25 Comments

  1. Can’t say they look much like mess kits, but I’ll buy it.

    But yes, word gets passed back on what they’re serving, and word gets passed forward on a plea to conserve a limited resource for people at the end of the line.

  2. it’s a bad drawing of a messkit… If this is one of the ones by Mort’s kids, drawn by someone who has never seen one. Beetle is asking that those ahead of him leave enough for him.

    It won’t work, but it never hurts to ask.

  3. And no, they’d never get REAL maple syrup – way too $$$$, and probably not enough of it produced to serve an entire army; easier to mix brown sugar and whatever and call it “maple” syrup. How many would know the difference anyway?

  4. “Is this the line for going into the mess tent? ”

    It looks like the cook is outside with a table. And there’s another table with a soldier standing next to it. It looks like they’ll be eating outside.

  5. Thanks for answering several of the points of confusion!

    I really misunderstood the “Go easy on the maple syrup” as a bit of advice or warning — either because of digestive consequences, or because it would make their hands sticky and they would be glued to the mysterious objects they are grasping. Which wouldn’t make sense sequentially — but that’s why I didn’t understand it!

  6. I thought Beetle wanted to relay that he wanted them to go easy on the maple syrup for his order as he doesn’t care for it much, and the joke being that with a huge line how silly it is for him to expect individual attention.

  7. I was going to be surprised that they had drawn an authentic WW2 mess kit, but images online show me that the handle is permanently attached to the side with only one compartment so that the handle can go between the two compartments on the other side. Oh well, if it isn’t half-arsed it isn’t Beetle Bailey.

  8. Bear in mind that this is from the retro or “classic” series of Beetle on GoComics, not the current newly-drawn series. Looking at a recent previous CIDU appearance, we were putting the current retro series coverage as from roughly 1963. So while WWII army details were at a little bit of a remove for him then, it is not a tricky research project as it might be for the present series.

  9. I think I saw the guy Beetle is talking to in The Exorcist. But I can see where being able to turn his head that way could be an advantage in combat.

  10. When I was in Boy Scouts they had versions of those you could get. I suppose they’d handy for backpacking or something, but for general camping we used the patrol’s cookware and plates and such.

  11. Maple syrup is readily available, although expensive (about $75 a gallon), where I live, but it is hard to find in other parts of the country. Most people in the USA have never tasted the real thing. If you want to know what Beetle will actually get, buy yourself a bottle of “pancake syrup” such as Log Cabin Original Syrup or Vermont Maid Original Syrup. The word “original” has some meaning other than the one I am familiar with. When I was a kid, Vermont Maid had SOME maple syrup in the ingredient mix. Now it’s all corn syrup with some “natural and artificial maple flavor.” The army is definitely not going to spend $75 a gallon for something for Beetle to put on his pancakes. Most likely it will be Karo syrup. If he’s lucky it will be Karo Dark Corn Syrup.

  12. Trader Joe, here in California, sells 2 or 3 kinds of real maple syrup. I think I’ve seen it it the regular grocery store, too.

  13. They have several brands of real maple syrup at the supermarket here in St. Louis. The store-brand 8oz bottle is $5.14 with a 25% off online coupon if you’re in the rewards program. It’s also available at Aldi stores, which probably means it’s very widely available.

  14. Costco sells a store brand organic 100% pure dark amber maple syrup. Comes in a one liter plastic pseudo jug. We tried some many many years ago, and if I remember, it was very flavorful, but if you are used to the corn syrup versions, it’s kind of weak (i.e. not as sweet) and thinner. Probably would buy it again, except that unless you are pancakes fanatics fixing them every day, a liter of maple syrup will go bad before you ever finish it.

    Now, as to researching WWII mess kits —

    1963: Go to your local library, hope the reference librarian is good. Alternative: Go to the local Army Surplus store, hope they have a lot of old stock. Alternative 2: Go to the local museums, hope they have a military section.

    Present: Query Google – “WWII army mess kit”

    Tricky indeed.

  15. $5.14 for 8 ounces is $82.24 per gallon, so comparable in price, being as the bigger jugs cost less per ounce. Some jugs come with instructions as to what to do if it appears to go bad. Basically skim off the bad stuff on top and then boil it for a while.

  16. As of 2015, Vermont and then the USDA decreed that all US maple syrup is “Grade A”
    – with more descriptive verbiage added. The darker grades are more flavorful.
    https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/01/29/268412475/grade-inflation-in-the-maple-syrup-aisle-now-everything-is-an-a

    @Mark, yes to skimming the bad stuff, but avoid boiling – let it barely simmer for long enough to
    kill any remaining bacteria or mold spores. Boiling can produce a furiously bubbling sticky mess.

  17. Long ago, a friend who took a vacation to Vermont brought back some bottles of Vermont maple syrup as gifts for friends; but knowing I never have pancakes at home, she brought me a pair of bookends, small but heavy blocks of veined green Vermont granite. They were good bookends!

  18. Recently caught a Ken Burns documentary series, “The War”. An old vet recalled that once the infantrymen at the front got something like prime rib. As they went down the line with their mess kits, the last stop was dessert — chocolate pudding, which the server just poured over the meat. He remembered it as the best dinner he ever ate, but not because of the pudding.

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