We posted a few weeks ago about the specifications that define mil-spec 550lb paracord, via a document known as C-5040H. This 20-page standard outlines the construction, assembly, and strength requirements for cordage used by the U.S. Military.


Paracord may seem like a simple material, but every detail has been analyzed and tested by the U.S. Government.

Military specifications like C-5040H are extremely detailed, almost to the point of absurdity, but many would argue that it's a necessary evil. Love them or hate them, these bureaucratic regulations eliminate minuscule variations in quality, and prevent corner-cutting that might cost the lives of military personnel.

This also got us thinking: what other military products have rules and regulations this specific? Oddly enough, there is actually a military specification for brownies, specifically the brownies found in MRE (meal ready-to-eat) ration packages. The 26-page specification is known as C-44072C, and you can click here to read it in its entirety.


Next time you open an MRE, remember that thousands of man-hours were spent analyzing its contents.

Here are a few highlights from the C-44072C mil-spec brownies regulations:

  • “All ingredients shall be clean, sound, wholesome, and free from foreign material, evidence of rodent or insect infestation, extraneous material, off-odors, off-flavors, and off-colors.”

Mmm, extraneous material. While we get that C-44072C needs to be specific, we would hope this part goes without saying.

  • “Nuts shall be either almonds, pecans, or walnuts or any combination thereof.”

That doesn't seem too specific… until you get to the next part.

  • Regarding shelled walnuts: “A minimum of 90 percent, by weight, of the pieces shall pass through a 4/16-inch diameter round hole screen and not more than 1 percent, by weight, shall pass through a 2/16-inch diameter round hole screen.”
The U.S. Department of Defense takes walnut sizes very seriously.

The U.S. Department of Defense takes walnut sizes very seriously.

Now we're imagining some guy in a lab coat spot-checking walnut diameter under a magnifying glass. This next statement doesn't help us forget that image, either.

  • “If necessary, each ingredient shall be examined organoleptically.”

We actually had to look that word up. Organoleptic means “involving the use of the sense organs”, so it's basically saying the ingredients should be visually checked and taste-tested. Remember that one next time you lick some batter off the spoon—it's not a snack, it's an organoleptic examination to ensure quality.

“Sorry honey, I had to perform an organoleptic exam on the cookie. It's for science, I swear.”

  • “The brownies shall be completely enrobed with a continuous uniform chocolate coating (see 3.2.14) in an amount which shall be not less than 29 percent by weight of the finished product.”

29 percent uniform chocolate enrobement by weight, just like grandma used to make.

We may laugh at these absurd rules for mil-spec brownies, but like other mil-spec products, they're held to a high standard. So, next time you chow down on an MRE, remember that there have been teams of government employees analyzing every detail of its contents.


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