What edibles are good for a care package to a soldier in Iraq?

One of my student workers has a boyfriend stationed in Iraq and we’re getting together a care package. (We know him also- he was a student here.) We’ve included Pringles and breakfast bars that he requested, but what other items do people who’ve been out of the U.S. miss that are non-perishable and won’t melt) whether they realize it or not?

Included so far are salsa & chips, bunches of {non-objectionably covered} magazines, trail mix and peanuts.
We’re weighing whether to send instant grits- stupid questions, but would soldiers have access to boiling water and salt?
And any suggestions for other items that ship well and aren’t readily available would be much appreciated.

I would suggest a 48-pack of canned fruit cocktail. Whenever I was in a hot climate sweating my ass off, that is what I wanted most.

Does canned stuff keep in the heat?

Jerky always went over well with my nephew and his buddies he shared with, as well as those Crystal Light or Koolaid individual servings to flavor up the bottled water.

Not an edible, but lip balm, we shipped dozens of Blistexes.

Check out anysoldier.com.

Hot Sauce;
Garlic Salt;
Cayenne Pepper;
Beef Jerky/Slim Jims;
Gatorade (powdered stuff), and like;
Hard candies;
Vienna Sausages;
Crackers (Keebler’s Town House, etc);
Cookies (Chip’s Ahoy were always popular, melted/sticky or not!);
Trail mix;
Sunflower seeds;

These all made me smile when I got care packages from home.

Not an edible, but I’ve heard baby wipes are popular.

Note that if you are going to send baby wipes or lip balm, don’t put them in the same package as the edibles.

From anysoldier.com’s How To Send page:

I would send a package of Ocean Spray Craisins. They’d hold up to temp extremes, and they’d keep until used. A very good mouth cleansing treat.

Chocolate Chip cookies give you 1 extra AP. :smiley:


The lists my ex-students send look a lot like ExTank’s.

I sent a care package a while ago, one of the things that the soldier requested was pop-tarts.*
*The food kind, not the Britney Spears kind.

Some of the responses I have to second are any kind of jerky (I actually had someone send me bear when I was there), Kool-Aid individual packets, cheese crackers, and nuts. We had a large supply of near beer there, so anything that goes good with beer and keeps well would work for me. I would suggest asking the Soldier what he wants and cannot get.

We really didn’t have access to boiling water, but HMMV. I also did appreciate newspapers. I loved reading the Sunday paper laid out in my cot. It made me feel like I was home. The sale ads were popular as was like a wish list of things we would buy when we got back.

SSG Schwartz

Another vote for jerky. We even sent our son and his buddies some venison jerky we made for them. It was a bit hit.

Couple other things he asked for are hand sanitizer and hard candies. (Not in the same box tho).

All good suggestions. My experience tells me that newsy letters, maybe w/ some pics of familiar people/places, are the most treasured. That tiny connection w/ “the real world” is a big morale booster. Also books, or magazines, if you have some idea of the persons reading habits and favorite subjects.

I had access to the internet, so newspapers weren’t really that great to me. I also had a microwave that the barracks shared and salt is easily swiped (legally) from the chow halls. I liked Ramen Noodles and EasyMac. It was a simple meal if I didn’t want to walk down the chow hall.

I hope this doesn’t backfire on someone, but it holds true for most:
No candy. My god, no more! We still had halloween candy on Easter. On the walk next door to work, I pased at least 5 dishes/boxes of hard candy.

Baby wipes are cool if you’re out in the heat (Some are, some aren’t) but not really for cleaning. Most everyone can get a shower when they need/want it. I don’t know how much they cost, but sending alcohol pads would be better to cool down with and smell better too.

Look, I’ll break it down really simply for everyone that wants to be adored by the guys there- whiskey is the same color as original Listerine. Do a little bottle swap and they’ll love you forever. It’s illegal, sure, but I don’t think anyone actually cares.

(Please forgive me if this idea offends anyone: I apologize in advance…)

If there was a way to do it, I think a watermelon injected with vodka. You wouldn’t put in enough for anyone to get really drunk(or maybe you would?) Imagine what a treat it would be!

Bread maker. Seriously. Prepackaged mixes, just add water. I’m sure someone you know has one lying around, or you can find one at a garage sale.

There is nothing like the smell and taste of fresh baked bread.

Oh, and if you need any ideas like IntelSoldier happened to mention, PM me.

Anysoldier.com which has been mentioned is great resource for finding soldiers, seeing what they want and tips, ideas, and instructions for sending things overseas.

We do this with apricots and it works really well. Put a package of dried apricots into a jar. You’ll want to add some sugar and enough vodka so they’re covered and can soak for several weeks, then transfer if needed into something that’ll ship. They are delicious.

What’s the peanut butter situation like for him? If the base provides some good stuff, then fine. Otherwise, ain’t no peanut butter like American peanut butter.

During the summer months, chocolate (or really, any meltable candy) cannot be shipped to Iraq. So, anything “chocolately” that IS shippable is popular. Examples: Poptarts with the chocolate filling, chocolate Twizzlers, that sort of thing. DRINK MIX – gatorade, Kool-aid or crystal light – especially in the to-go single serve packets. Hydration is important and drinking gallons of plain water is kind of “eh.”

In answer to your question, canned goods are fine. They keep more or less indefinately. Some soldiers request Chef-boyardee and similar – choose pop-tops or enclose a can opener. (being fully cooked, they do not actually need to be cooked again). Any canned or shelf stable protein is generally good.

Another popular non-food item for the summer has been water balloons and water pistols. A deck of playing cards is often requested. Other portable amusments (Uno cards, travel scrabble, word find books) are good. Local newspapers for a taste of home. Postcards and letter paper (no need for stamps).

Chips that are packed in bags do not usually make it in good shape. If possible, choose the kind of salty treats that come in a canister.

BTW, if you haven’t already looked into it, the USPS Flat Rate Box is a very good value when you ship heavy items.