Government Reform

How to Make Brownies, Pentagon-Style


non-regulation brownies

The Pentagon's brownie recipe is 26 pages long. Just grab a copy of document MIL-C-44072C and gather your ingredients: water that conforms to the "National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (Copies are available from the Office of Drinking Water, Environmental Protection Agency, WH550D, 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20460)," and some eggs in compliance with "Regulations Governing the Inspection of Eggs and Egg Products (7 CFR Part 59)," and you're ready to go!

3.3.2 Brownie preparation. (NOTE: The contractor is not required to follow the exact procedure shown below provided that the brownies conform to all finished product requirements in 3.4.)
a. Whip eggs in large bowl on high speed until light and fluffy.
b. Combine sugars, cocoa, salt, and leavening; add to beaten eggs, and whip on high speed until thick.
c. Add shortening slowly while mixing on low speed.
d. Scrape bowl and whip on high speed until thick.
e. Mix flour, nuts, and flavors together and fold into batter; mix until uniform.
f. Pour batter into pan at a rate that will yield uncoated brownies which, when cut such as to meet the dimension requirements specified in 3.4f, will weigh approximately 35 grams each. (Experimentally, a panning rate of 14 to 16 grams per square inch was used.)
g. Bake at 350F until done (30 to 45 minutes).
3.3.3 Brownie cutting. The brownies shall be cut to the appropriate size when cool (see 3.4f).

Wondering about adding walnuts? Simply consult section from the "30 April 1990 SUPERSEDING MIL-C-44072B 9 December 1987 W/CHANGE 12 February 2003 MILITARY SPECIFICATION COOKIES, OATMEAL; AND BROWNIES; COCOLATE [sic] COVERED." Nuts, walnuts, shelled. Shelled walnut pieces shall be of the small piece size classification, shall be of a light color, and shall be U.S. No. 1 of the U.S. Standards for Shelled English 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 shelled walnuts shall be coated with an approved food grade antioxidant and shall be of the latest season's crop.

These rules are for brownies destined for MREs, so it makes sense that Department of Defense wants to make sure they're getting uniform brownies with staying power. And many of the pages of regulations have to do with durability of packaging. But any sympathy I might have had for the whole brownie specs enterprise dissolved when I got to section, "Ingredient and component examination," which included this gem:

If necessary, each ingredient shall be examined organoleptically.

Sound like some kind of fancy scientific process, right? As in: "Put those walnuts in the Organoleptatron3000 to test for radioactivity." But in fact, testing "organoleptically" means that tasting, smelling, or looking at something. It's not clear whether you're allowed to decide if a batch of walnuts are OK by nibbling on a few before or after passing you pass them though a "2/16-inch diameter round hole screen" and coat them with "approved food grade antioxidant." All that and yet they can't spell chocolate or reduce fractions?

To answer the obvious question: No, there are no standards for the production of "special brownies."

Download the entire PDF to get the full specs, or do what I do: Go for the rather less complicated Baker's One Bowl Brownie recipe.

Via CEI's Ryan Young.

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  1. All that and they still taste like crap.

    1. Remember, it’s intent, not results, that count here Astrid.

      What you are tasting is Progressive love.

      1. Groovus
        Just for the record the Pentagon is not an institution dear to the hearts of most Progressives…

        1. I beg to differ.

          1. Horsehit MNG.

            Wilson had WWI, FDR had WWII. Truman, Korean War and the start of the Cold War. Reagan won the Cold War and had Greneda. Kennedy/LBJ had Vietnam. Bush the elder had Iraq War/Kuwait. Clinton had Bosnia-Hertz and Somalia. Bush the shrub/The One had/have Iraq II.

            I would submit Progressives rather like the Pentagon when it suits their needs.

            1. There’s some interesting reading to be had on the attempts of the Army leadership in partnership with the Truman administration to remake the entire armed forces in Nazi Germany’s image. Rather enlightening stuff, really. Oh, and the ironic part: Their biggest opponent? The Marines, who’s biggest complaint was the degradation of civilian control.

              1. “Oh, and the ironic part: Their biggest opponent? The Marines, who’s biggest complaint was the degradation of civilian control.”

                There is a reason they say “Semper fi”.

                It is short for Semper fidelis – this is Latin for “Always loyal”.

                They are.

                1. We’ll need the military to do this “civilian control” thingy. I’m kinda stoked about it, really.

                2. Semper Fidelis actually means “Always Faithful”

                  And we are.

