1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

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das
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1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by das » Sun May 17, 2009 10:19 am

Hi folks - I've been lurking for...an embarrassingly long time. I thought the folks around here might like this. Of note, the full photoset can be found on Flickr.

A friend recently handed this off to me during his move - it came with his house, and appears to have been originally purchased by the first owners. This is a Karry Kit survival kit packed by Perma Pack, a company in Salt Lake City. Interestingly, at least one Internet based preparedness store appears to carry modern Perma Pak kits.

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The kit is approximately 50 years old if the dates in the booklet are to be trusted, and all of the cans are still intact. The water cans still have water sloshing in them!

Contents are listed on the side:
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They are:
  • 6 cans of water
    10 and 1/3 oz of pemmican
    9 oz Yukon biscuits
    9 oz malted milk energy tablets
    9 oz tropical chocolate
    8 multivitamin tablets
    water purification tablets
    heat tablets
    nylon rope
    matches
    a signal whistle
    can opener
    needle and thread
    fish hook and leader
    safety pins
    wet naps
    cleaning tissue
    survival boolket
Everything but the rope is also in a can, with an attached P-38 style can opener. The rope is cheap nylon - a step up from shoe laces, and a step below clothesline.

Removed from the package, this doesn't feel like a 6 day supply even for one person, although it is pretty compact. Imagine living for 6 days on 60 ounces of water and the contents of three cans.

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Each can is labeled as a two day supply of food. It might be at that, as I'm not sure I could eat pemmican, Yukon biscuits, and and tropical chocolate every day for almost a week. Also note that they used invert syrup as an ingredient - inverted syruup is typically more stable than sucrose and makes sense in this sort of survival food.

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And the survival items are in a separate can.

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Once you opened your cans, you were expected to survive following the directions in the included booklet, "Staying Alive!". Presumably, the Bee Gees stole the idea and improved significantly on it.

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There's a whole half a page on fallout survival, greatly increasing your chances if the Soviets nuked you and you had to eat survival malted milkballs. As noted, "Fallout is dangerous!".

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All in all, this kit is a treat - an interesting reflection on the issues of the time, and a reminder that we're not the first people to worry about preparedness.

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by mk_ultra » Sun May 17, 2009 10:24 am

That is super-cool . Thanks for posting this . :D
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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by liberty45 » Sun May 17, 2009 10:38 am

mk_ultra wrote:That is super-cool . Thanks for posting this . :D
+1 That is definitely some good preparedness memorabilia!

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by mad scientist » Sun May 17, 2009 11:10 am

Wow.. cool kit. New rule: no lurking for months at a time if you have cool shit that we want to see pictures of!
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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by OrangeJoe » Sun May 17, 2009 11:50 am

Thanks for posting. I hope the next home owner will be able to find that intact with his home.

Maybe you can pack a modern version and leave it beside that 50's model if you ever move.
:)
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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by Jeriah » Sun May 17, 2009 11:53 am

das wrote:Removed from the package, this doesn't feel like a 6 day supply even for one person, although it is pretty compact. Imagine living for 6 days on 60 ounces of water and the contents of three cans.
For six days, the food is basically just comfort. Nobody starves to death in six days. Pemmican and biscuits and chocolate is probably about as good as you can do for some compact high-energy food. Nobody's going to be asking for a doggy bag if the disaster ends early, but it'll do.

The water is a more serious issue. 10 ounces of water a day is just barely enough to keep your tongue wet for a day. If it's cool out, and you're not moving around, you might be alright...but those biscuits and pemmican seem like they'd make you pretty thirsty. There are water purification tablets in the kit, of course, but they won't do you any good if there's no water at all, or if the only water there has fallout in it.

At any rate, I think a lot of the Cold War era preps were to give a sense of confidence and peace of mind to a civilian population so as to avoid panic. Sure, this kit would be better than nothing if some nukes hit your neighbors, but honestly, six days isn't very long to let fallout wash away etc., even assuming that you're able to ration its contents that long.

