The November 1961 edition of All Hands, the Bureau of Personnel’s information bulletin, included two articles on food. One of them, entitled “The Science of Good Eating,” addresses some of the issues, including the advent of nuclear power, faced by the Navy Subsistence Office as it attempted to keep Sailors healthy and well.
“If you’re one of those sea-going sailors who can hardly wait for the day when you’ll be going to shore duty, you probably feel that your counterpart ashore is afforded a better way of life than you.
“You’re entitled to your own opinion. But at least three times each day, you both are engaged in the same pleasant task. This takes place immediately after chow call has sounded and you’ve seated yourself in front of another Navy meal.
“Every day Navy food experts try to tempt the diversified tastes of sailors serving in steaming tropics, subzero vastnesses, rolling ships, at distant shore stations, beneath the seas and in the skies.
“…In 1959, …Navy general messes consumed almost 375,000 tons of food at a cost of $153,809,199. The mess subsistence returns on these meals were analyzed and audited by the Navy Subsistence Office (NSO).
“Under management control of the Navy’s Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, NSO, with a relatively small staff of 10 officers and 62 civilians, is responsible for assuring every Navy enlisted man throughout the world an adequate food supply that meets the highest possible standards of taste, sanitation and service.
“…Of special concern to the Navy today is the dilemma of space aboard ships—space to store and prepare food. Food storage space—or the lack of it—is a problem with critical military ramifications in the fast-changing Navy of today. With the dawning of nuclear power, the cruising range of ships has been extended until food—rather than fuel—is seriously limiting the maximum deployment of our sea forces.
“Food storage facilities aboard most naval vessels are recognized as inadequate to support the extended fighting range of our newest ships. Also, as modern weapons and missiles, with their intricate and complex electronic equipment, require more room on ships, food storage space must often be reduced to make way for additional military equipment. The Navy’s number one question, therefore, is how to get more food on ships with less storage space.
“Space to prepare food is also at a premium aboard our ships. To solve the problem of inadequate galley space, Navy food scientists and engineers are constantly at work developing new, compact, multiple-use equipment for ship galleys.
“One answer is in bulkless new foods, described as ‘ration-dense’ foods. They consist of dehydrated, concentrated, pre-cooked, pre-cut and compressed food, which comes to the Navy galley in a compact can, carton or frozen package. These good things in small packages require a fraction of the space reserved for more bulky conventional items needed to feed the Fleet.
“Another answer is in redesigning conventional equipment. The cost-conscious Navy has made many advances in the development of new multi-purpose galley equipment and techniques. Some recent achievements include a new oven that saves 30 once-wasted pounds, per 100, of roasted meat; a new multiple-function deep-fat fryer; a square coffee urn giving double capacity; an infrared food warmer and cooker; and even a new lightweight stirring paddle that is stain- and scratch-proof.
“Another piece of food equipment developed by Navy research is Unimike—a steam-jacketed kettle that can bake, stew, deep fry, refrigerate, pressure cook and mix all within 28 square inches. This multi-purpose equipment, given a peck of potatoes, can peel, cook, mash and hold them either hot or chilled. While Unimike is not in use in the Fleet yet, it indicates the future of compact galley equipment.
“…The Navy would be grateful for a hint on how to solve such a simple operation as making fresh toast rapidly enough to supply a fast-moving line.
“As to new foods, the Navy Subsistence Office is showing interest in instant bread and freeze-dehydrated cottage cheese. It is also interested in prefabricated, ready-to-cook meals that are portion-controlled. Multi-purpose food items are also desired, such as a universal cake mix from which several flavors may be made.”