                3. It’s “Semper Fidelis” and it means *Always faithful*, not always loyal.

                  Small difference, but important.

                  1. As big a fan as I am of pettifogging distinctions, I’m just not getting the difference between “faithful” and “loyal” here.

                    At the wedding of a Marine, one guest whispered to the next, “What does it mean, ‘Semper Fi’, that they are always shouting?”

                    “It means, ‘semper fidelis’, ‘always faithful’.”

                    “Oh, that’s so romantic…”

                  2. Latin fidelis can be translated into English as either faithful or loyal. Translation isn’t an exact science, and “correcting” someone on the translation is silly.

                    1. Perhaps YOU, Jonathan should read up on Marine Corps history and traditions on what Semper Fidelis means to the Corps.

          2. President Wilson, you may want to brush up on your history. Specifically the dates of your service as POTUS and the building of the Pentagon.

      2. Can I have some weed? Don’t bogart. I can tell you’re smokin’ the good stuff. Comon’, man. Kick down. We’ll make brownies.

      3. Actually, maybe this is a progressive thing… These rules are so a company (which is making the brownies for the government, for a profit) does not short-change the troops by using inferior products, slacking on size, etc. Because we know, when a company can cut corners to make more money (the situation in the Gulf of Mexico ring any bells?), it will.

  2. I remember when I was in the army, there were detailed instructions on how to take a shit. You couldn’t just take a shit anywhere. You had to dig a hole with a certain utinsil to certain depth. I remember joking about it with my 1st seargent and he became very serious that he’d have my ass if the hole wasn’t deep enough and damn well would measure if he caught me taking a shit.

    1. It’s called fieldcraft and it’s pretty god damn important if you want to stay healthy enough to fight. There’s even a disparaging name for those to lazy or stupid to properly dispose of their waste – surface shitter.

    2. Appropriate fieldcraft is important for alot of reasons, including hygiene and operational security. Poor fieldcraft and a lazy attitude to fieldcraft is like having a lazy attitude toward your weapon.

    3. You never heard of E. Coli soldier? All soldiers die, that’s what we’re here for. But the US army didn’t train you so that you could go and die by drinking shit water tea brewed up by some lazy son of a bitch recruit with too little sense to bury his own shit. What’s wrong, you want the world to admire the greatest thing you ever gave birth to? Were you born a lazy, filthy, unsanitary, scumbag puke piece o’ shit or did you have to work on it?

      1. This is awesome.

      2. +1

  3. Here is a real good brownie recipe that does not take that many pages.
    Truffle Brownies


    15 min
    Inactive Prep
    1 hr 0 min
    20 min
    1 hr 35 min


    * 2 eggs
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1 cup sugar
    * 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    * 1 stick margarine
    * 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
    * 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    * Chocolate ganache for topping, recipe follows
    * Special equipment: 9-inch round foil cake pan


    Heat (preheat is an grammatically incorrect) oven to 350 degrees F.

    Using a hand held electric mixer, beat the eggs and salt together in a large mixing bowl until frothy. Add the sugar and beat until the eggs are thick and pale yellow, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and beat an additional 30 seconds.

    Put the margarine and chocolate in a microwave safe container and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir to insure that the chocolate has melted. Microwave an additional 30 seconds, if needed.

    With the mixer running, pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture. Add the flour and beat 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat an additional 30 seconds.

    Spray the cake pan with a pan release spray and pour in the brownie batter. Place the pan on the top rack of the oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes until the center is barely set.* Remove the pan from the oven and let cool. Top with the ganache and place in the freezer for at least 1 hour.

    To serve, remove from freezer and slice immediately. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

    *Cook’s Note: If tested with a toothpick the center will still be gooey. If tested by touch, the center will be soft. It will set once frozen.

    Chocolate Ganache:

    1/2 cup (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

    1/4 cup heavy cream

    Put the chocolate chips and cream into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove the bowl and stir with a whisk or fork until well mixed. Use immediately. If using the ganache later it will need to be reheated.

    Yield: 3/4 cup

    1. Sound’s a lot better than the recipe from “John”.

    2. Where are the truffles?

      1. Ganache would be the truffle part. It’s a chocolate/cream mixture that is generally used to make truffles.


        1. Oh, I was intrigued by the idea of the mushroom-kin truffles being included. This is the ordinary chocolate truffle.

    3. Here’s an even better recipe that takes even less time:

      1) Go to store.
      2) Buy brownies.

