It's the end of the world and you've got an empty belly. What are you going to do?
That's just one of many questions preppers (survivalists) have planned for. But what about regular joes who aren't hunkered down in a bunker, waiting for an asteroid/zombie uprising/nuclear terrorist attack? Are you prepared for when hunger strikes?
Over the past few weeks, I've been researching the prepper lifestyle for an upcoming novel I'm working on. I've always found survivalism interesting. Maybe because I grew up in an area that has tornado seasons. I remember when I was younger everyone had a "storm closet" with canned goods in the event of a major storm or some other calamity that might prevent trips to the grocery store. These days, it seems like most people shop for less than 2-3 days worth of food, and "fresh" food is all the rage.
I was raised on canned foods and TV dinners (and pizza). I'm fine, with no major health problems. I still eat frozen foods, canned foods, and pizza. I don't eat very much fresh food. So my house is kind of well-stocked for a disaster anyway.
But in the course of my online research, I've come across a lot of interesting foods popular among preppers. Personally, I don't get it. Canned foods last for years. Why all the hubbub over speciality "survival" foods.
Well, the only way to know that, is to try it. And that's just what I aim to do...
PILOT CRACKERS OR BREAD
So the first thing I thought of when contemplating a post-apocalyptic situation where food would be scarce was bread. I love a good sandwich. And I love bread with most of my canned foods.
Whether it's a Carrington Event, EMP, or zombie uprising, if I can't get to the store after the first week of the apocalypse, I'm going to be craving some bread. Sure, we have a breadbox, and we could keep frozen bread lasting in our chest freezer connected to our portable generator, but to be honest, bread goes pretty fast in our house. We run out all the time.
So I began to wonder... do they make bread in a can? As it turns out, they do. But in the course of finding bread in a can, I also learned about Pilot Crackers... which I'd never heard of before.
For our taste test, we ordered a 30.58 ounce can of Mountain House Pilot crackers for $18.75 on Amazon. The can comes with a plastic lid, so in case you don't eat the 62 crackers in the can all at one sitting, you can reseal them for later use in the Apocalypse.
Using our apocalytic measuring device (U.S. Bills are 6 inches long), we see that the crackers (which Mountain House says will last thirty years in their unopened coffee-sized cans), are a little under three-inches across.
The canned bread, which comes in 16 ounce cans (2 for $13.89), is a little bit bigger across.
But how do they taste?
Basically, a pilot cracker is a thicker, denser cracker, that reminds me of animal crackers, but not as sweet.
Now, I've never had canned bread before, either. I was hoping for something like Outback Restaurant's brown bread, which I am convinced contains trace amounts of cocaine, or some other hyper-addictive controlled substance as I sincerely believe I could eat myself to death if I could just get them to keep bringing me fresh loaf after fresh loaf until I exploded.
Alas, B&M's canned bread is not a devilishly-good treat from Down Under. It's a molasses-infused rye bread. Which, as rye breads go, is okay. That surprised me as I despise rye bread. It's also very moist--not something you'd find in a cracker. At first, there's little taste to this bread which the internet tells me is a New England treat, often served with baked beans. After a little chewing, the molasses starts to register as an after taste. Not great, not bad, it's just bread. I might enjoy it more if it came out of the toaster (assuming we had the generator fired up).
Would I make a sandwich out of Pilot Crackers or Brown bread? No. And I suppose I could soften the crackers up in water if I wanted to pour something like chili or canned roast beef over them, getting a vaguely bread-like taste. But there's no need. Pilot crackers are delicious as-is. Canned bread is... an acceptable post-apocalyptic substitute for bread, when dipped in something else.
(Easy cheese on Pilot cracker, Plain Pilot cracker, and Peanut Butter on pilot cracker)
How do they stack up, cost-wise?
The pilot crackers end up at $.61 an ounce. Brown canned bread is $.43 an ounce (if you slice it to the serving size suggested: 2 ounces)
Nutritionally, how do the crackers and bread stack up?
There are eight 2-ounce servings of bread in a can, versus sixty-two 15g crackers in the Pilot can. So, roughly, 4 pilot crackers equal one serving of sliced, canned bread:
130 calories in the bread slice vs. 240 calories in the crackers
.5g of fat vs. 8g
55mg of sodium vs. 220g
10g of carbs vs. 40g
1g of sugar vs. 4g
1g of protein vs. 4g
Overall, I think that makes the Pilot crackers the winner. They seem like they'd fill you up more, although the increased sodium means you'd need more potable (drinkable) water.
Factor in that the crackers come in a reusable can with a lid, and the bread you have to cut both ends off to get it out, and despite the slightly-higher cost, I think we'll be stocking a can or two of Pilot Crackers in our storm closet for this year's tornado season.
Check back in one week for another review of disaster dining...