Sweets and treats in a survival situation



I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

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We all like to think about and imagine how SHTF will change us, but it is almost impossible to know how we will react on whole set of new things that SHTF will bring to us.

People think that it will be something like sharp cut and prompt change, like today it is SHTF and we are different people with different reactions. It would be cool, but it is not like that for most of us.

Some changes will happen over the time, and we may not be aware of it at all. One of the obvius changes (and probably most interesting changes for online community of preppers because of movies) is different relationship to violence issues, for example over the time you learn to react different to violence, and doing violence.

Other may be living with dirt and being more dirty and accepting it. With each accepting of the above you are kinda losing your old life, becoming different.

Also some small things can provoke you to act like animal, some things that remind you of your old and normal life. Today I want to speak about experience I had during my time in war. It is related to this time of the year with christmas and holidays coming. It is about treats and pleasures.

Once, few months after the s. hit the fan, during one of the constant tours to find anything useful I stumbled across something special. This gives you idea how “low” you go, or better how high our standards are now. It showed me how thin that layer is that makes us „normal“ people.

It was around midnight and we chose some partially ruined house as a temporary shelter from fire outside and rain too. I was with friend there. We chose one room inside house which still had part of the ceiling above our heads to shelter from rain.

We were smoking one cigarette passing it between us when I realized that I actually sit on some box that is partially buried under the rubble. We started to dig and clear trash from it.

After few minutes we found out that it is big military wooden box, used for long term storing of various items. When SHTF and everything fell apart I remember seeing people dragging similar boxes from army storages.

It was pretty heavy, obviously full of whatever.

Of course we immediately started to imagine what could be inside, ammo, weapons, boots, maybe uniforms… My friend already whispered: „man, imagine, new boots maybe?“

When we opened it at the first moment in dark I thought it is full of some small toys or similar, because I saw big pile of small plastic packages, but then I took few of those small items and I froze like someone pointed rifle in my face from that box.

It was full of small packaged cocoa spreads, kinda like cheap spreads that can be served in hotels with your breakfast, or in this case it was probably meant to be used for military meals or similar. Something that you could find in a version of MRE.

It was cheap stuff and not really tasteful, in normal times I would not eat that stuff. It was like you trying to chew sweetened sand.

In that moment I could barely remember when I ate something sweet, something like junk sweet, chocolates, bars, candys, cakes or similar. If you ever go on longer hiking trip and eat same stuff every day for just 2 weeks and then come back to civilization and eat something you have experienced something like this. Now imagine months. My friend said: „Man! Screw the boots, this is jack pot“.

I do not remember how much of that stuff I ate there in that room with view on half ceiling and half rainy night, but I remember seeing my friend eating that stuff on a way that he put whole thing inside his mouth, chew the plastic package, eat spread, then spit chewed plastic.

Probably I eat it in same way, it helps that in dark we did not see how dirty the packages were, and of course nobody even remember to check expiration date.

I would eat even if it was printed „expired“ on it, or maybe even „toxic from Chernobyl“. It did not matter.

It was so sweet and good in that moment. It was not only food, calories, energy if you want. It was something like drug for us. Reminder of normal days. With chewing it and eating it we were living normal life for some time I guess.

I chewed it, and I know in that moment that I am probably gonna have some serious problems with my stomach that it „forgot to process“ stuff like that but I did not care.

People said that in some moments you can be turned in animal, you can be driven by simplest and maybe lowest instinct. And in the same time they imagine that happens only in certain situations, combat, great fear or similar. That’s not true.

I experienced before and later many similar events and feelings, many fights, blood, fears, you name it. But that event with those cocoa spreads was something weird.

Later while I was crouching outside my house, having diarrhea and throwing up at same time, I felt like shit, but I did not regret or wanting to trade eating all of those cocoa spreads. I kept some for myself and from time to time I ate it in something like ritual.

When all was finished, and war was over I forgot that. Years later I found something very similar like that spread. I bought it and tried it. It didn’t taste good at all, and I threw it away.

Point is that you never know how much you will appreciate things, until actually SHTF. So for your preps, stock some “pleasure goods” like cocoa drink mixes in little sachets or coffee mix, they will be valuable.