    4. preheat is . . . grammatically incorrect
      I am only a Grammar Nazi-in-Training and am willing to put up with a lot of mis-cues but I think that this is one of the cases where the “pre” prefix is okay. If I were a true Grammar Nazi I would say that if you used the term “heat the oven” then you couldn’t start the next step until the oven was heated. Preheat means to start the heating and then do other stuff.

      What do you expect from an engineer?

      … Hobbit

      1. There is nothing in the directions to indicate one step must be completed before the next step can begin. Any experienced cook knows that multiple tasks can be occurring simultaneously. Tomatoes can be diced while other ingredients are cooking etc. etc.

        1. I’d say it is pretty standard to assume you have to follow steps in order in a recipe. The only step in your recipe that can be completed in parallel is heating the oven. Preheat still seems grammatically odd though. As a SW engineer who is used to treating things literally I’d say “Turn the oven on to 350 degrees F.” and later “Wait until oven has reached 350 degrees”.

    5. That’s not gonna survive 16 months in storage in an MRE.

  4. Obsessively detailed regulations are usually made that way so that a specific favored contractor is the only one eligible to bid on the job.

    Big Brownie, yo.

    1. You find the libertarian Catch-22 in all sorts of places…

      1. If our love of excessive regulation leads to crony capitalism, something we also love, can it truly be called a Catch-22, instead of a happy coincidence?

    2. Actually, it’s the exact opposite: the spec is written in that way so that any buffoon off the street can bid on the job.

      If they wanted a specific guy, they’d have used (past tense, it’s expressly prohibited now) “brand-name or equal” (e.g. “Brownies shall conform to Entenmann’s [insert product code here] or equivalent”).

      1. These specs are the codification of institutional memory. Back in WWII, they would have K-rations of corn, but they were required by law to take the lowest bidder, so our soldiers got the cheapest thing that a reasonable person would call “corn”, blech! So they would try to stick to suppliers with a reputation for quality, until some outsider brings a lawsuit against the cozy relationship between the Pentagon and existing suppliers. So they write a spec like this one: meet this spec and you can bid, too!

        Yeah, the spec fudges a bit, organoleptically and all that, but it is good enough that a judge and jury can, if it comes to pass, nail a crooked contractor to the wall for baking brownies with rotten walnuts.

        Diseconomies of scale like this is why most restautrants are small businesses, and the large ones, like McDonalds, have procedure books that verge on becoming military-style specs.

  5. THIS is why I love government!

    1. Sing it, brother! Power to the obfuscators!

      1. Not controlling enough. We need more regulations. And libertarianism is despotic.

        1. Baking brownies contributes to global climate change! The science is you-know-whatted!

          1. All brownies should be baked solely by union labor. Non-union brownies are unsafe and inferior in quality.

            1. If the Pentagon used shorter recipes, what would stop cooks from changing them? Answer me that, Libertards.

              1. Mellow out, Paul. Here, have some tea.

            2. It’s funny how to some paranoid souls thinking it should be easier for workers to bargain collectively as a union=all labor must be forcibly made union labor!

              1. Non-union labor is so inferior to union labor, the former should be outlawed entirely.

                1. I say that stuff on my radio and TV shows all the time… because it’s true.

    2. Do you know why exhaustive specs like this are required?

      Because private contractors will gladly take a **** in a pan, call it brownies and demand to be paid.

      If the free market could be trusted, this sort of detail would be unnecessary. But they can’t so the government has to spell out every detail for them.

  6. “How come you’re packing fudge, Mr. Cruise?”

    1. Hey! We have a long and proud history of packaging fudge and fudgelike products for shipment! You teabaggers need to stop making fun of us, or we’ll start bustin’ some fuckin’ heads!

    2. Turn over Warty to me or I will unleash Mecha-Steve Smith upon you!

      1. “Mom! Tom Cruise won’t come out of the closet!”

  7. MRE = Meals Ready to Expectorate

    1. Meals, Ready to Excrete
      Meals, Rejected by Ethiopians

      Nothing like checking the sponson box and finding out you’ve got two cases worth of corned beef hash meals and nothing else.

      1. Maybe there is something wrong with me… I actually really like the corned beef hash MREs.

        1. I have been told they have improved since I was in in the early zeros. In the early zeros the only ones I could stand were the vegetarian ones. To be clear, when not in a battlefield environment I was not and never have been vegetarian. When on the battlefield or during exercises I magically become a vegetarian.

