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Navy Food & "Midrats" Ration, 1902

The 1902 Navy Ration.

By 1902, the Navy Ration had seen many changes over time to accommodate a healthier diet for Sailors, and 1902 had also brought some change for the better by bringing more cheese and starch options to the menu. But, when discussing the history of the Navy ration, the most notable "events" would be the loss of the spirit portion of the ration and the addition of, arguably, the Sailor's favorite meal--the midnight ration, better known as "MIDRATS".

The Origin of MIDRATS

On July 1, 1902, "An act Making appropriations for the naval service for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, nineteen hundred and three, and for other purposes." was signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt. The law included for the first time an additional ration specifically for those Sailors who worked the night shift. Specifically, as part of the "SUPPLIES AND ACCOUNTS." portion of the Act, it reads, "That an extra allowance of one ounce of coffee or cocoa, two ounces of sugar, four ounces of hard bread or its equivalent, and four ounces of preserved meat or its equivalent shall be allowed to enlisted men of the engineer and dynamo force when standing night watches between eight o'clock postmeridian and eight o'clock antemeridian under steam.[1]"

The Daily Ration

One pound and a quarter salt or smoked meat, with three ounces of dried or six ounces of canned fruit, and three gills of beans or peas, or twelve ounces of flour; or one pound of preserved meat, with three ounces of dried or six ounces of canned fruit, and twelve ounces of rice or eight ounces of canned vegetables or four ounces of desiccated vegetables; together with one pound of biscuit, two ounces of butter, four ounces of sugar, two ounces of coffee or cocoa or one-half ounce of tea and one ounce of condensed milk or evaporated cream

The Weekly Allowance

One-half pound of macaroni, four ounces of cheese, four ounces of tomatoes, one-half pint of vinegar, one-half pint of pickles, one-half pint of molasses, four ounces of salt, one-quarter ounce of pepper, and one-half ounce of dry mustard. Five pounds of lard or a suitable substitute shall be allowed for every hundred pounds of flour issued as bread, and such quantities of yeast as may be necessary.


For one and one-quarter pounds of salt or smoked meat or one pound of preserved meat, one and three-quarters pounds of fresh meat; in lieu of the article usually issued with salt, smoked, or preserved meat, fresh vegetables of equal value: for one pound of biscuit, one and one quarter pounds of soft bread, or eighteen ounces of flour; for three gills of beans or peas, twelve ounces of flour or rice or eight ounces of canned vegetables, and for twelve ounces of flour or rice or eight ounces of canned vegetables, three gills of beans or peas.

[1] the Statutes at Large, Volume 32, page 680. United States Government Printing Office.

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