Tactical Tailor

Field Gourmet – Box Nasties

Earlier today I was watching the old Jimmy Stewart flick, “Strategic Air Command.” In one scene he’s flying the then new B-47 and eating from a white cardboard box. That’s right, a Box Nasty. That movie is from 1955 and that box hasn’t changed, except for some graphics added to the lid as seen here on this fine example from al Udeid AB, Qatar. Let’s face it, it’s the meal we love to hate.


In the end, it doesn’t really matter that the wrapping is the same, because the contents, no matter where they come from, almost always lead to digestive issues. Doing a little research, (Here’s a free tip. Do NOT google ‘box nasty’ as an image search. Trust me on this one.) I found the coolest website about arcane subjects ever; the Box Nasty Hall of Shame. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated since 2009 but there are some awesome examples in this virtual museum.


Tell us your box nasty stories.

14 Responses to “Field Gourmet – Box Nasties”

  1. Josh says:

    Dude, that google tip made me laugh!

  2. Matthew says:

    Looks a similar feeding phenomenon found in HM Forces, known as a ‘horror bag’.

    Usually packaged in a brown paper bag, or the extra special white card box. Contents vary from place to place, but typical delights include cheese and onion/meat/vegetable D-shaped pastries/lattices, and the famous ‘cat shit’ sausage rolls. These are often still frozen when it comes time to consume them. Failing that, a sandwich is included, with the cheapest, thinnest meat, and a tiny bit of lettuce or coleslaw. I have gotten sandwiches in the past that were just filled with coleslaw. In some establishments, a wholemeal roll, with spreadable cheese or pâté would replace the pastry or sandwich.

    Some sort of small chocolate bar, such as a two finger Kit Kat, or a Blue Riband, a packet of awful crisps (chips), and a piece of fruit, almost always an apple, round off the meal. The apple is usually pretty mushy. Of particular note are the crisps: Tayto brand, from Northern Ireland. Pretty awful, with just a handful in the packet. It seems to be a popular brand in it’s home province, as I’m pretty sure they used to have an entire walkway in one of the Belfast airports emblazoned with their advertising. I do appreciate their somewhat clever name though.

    And just in case the gourmet delights got you thirsty, a tiny bottle of water is supposed to quench this. In years gone by, it was a bottle of cheap and nasty fizzy pop (soda), known as Panda Pops, with excruciatingly strong flavours, no doubt enhanced with a myriad of E numbers.

    Sometimes a tray of jam (jelly) doughnuts would accompany the horror bags, or maybe even a tray of yogurts… without spoons.

    • Jim says:

      Haver gags, scab packs…..Polar Cola was another drink along with the mystery meat sandwich….the contents only varied slightly in my 30ish years service….

  3. Mark says:

    I remember getting those in the late 70s and early 80s. They even came with a handy dandy church key to open cans and bottles you could keep as a souvenir!

  4. Tom says:

    I particularly remember the can of orange juice/battery electrolyte packed in the in-flight meal boxes…

  5. Baldwin says:

    Hmmmm. I remember bologna and butter sandwiches and a hard boiled egg. Maybe an apple. No soda, no chips, no sweets. I was always too hungry to complain. Yummy!

  6. Greg says:

    I’d lay odds that the author of that website probably died in 2009 from those famed digestive issues.

  7. Agent K says:

    If I had a dollar for ever one of those I’ve eaten.

  8. graphei says:

    I want that Arabic can of Mt. Dew!!

  9. Tahoe says:

    I have trouble sympathizing with the seemingly-standard USAF “we didn’t get housed in a five-star hotel!”-type whining. I’ve had a couple box meals on flights, and was happy to have them instead of MREs or worse. I think you’ll have a hard time telling a grunt or jarhead about how rough your day was…

    • Lew says:

      Bloody amen.
      “Does the meal come in a bag?”
      “Is there something in there that is chewable rather than just being mush?”
      “Best. Field. Meal. Ever.”

  10. m.j. says:

    AUAB – wow, good times. Oh yeah, now I remember that the haji-pop cans still had the old pull tab. If you could get to the flight kitchen (down the road), you could get chicken nuggets (chewy bites of chicken-like fun).

  11. Killchain says:

    Box of Nasties, in Howard AFB Panama………Cold fried chicken, chips, soda, fruit, and my favorite part……..a Charleston Chew candy bar. Which I love to this day.

  12. PB4549 says:

    There’s the not quite frozen solid Jimmy Dean alternative lol.