  8. Are mil-spec brownies bulletproof?

  9. Are mil-spec brownies bulletproof?

    They put them on the outside of tanks for extra protection, yo. I’ve heard Meals Ready to Eat described as “three lies for the price of one.”

  10. Somehow, this brings to mind “Cookie” from Beetle Bailey. I’m not sure he could read well enough to follow the proper mil-spec recipe. Clearly, a job for Halliburton or Northrup Grumman.

    1. Inchon, Korea, 1950. I was the best cook Uncle Sam ever saw, slinging
      hash for the Fighting 103rd. As we marched north, our supply lines were getting thin. One day a couple of GIs found a crate, inside were six hundred pounds of prime Texas steer. At least it once was prime. The Use date was three weeks past, but I was arrogant, I was brash, I thought if I used just the right spices, cooked it long enough…

      I went too far. I over seasoned it. Men were keeling over all around
      me. I can still hear the retching, the screaming. I SENT SIXTEEN OF MY OWN MEN
      TO THE LATRINES THAT NIGHT! They were just boys!

      1. “It was war. It was a crazy time for everyone.”

        “Tell that to Bobby Colby. All that kid wanted to do was go home. Well he went home alright, with a crater in his colon the size of a cutlet. Had to sit him on a cork the eighteen-hour flight home!”

  11. I don’t know why you made fun of “organoleptically”; it’s a perfectly cromulent word.

  12. I’m going through requirements generation and review now, so I’m getting a kick out of this thread.

  13. I know it seems ridiculous, but when oursourcing food manufacturing, this is pretty standard stuff.

    Any company that is going to produce food items for the military, or any large customer, is going to ask for specs like this.

    This is how consistency is achieved in the food, co-packing business.

    And yes, “organoleptic” sounds goofy, but it is a much used and understood term in the food industry.

    This is NOT a recipe for some Army cook in the field.

    I’m a little disappointed in the spin 🙁

    1. I’d be disappointed if I were surprised.

    2. I understand that these are perfectly standard food industry specs and that each industry has a unique professional jargon. Nonetheless, the point remains that forcing all medicine to procede through a gigantic bureacracy is not going to simplify the process. It’s a simple reverse economy of scale calculation. Above a certain level, the need to organize for a large group becomes less efficient that several small self-organizing smaller groups. And that is also basic US military doctrine, because, for all of its flaws, the US military recognizes better than any other military in the world the necessity of bottom-up self-organizing self-motivated units. The Soviet model of tight central command and control doesn’t work for large formations.

  14. Yeah, these are the people I want in charge of my healthcare.

    1. Why would you want the Pentagon in charge of your healthcare? You’re weird.

  15. I am going to try to use “organoleptic” in at least one sentence a day from now on.

    1. This word, “organoleptic” evokes a different meaning. Like someone with a shaking organ of some sort.

  16. Totally OT, but Jesus Christ on a popsicle stick, are the comments on any remotely controversial CNN story full of stupid. Wow.

    Evidently, one of the questions at Miss USA last night was about Arizona’s new fun immigration law, and it was asked by The Office’s Oscar Nunez. He was fucking booed before he even got done with the question.

    Anyway, the comments on the CNN story are outstanding in their level of vitriol and idiocy.

  17. Okay, here’s the real issue. The army wants to buy six bajillion brownies. You, as a taxpayer, don’t want the army to get ripped off. You, as a taxpayer, also don’t want the contract to go to the procurement colonel’s idiot brother. You, as a taxpayer, also want the finished good to be edible. So somebody has to write a freaking standard. And it looks like this. Go see if you can find the standards Sara Lee uses for contract baking. I bet they’re awfully similar. You can’t have it both ways. Either you write the spec in such a manner to preclude fraud, waste, and abuse, or you get screwed at some point.

    Shit, 34 pages is nothing, especially if it includes packaging. I’ve got, in my office, a spec for purchasing a piece of pipe. Round thing, made of steel, right? It does not cover all grades or sizes. It is for purchasing one size and grade of pipe. It’s 200+ pages, not counting the referenced standards we have to have to be able to understand and comply with the spec. 34 pages for an MRE brownie sounds about right.

