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Did you ever crack open your lunchbox as a kid at school on a Monday and find yourself wondering how the classic contents — ham and cheese on white bread, bag of chips, M&Ms; — became the mega-popular snacks that they are today? You can thank the U.S. military for most of those.   

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U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Victor J. Caputo

So you’re stuck in the field, it’s raining — because why the hell wouldn’t it be? — and you’re famished. So you sit down on an overturned Kevlar and reach into your bag for your prized possession: the long-promised pizza MRE. There’s just one problem: It’s completely brown and looks like shit on a slice of cardboard.

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Task & Purpose illustration by Matt Battaglia

Judging by the havoc MREs wreak on service members from beginning to end, you might guess that the military doesn’t give a shit about soldiers’ bowels. And you would be right. That means it falls on your humble Task & Purpose reporter to investigate the long-held myth that the gum in MREs will help you either release the floodgates or stop up the sewage, if you will, depending on what color it is.

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