By: Will Moul
Putting together your own K rations for consumption sounds like a fun and cheap way to add
some authenticity to an impression, but there is a lot of time, money and research involved to do this
There are some excellent K ration kits available for sale that include everything you need other
than the food and consumables and I would highly recommend you go with one of these. Speaking
from experience, it’s very expensive and time consuming creating decent looking K ration packaging
yourself. Unless you have professional printers at your disposal and are producing hundreds of kits,
making your own packaging will not be worth your time and they will not be authentic.
That said, this tutorial will focus on what food and consumables you should use to fill whatever
packaging you use. Most food items are common sense and easy to find, some can be difficult to source
and honestly, others are impossible to find nowadays. Let my previous experience (and failures) in
building rations help you build yours.
The Meat Unit
K rations came with a variety of canned meat and/or cheese. These cans were oddly shaped by today’s
standards and were opened with keys, which were included in the ration. Correctly sized cans opened
with keys are no longer made today, especially with the correct contents. What I use are easily available
5 oz. cans of either chicken or diced ham (great for the breakfast meal). While these cans are slightly
larger than original (they’re a bit too wide to fit into the K ration’s cardboard protective sleeve for the meat can but they will fit into the inner box) and aren’t opened with a key, they get the job done.
Remove the outer label from the can and give it a quick spray with OD paint. Pro tip: don’t paint the top
of the can, otherwise you’ll get paint flecks in the meat when you open it with your P-38. Each meal
receives a can of meat.
These are pretty straight forward. For one type of biscuit use any brand of graham crackers broken into
small sections with three or four pieces in each pack and wrap in cellophane, heating it to seal. For the
other type of biscuit use any brand of rectangular, unsalted “party” crackers. Again, three or four
crackers go into each pack and wrap them with cellophane, heating it to seal. Each meal receives
The Beverage Powder
There were four standard beverage powders included in the K ration: soluble coffee, lemon powder,
orange powder, and beef bouillon powder. These are also pretty straight forward: take whichever
powder you like, insert about a GI spoon full into the repro pouch you are using, and heat seal using your wife’s hair straightener (just don’t let her know).
For the coffee, it may be best to buy the most economical container of instant coffee you can find for this project. However, I’ve found Folgers individual packets of instant coffee is an easy solution as each packet holds the perfect amount of coffee for a single repro pouch. For the lemon powder, make
sure you use sugar free lemon powder. Use whatever orange powder and beef bouillon powder you
wish. Each meal should come with one beverage powder, most commonly coffee for breakfast (and later also included in the supper meal), lemon or orange powder for dinner (used interchangeably) and beef
bouillon for supper.
The Fruit Bar
Breakfast K rations usually came with a fruit bar. LARABAR brand ‘cherry pie’ fruit bars are an excellent fill-in as they fit the bill in both looks and taste. The bars are the correct dimensions you need so simply seal it in your fruit bar packaging.
The Caramel Candy
Caramels are also very easy. Find a bag of Kraft caramels that are individually wrapped. Six of these
caramels will fit perfectly into an authentic K ration caramel box. These were normally seen in the dinner meal as a substitute for the Chocolettos.
The Chewing Gum
This is very straight forward. Get some sticks of gum and replace the outside wrapper with a
reproduction wrapper. Each meal received a stick of gum and they tended to be placed away from the
rest of the food as it would otherwise impart its flavor on the food.
The D Bar or Sweet Chocolate Bar
Depending on how much work you want to do, this step can be difficult and time consuming. There are
molds available that you can use to shape whichever type of chocolate bar you go with.
For the D bar, use one of the many recipes that are floating around the internet. The final product should be a fairly bland and dense bar with a lot of energy for your body. Be sure to eat slowly.
For the sweet chocolate bar, I like to use chocolate almond bark. While not actually chocolate (it uses
vegetable fat instead of cocoa butter), it still tastes very much like chocolate while having a higher
melting point and, unlike chocolate, retains all of its flavor and properties after melting. As almond bark has a high percentage of vegetable oil, the ingestion of too much too quickly will cause the squirts, so be sure to eat slowly!
Straight forward. Either wrap sugar cubes (Domino brand preferred) in packaging or fill your repro sugar box with grandulated sugar. Breakfast usually received the cubes while dinner or supper received the boxed granulated sugar.
Buy Lucky Strike cigarettes as they haven’t really changed in 80 years and are filterless. Pack 4
cigarettes into your packaging and you’re set. Each meal received a pack of cigarettes.
The Toilet Paper
You can purchase unbleached napkins relatively cheaply from Amazon.com or Walmart.com. Take 2-3
napkins and fold into a compact bundle, then wrap and glue your TP label around it. Only the supper
meal came with toilet paper, so use sparingly!
Usable K rations are a sort of holy grail that can take months to develop from scratch. With these tips at
your disposal you will be able to quickly and simply fill out your K rations with the most authentic
consumables that are commercially available. Good luck!