Cool find, thanks for posting!
Image

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by Jacob Creutzfeldt » Sun May 17, 2009 11:58 am

Are you planning on trying the food and water? :shock:
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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by das » Sun May 17, 2009 12:05 pm

Jacob Creutzfeldt wrote:Are you planning on trying the food and water? :shock:
Nope! This is entirely a display piece for me. It will go on a shelf in my hobby room and I'm sure it will get as many neat reactions as my Civil Defense Geiger counter does.

Jeriah, you're entirely correct that the water supply is the greater concern. This is much more like some of the 72 hour kits that are sold now with foil water packets and a short term, relatively energy dense food supply. The cans of water remind me of the canned water that was shipped for Katrina survivors - the same ideas keep coming around.

Interestingly, the house did not have a fallout shelter or bunker - this appears to have simply been their basement emergency preparedness kit, and was stored in a large interior pantry, which was probably the best compromise that the house provided.

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by Erik » Sun May 17, 2009 12:19 pm

OPEN THEM!!!! (and take pictures!)

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by liberty45 » Sun May 17, 2009 1:03 pm

Erik wrote:OPEN THEM!!!! (and take pictures!)
Agreed.

Also eat one can and then post after action report (either from home or hospital) :mrgreen: Just kidding. Bulging cans = no no just remember that!

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by das » Sun May 17, 2009 1:20 pm

liberty45 wrote:
Erik wrote:OPEN THEM!!!! (and take pictures!)
Agreed.

Also eat one can and then post after action report (either from home or hospital) :mrgreen: Just kidding. Bulging cans = no no just remember that!
Thus resulting in a short piece of zombie non-fiction about the effects of 50 year old pemmican and malted milk tablets...

I'm afraid that for now, these will remain unopened. They're such a neat piece of history to have that I prefer to leave them intact.

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by coleslilwitch » Sun May 17, 2009 1:49 pm

What a cool gift you were given! It'll look great in anyone's collection.

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by Alchemyguy » Sun May 17, 2009 1:52 pm

Geez, don't open them. I'm a big fan of scientific exploration, but that's for the old can of peaches you find cleaning out your grandmother's pantry when she passes on, not for such neat conversation pieces as these.

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by Ricky Romero » Sun May 17, 2009 1:59 pm

I was just thinking the other day, if this were the 50's we'd be the guys digging giant holes in the backyard for fallout shelters and filling them up with stuff like this.
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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by dogbane » Sun May 17, 2009 2:18 pm

Found info on the Perma-Pak company, including the founder's obituary:
Ken and Alice were married eternally in the St. George Temple in May 1943. They lived in Cedar City, Beaver, and several places in the Salt Lake Valley. In 1954 they founded Perma-Pak a pioneer in assisting with the food storage and emergency preparedness. He was general manager until his health forced him to sell in 1976. LDS church service included bishop's counselor, Elder's quorum president, stake missionary, scout master, High Priest teacher, ward and stake clerk, and temple worker.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_q ... n11501254/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Perma-Pak still sells "Home Goods Storage and Dehydrated And Freeze-Dried Food." Oddly, they have no web site, but do sell through a number of other online third-parties. Here is their Yellow Pages info: http://yellowpages.heraldextra.com/Perm ... .home.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I'm not surprised that the founder was LDS and that they are based in Ogden.
Mostly not here anymore.

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by Chef » Sun May 17, 2009 2:49 pm

Some friends and I found the Civil Defense supplies my college stored up. I think they dated to the original construction of the school, ca. 1959-60. All kinds of neat stuff packed in a big yellow 55-gallon drum with a blue "CD" logo, including candy, Geiger counters, tampons . . . .

That's an interesting apocollectible you have there, Das.
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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by ironraven » Sun May 17, 2009 3:33 pm

A most excellent find! There is some water damage, but considering what it is and how they were stored, it is in pretty good shape. I would not open the cans- as you said, at this point their collector's value is much greater than their remaining food value. Pity about the rust.