For the holiday season take your meal or treats sometimes with you to a place quiet and without distraction and enjoy them. It is easy to forget what we have now, so I encourage everyone be extra grateful in coming days.

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20 Responses

  1. Hard candy. IT will last longer than time it’s self if kept in a dry and sealed container. over the top flavorfull candy like “jolly ranchers” are your best bet. Found a couple of cinnamon ones at the bottom of a drawer lately that I knew were 3 years old. Tasted just like a brand new fresh one.

    Chocolate starts to deteriorate on it’s own, while rock/hard candy is highly stable. Pick your sweets carefully.

  2. We like Atomic Fire Balls candy. Cinnamon flavored jaw breakers, they last about 15 minutes if you just let them melt in your mouth. A bit hot (Atomic? :^) so they help keep you awake, pretty useful feature we use for early morning deer hunts. We’ve had some for several years and have seen no evidence of degredation, they are individually plastic wrapped.

    Your last passage reminds of the book ‘Alas Babylon’ and the iron rations package. One of the characters at the beginning had stocked a small foil wrapped package with small packages of luxuries, to be opened in a time of emergency. Instant coffee and chocolate I think were part of it. Pretty good idea, I wonder if tobacco can be stored air tight plastic, I’m sure A LOT of people would really enjoy it after 6 months of cold turkey . . .

    1. If you are in the USA, there are a lot of things you can pick, dry and smoke. Look up what the american indians used to smoke. Granted if you bug-in urban style, then you will not have anything in nature to use.

      A tobacco variation called kinnic kinnick , which is the bark of the red willow and non-hallucinatory. The bark of the red willow has a pleasant aroma, and served in the old days as a substitute, when tobacco was scarce on the great plains.

      1. Why so desperate to smoke something? Of all the things to worry about at such a time I can’t imagine spending time looking for something to smoke.

        1. It is no different than Alcohol or other vices.

          I don’t drink alcohol but I stock up on it;
          It makes great barter material,
          It can be used as a fuel if it’s over 100proof, and
          It can be used as a disinfectant.

          There are many things that are wise to stock up on even if you don’t use them.

          We all think about the obvious items but there is so much about the little things that we don’t think about until we are without them that can make a huge difference between staying alive and living.

          Thanks again for another enlightening article Selco!


  3. I just got back in from days of deer hunting where I sat on a ridge overlooking a beautiful sunswept 600yd valley with me, my rifle, thankfulness, silence and contemplation. Most every day when I get home from work I eat a bowl of ice cream. I eat it because I know what it was like to not be able to and I really enjoy it. My wife thinks I’m nuts and maybe I am but I don’t take things for granted. I enjoy the little things.
    I have listened to people my whole life from the 30s, the wars and the disasters and payed attention to what they said. I have lived thru a few things myself and was where Selco was as a “peacekeeper” and saw the difference small things made in Quality Of Life.
    (yes I know the unpopular views of survivalist and the UN however it was my duty at the time and we stayed under US control of that WE made sure)

  4. It could also be invaluable for barter. Especially if your customer has a kid who has ‘accidentally’ seen the sweets. You think it’s hard as an adult resisting the urge for candy or chocolate? 🙂 Imagine them trying to shut their kid up, so they can do business. They’ll be even more inclined to trade just to get their kid quiet.

    Sweets are a universal addiction. All ages. All cultures.

  5. I purchased quite a few DATREX, Mainstay and SOS food bars for the multiple survival kits, backpacks and Bug Out Bags that I made in the past 2 years. God forbid, if we do experience long term crisis or disaster situation, my family will probably get sick of those type of sweets (cookies). I also bought a bunch of fruit bars and fruit snacks. Most survival experts recommend high calorie food for short term scenarios. I was glad to fulfill those orders. We did vacuum seal a few bags of chocolate chips and stored with our canned/jarred (pressure cooked) food. I definitely have a sweet tooth! Although I only eat one main course per day, I must have chocolate after each meal.