    1. Here’s the real issue. I, as a taxpayer, don’t want the army to buy six bajillion brownies to go into MREs because I, as a taxpayer, don’t want there to be a need for six bajillion MREs to feed soldiers in the field becuase I, as a taxpayer, don’t want soldiers to be in the field in counterproductive wars in countries whose residents pose minimal (if any) threat to US taxpayers.

    2. …not a bit of that explanation makes the 34 page recipe anything less than absurd. “Necessary” (relative to purpose), maybe, but still absurd (and seemingly intrinsic to damn-near anything government touches).

      1. It’s not a 34 page recipe. It’s a roughly three page recipe (bottom of page 7 to middle of page 10) for brownies, oatmeal cookies, and chocolate coating for both. The other 23 pages of the 26 page document (I’m not sure where the 34 page number came from) are quality specifications for the ingredients, processing, packaging, handling, acceptance and inspection processes, plus 5 pages of change descriptions from the previous revision.

        I don’t work in the food industry, but speaking as a software person who has worked with government standards and specifications in the past, this document is pretty concise and effective at describing how to make and test the brownies and cookies it covers.

    3. You are correct, but you are missing the big picture. Specs like this are necessary when purchasing brownies on the scale of an organization like the US military. However, it is not necessary that there exist an organization on the scale of the US military for me to have a business transaction with my doctor. Hense, ideally, no such massive organization would be created. It would be superfluous to my requirements, and would exist primarily to fund itself.

  18. What’s an MRE?

    Sorry, Katherine, your post isn’t up to MILSPEC — you have to define your terms first.

    When I was a passenger on the USS Lawrence (DDG-4) I noticed the captain had a book in his cabin called something like “Standard Operating Procedure, US Ships Class DDG-4,” which was about a foot thick. These were his instructions on how everything on the ship was supposed to be run.

    The main difference I’m going to guess between the brownie recipe & Obamacare is that with the brownie recipe, long as it may be, at the end you’ll have brownies.

    1. This.

  19. To answer the obvious question: No, there are no standards for the production of “special brownies.”

    If I recall correctly, the specs for “those” brownies are in “Section 420: Acapulco Goldies”

    1. That should be “Section 420:Afghani Hashies”. yummmmmm.

  20. So Katherine Ward-Mangu must be Reason’s token stupid cunt, right? How cute.

    1. I take it you have no actual substantive argument against her article?

      1. Edward Edna Morris Lefiti whatever never has a substantive argument. The other leftists even ignore him.

        1. That’s a sad, sad life when your own kind rejects you outright or just uses you when it’s convenient.

          Much like a Palestinian in the Arab world.

          Poor Edwardna Morfiti.

  21. What? No requirement that the brownies be “Buy American Act” compliant? If taxpayer brownies are being used, shouldn’t the documentation be in place to make sure contractor selects ingredients and labor that return our tax dollars to our country? Make the process longer and more complex, I say!

    1. “Buy America Act” stuff, if applicable, would be in the contract itself: this is just the spec.

      And if you don’t like that sort of thing, don’t blame the hapless Army: blame your congressman.

      During one of the periodic attempts at acquisition streamlining, I was asked to figure out which regs were congressionally mandated and which were (as we would say) self-inflicted wounds.

      Turns out that most of the congressionally-mandated ones were preferences: either set-asides of various types, or what we refer to generically as “domestic content provisions”, in which category the BAA naturally falls.

  22. Are these brownies halal?

    1. Fuck that… are they kosher?

    2. They are the brownies of western oppression! Death to the Great Satan! Death to all infidels!

  23. Wow…only 34 pages. Makes me want to get out of the aerospace business and into baking.

    Shit….specs for just about anything used on a plane typically run over 100 pages.

    And yes – this is typical.

    Bitch / observation on outsourcing: If you’re going to outsource the production of any component or product, the specification for said product must be very detailed. In fact, it must be more detailed than if you were going to do it yourself. If you were baking yourself, OF COURSE you’d use clean water. But if you want the other guy to do so, you have to specify it.

    1. Yeah, ask Fisher Price about this. They weren’t specific enough for their Chinese suppliers, and they got lead paint and ethylene glycol used in toy manufacturing. And lawsuits. Specs ensure that things are done the same way every time, with the right materials.

      Besides, I guaran-damn-tee you that a government contractor would try to use something hokey in a batch of gub’mint brownies to keep their costs down and profits up. #3 or even #4 walnuts, for example, with plenty of shell pieces. This gives the gub’mint recourse to get rid of bad suppliers. Sadly, this rarely happens.

