouch (MREs) soldiers eat from today.