  6. This amused me because I just bought a pile of hard candy and would have bought more but my wife stopped me. K Mart.. they often have “clearout ” specials. They had reduced small bags of hard candy from $1… then 50c… and then had a shopping cart full..@ 20c. I figured it was about the same price as sugar.. so I bought 50 bags. I put them in a sealed plastic bucket. Great for your bugout bag, a few in your “altoids” pack. Just to give you a little energy boost… or a little treat as Selco found. And as someone said.. they will last forever.
    I have also picked up at K Mart… butane cannisters for 25c, webbing straps for 25c. All go in the “survival” stash.
    I take Selco’s advice seriously. Small backpacs.. I just bought another one ($5 ) at a charity sale. How many do you need.?. my wife asks…. ( I have no answer….). The $ go to charity.. no problem.

  7. I have a food saver and about 5 years ago put up some chocolate candy bars. Guess what! We decided to try one of the bags of the candy bars and they were still the right color and tasted wonderful. We have put up over large 2 plastic bins with sealed lids full of sweets from hard candy to chocolate and candy corn. With the food saver sealing each little bag and keeping in a cool dry place the sweets remain fresh and tasty.

    We also do one other thing. Whenever we go out of town and stay in a hotel we keep the coffee and tea that the hotels provide each room. We’ve been certain to ask if we can keep these for our private use and most often then not the hotel offers us even more! I bring them home along with the little packets of tea, sugar, napkin and stir sticks and pack 2 of the coffees (one decaf one regular) 2 teas and one packet in each food saver bag. Now they are all ready for barter!! (we don’t drink coffee or tea so it has no other use for us).

    1. Coffee and tea packets are going to be more valuable than candy. Most adults are addicted to coffee so if you have a source you can get a lot for those. I would also buy some coffee filters and put TWO in each pack you make. they are invaluable for more than just coffee, you can strain a lot of goo out of water with them.

      Very good idea, I need to start making “trade packets” like that as well.

  8. I read once about sugar and the effect it had on fur trappers and gold miners who got stuck in the mountains in winter and had to wait until spring to be able to leave their cabin. The stockpile of sugar became more valuable than the gold they were mining. Men killed each other over it. Men who were friends would kill each other for sugar. When there is 4 feet of snow and you can’t hunt and there are only dry goods to eat day after day, sugar becomes like a drug. They would simply eat plain sugar by the spoonful. Somehow it helped them when they were trapped in a small cabin with nothing to do and no place to go.

  9. Besides stocking considerable amounts of canned coffee, I also purchased a few cases of JOLT gum. It is loaded with caffeine and sugar. I put a pack in all my Bug Out Bags and survival kits. For those of that drink coffee every single day, I will offer this experience: A doctor put me on a NO CAFFEINE diet for 10 days in 1999. I would never have suspected it, but I EXPERIENCED WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS the first day. I had a headache that would not go away and I had trouble making a bowel movement. That made my stomach hurt. I sweated profusely and was more than just irritable. Near the end of the first day, my wife said “Open a Mt Dew and take a few sips!” I did. WA-LA! I felt better almost immediately. At that point in my life, I had been drinking 1 or 2 cups of coffee every morning for almost 20 years. Now, I consume even more caffeine per day. I realize that any crisis/disaster situation that disrupts the distribution of common groceries will have an adverse effect on far more that daily nutrient requirements! If you are accustomed to coffee every day, please consider a caffeine source in your preparations!

    1. @Irish-7, and everyone!

      When you mentioned your withdrawal symptoms, you hit a nerve in my brain!

      ALL THESE coffee addicts [myself very much included!] are going to be like that within 12 to 18 hours after they can no longer get to coffee! SODA likewise-like your Mountain Dew!

      Talk about your zombie scenarios! OMG!

  10. While I cannot argue the logic of storing items, these supplies will eventually run out. What I’m trying to hoard is knowledge. The knowledge of how to tap trees for sap or use the bark for syrups is something that will never run out. The syrups can then be used to sweeten any drink or combined with herbs for cough syrups. Now my “stash” goes wherever I go…

  11. Good post.

    Regarding longer term “treats” issues, and bearing in mind the comments above on sugar, also consider for your gardening plan(t)s: STEVIA and SOURGHUM.

  12. Alsos regarding caffeine and addictions: even a few sodas per day (total dose something like 100-200 mg) can, when discontinued abruptly, lead to significant withdrawal symptoms.

    Minimizing problems should one’s favored supply of _________ be cut off is a good idea for now, not then.

    Yet as Twain (Mark, not Shania) remarked, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it thousands of times.”

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