  24. somewhat old news. i used to work for Boeing, so back in ’85, the spec for fruit cake came to light in the media around the time of $400 hammers. Boeing’s document Control even printed me a copy (only recall it being a few pages long).

    1. I like to explain the $400 hammers. They were made of special metals to be used in a flying fuel tankers (KC-135) on-board fuel bladders so the hammers when struck against metal will never produce the slighest spark. Its not a normal hammer but $400 might be the correct price for a short production run.

    2. I was in the Army around that time. I remember that fruitcake. It was awful. Obviously the recipe was too short by twenty pages.

  25. Basically, the Army is recipe troll-slapping their suppliers, the way some of us were using recipes here to warn others to not feed the trolls.

  26. Eine halbe Tasse Staubzucker
    Ein Viertel Teel?ffel Salz
    Eine Messerspitze t?rkisches Haschisch
    Ein halbes Pfund Butter
    Ein Teel?ffel Vanillenzucker
    Ein halbes Pfund Mehl
    Einhundertf?nfzig Gramm gemahlene N?sse
    Ein wenig extra Staubzucker
    … und keine Eier

    In eine Sch?ssel geben
    Butter einr?hren
    Gemahlene N?sse zugeben und
    Den Teig verkneten

    Augenballgro?e St?cke vom Teig formen
    I’m Staubzucker w?lzen und
    Sagt die Zauberw?rter
    Simsalbimbamba Saladu Saladim

    Auf ein gefettetes Backblech legen und
    Bei zweihundert Grad f?r f?nfzehn Minuten backen und

    Bei zweihundert Grad f?r f?nfzehn Minuten backen und
    Keine Eier

    1. Cite me bitch.

  27. Wonder if the Pentagon has a recipe for magic brownies…

    … Only high-quality marijuana in compliance with “Regulations Governing the Inspection of Cannabis and Cannabis Products” (7 CFR Part 59) may be used.
    . . .

    a. Whip eggs in large bowl on high speed until light and fluffy.
    b. In order to properly extract the THC from the cannabis, it is necessary to melt the butter and add finely chopped greens.
    3.3.2.b.i. After cooking butter slowly at low temperature (as specified in 4.5.1, 95% by weight of all remaining organic matter must be removed using cheesecloth which conforms to cheesecloth standards in MIL-C 30293.
    . . .

  28. I’m going to sit on the side of the road with my begging bowl and a sign which says:


    Please Help.

    1. If you tell people it means you fly into uncontrollable rages when people boast about eating organic, I’ll drop $50 a week on you, and an extra $50 if you actually Hulk out on some self-righteous locavoracious loser.

      1. We’re working on adding organolepsy to the Social Security disability list.

  29. 3 ways to do everything: the right way, the wrong way, and the Army way.

    Consistency is the goal, mediocrity an acceptable consequence.

  30. I’d gladly donate some brownies Danny-Thomas-style to the pentagon.

  31. I looked this Spec up on the DLA website for public standards. It seems that the standard was put out of use in 1997.
    My favorite part is the requirement for a first article test.

  32. Comedy gold.

    DoD instructions for, say, folding a shirt aren’t any better, but they’re a great insomnia cure.

  33. Doesn’t anybody else get a whiff of too-good-to-check from this recipe? (Snopes has nothing.)

    It’s still freakin’ hilarious, though.

  34. WTH is

    Shouldn’t the actual Pentagon brownie recipe be hosted on or or something?

  35. There are so many typos in that “recipe” that I question the authenticity.

    1. Question no more. The official copy has plenty of typos:…../44072.pdf

  36. Well, if brownies can engender such a range and number of comments, perhaps 26 page recipes are just about the right length!

  37. Can’t be real. The use of semi colons is atrocious and chocolate is spelled wrong in the title.

    1. If you’ve ever had institutional food, you’ll know that that’s not a misspelling. It’s not chocolate, it’s “cocolate”. Sort of like “Malk”.

    2. If you ever have a lot of free time on your hands and turn to reading Army ALARACTs, you’d be surprised at just how many typos those guys make. And silly ones at that, I particularly enjoyed “recouperation”.

    3. In a similar vein, I looked at the specs for packaging, and there is no way that a bag designed to those specs will be inflexible as called for in the scope of the document.