The observation that the water supply, and calories in general, are low is consistent with pretty much every kit and kit recommendation from that era that I've seen that wasn't from someone like Angier and others with a lot of backwoods background. I suspect that the reason for this is because most of the folks who were writing had a military background, and most of the military survival perspective focused on life boat survival. (Or decide if you want to link up with locals or try your luck at escaping from a POW camp.) This was also the era when it was thought you could acclimate to reduced water (and radiation). This is the kind of thing were you would grab this, a blanket roll, and get thee to a fallout shelter.

And we still have ghosts of that era today. Look at most of your prepacked kits- the ARK from Mainstay only has like 8-9 ounces of water and 1200 calories per day for three days. And that is one of the better ones. IIRC, the SOLAS requirement is only 125mL/person/day for what is required in a life raft, and USCG has the same requirement. Sure FEMA suggests a gallon a day, but that is a suggestion, not a compliance issue that a manufacturer can hold up and say "see, see, we followed the recognized requirements" if they are trying to save their ass.

Personally, sitting on my ass I do two liters per day.
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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by Night Errant » Sun May 17, 2009 7:44 pm

Jeriah wrote: Nobody starves to death in six days.
No, but flights of stairs begin to be a challenge after about four, in my experience. Food means more than mere comfort, even in the short term. You may not starve after six days without food, but you damn well won't be operating at peak efficiency.
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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by Arch » Sun May 17, 2009 8:02 pm

mk_ultra wrote:That is super-cool . Thanks for posting this . :D
+100

This reminds me of living off of C-Rats that my father brought home when we lived in Germany (1977-1983).

Bravo :D
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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by Murph » Sun May 17, 2009 8:19 pm

das wrote:Everything but the rope is also in a can, with an attached P-38 style can opener. The rope is cheap nylon - a step up from shoe laces, and a step below clothesline.
I would have laughed so hard if they put the can opener inside the can.
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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by das » Sun May 17, 2009 9:53 pm

Murph wrote:I would have laughed so hard if they put the can opener inside the can.
Then the booklet would have to say "If this is your first time reading these instructions, and a nuclear war has occurred, please consider this your contribution to natural selection. You may choose to include the cockroaches in your will at this time if you wish."

I'd have been more impressed if there was an opener for each of the cans - in a real disaster having no backup except smashing them open would be less than ideal. Modern pull tab cans have a real advantage here.

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by Lynxian » Mon May 18, 2009 8:27 am

das wrote:Modern pull tab cans have a real advantage here.
Those always break my fingernails! :(
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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by rpc » Mon May 18, 2009 9:41 am

9 oz Yukon biscuits
....
9 oz tropical chocolate
Boy, that sure brings back memories.

When I was in Boy Scouts, someone gave us some "snack packs" that came from who knows where. At the time, I was under the impression that they dated back to World War 2, although in retrospect, they probably weren't quite that old.

Among other things, these contained a package of six of something called "Bolton Biscuits". These basically looked like giant soda crackers. I think the ones we had were stale, because all of the kids refused to eat them, they tasted to bad. But I ate the darn things anyway, and once you got past the stale taste, they actually weren't bad. I wonder whether these "Yukon biscuits" are the same thing.

But the real treat inside these packages was the Hershey's Tropical Bars. Those things were great. If that's what's in there, I have no doubt that they are still edible after 50 years. The ones we had were discolored on the outside, but they still tasted like chocolate.

These things were designed to not melt out in the tropics, so they were hard. They were so hard that the other guys didn't want to eat them. Instead, they finally melted them under extremely high heat and made hot chocolate out of them. But just like with the stale Bolton Biscuits, I was undaunted just because they were hard as rocks. Once you finally crunched them up in your mouth, those Hershey Tropical bars were great.

I don't think they make them any more, so if you want a guinea pig to taste test the old Hershey Tropical bars, I can probably be talked into it. My insurance is all paid up to date, so what the heck.

If the Yukon Biscuits really turn out to be Bolton Biscuits, I'll probably pass on them though, thanks.

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Re: 1950's Preps - The Karry Kit by Perma Pack

Post by PistolPete » Mon May 18, 2009 10:14 am

That is really, really cool. Thanks for posting it.

I love the little brochure. "Fallout is dangerous". That is great! :)
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