      1. I think that was a typo, too — “inflexible bags” should have been “in flexible bags”. But then it’s a milspec — they are designed to be inflexible.

  38. Seems so obvious now why the military budget is so massive!

  39. It’s real. It’s one of the spec for foods that go into Meals, Ready to Eat (MRE). Items have to meet minimum nutrition and long shelf-life requirements so spec is necessary. See…../mre25.asp

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  41. Those remind me of the brownies we had in ‘Nam.

  42. I’ll bet that any outfits that produce those brownies for the military using the spec also charge an arm and a leg for them.

  43. I remember these brownies from my Navy days, and honestly they’re not very good. I rarely ate them.

    Anecdote: Our cooks used the same dough for everything: bread, cinnamon rolls, “pretzels”, buns, pizza crust. The monotony was terrible. During a long deployment in the Indian Ocean, some old civilian guys were sent out to train our cooks for a week. We had different doughs! And wonderful! Mmmm, the caramel rolls . . .

    The civilian guys left. Everything went back to monotony. Aurgh.

  44. Did y’all actually read the milspec before going off about ridiculous levels of detail and regulation. The is not only about brownies. The document also covers the making of oatmeal cookies.

    Double value in a mere 26 pages if you ask me.

    BTW, The DoD is not unique when it comes to this. I just recently had to deal with a corporate document that that particular company’s detailed specs for implementing an international LABELING spec. The corporate doc is nearly 400 pages. I don’t even want to try and lift the international one the corporate one is distilled from.

    Another corporation I am familiar with has over 200 pages in a document detailing the information they want suppliers to put into shipping and receiving labels.

  45. -I spent over ten years working in for a government contractor as a contract manager. Most of my time was spent reviewing the G*d only knows how many linear feet of federal acquisition regulations that changed names three times in those ten years: from ASPR to DAR to FAR.
    -If you want to know about color, go to Federal Standard (FED STD) 595; I’m sure that the color of the brownies is in MIL-C-44072C somewhere. By the way, the “C” indicates this is the third revision of MIL-C-44072; the revision history is in the document somewhere.
    -I agree that the specs tend to go to extremes and make good jokes, but they do serve a purpose. Many of the specs have become industry standards in various areas and, conversely, many industry standards have been incorporated into mil specs.
    -We did run into serious problems on one contract, however. It turned out that the type of synthetic rubber coating called for by the spec had yet to be invented. Being on the cutting edge is one thing, but…

  46. If you want to reduce the silliness, fix the Federal Standards and Appropriations bills. The military is bound to those rules, so we can’t, in most cases, just go out and buy stuff that is cheaper from Walmart. Our supply system has to get it from specific vendors in specific ways, which drives up the costs and requirements.

    We (being the military) are also guilty a little on requirements: we’ll say we want something to do x, y, z, q, p, and w, when in reality it needs to do x and y. That’s where the acquisition folks are supposed to whittle it down so our food, vehicle, or whatever do a few things well and not many things poorly.

  47. What a ridiculous essay this is. The recipe is not “26 pages” long. Even your post shows the recipe is very short. The document you cite is a specification, not a recipe. What the specification does is lay out standards for suppliers. Really, Reason almost always offers more mature writing than this. Crashing on deadline, were you?

    “Making mock o’ uniforms” and all that, Katherine. Please go back to writing something you know about. This isn’t it.

    1. Wow. And you’re the real Donald Sensing too.

      I believe that its possible that a 26 page long document specifying how to create brownies that conform to the desired product is entirely reasonable AND that is a perfectly reasonable example of why you wouldn’t want to have government take over health care and why a government run health care wouldn’t lead to greater efficiency.

      It’s a simple matter of reverse economies of scale. A massive transaction like government procurement of brownies requires this level of specification, documentation and paperwork. Having this level of paperwork cover transactions between myself and my physician will only lead to higher costs, rather than lower costs. Centralization isn’t an improvement here.

      What exactly is your stake in this? Did you write the brownie specification?

    2. +1

      Anything that has to do with contractor standards for many industries: software, manufacturing, food prep, etc. have to be very specific. But the military isn’t the only one with specifications. See the FDA regulations for calling something ketchup.

  48. On Faithful vs. Loyal….

    The difference IS important to those that serve, and is therefore not silly.

    You could also note that it is important in that “Faithful” has slightly more of a religious overtone. I posit that The Marine Corps is a religion. (and I say that with the utmost respect)

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