EL PASO, Texas -- There were no surprises as to the most popular food items from various Meals Ready to Eat that 402nd Field Artillery Brigade Soldiers recently shared with their Partners in Education students at Dr. Sue Shook Elementary School.

"They all liked the gum and other candy like the Skittles, naturally," said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Cline. Cline gave a briefing about the MREs and then used the gum and other items as prizes for those students who correctly answered quiz questions about the MREs afterwards.

While the students said their recent Thanksgiving meals were much better, they did find some of the MRE main dishes actually tasty.

"I liked it. It was very good, like the food my mom cooks," said Leandro Rodriguez, 9, after he sampled the chicken and vegetables entree the Soldiers cooked.

Angel Garcia, 10, also liked it.

"It tasted just like real food," Garcia said. "I wasn't sure how it would taste coming out of a box, but it was good."

Sgt. Matthew Brewer, another presenter, said he was surprised how much the students liked the MREs.

"It was funny; they looked at the Hooah bar -- they called it Hula bar -- and they weren't so sure they wanted to try it. But those who were brave enough to try it, did like it," Brewer said. "But, by far, the cheese spread was the most popular. The kids were grabbing two and three pieces of the wheat bread with the cheese and were asking for more."

Some of the students were familiar with MREs, either through a parent or friend associated with the military. One student, Hannah Thomas, 10, said she was disappointed that the newer versions of MREs that the Soldiers brought with them no longer had the "cute, teeny-tiny little bottle of Tabasco sauce."

"This was definitely a popular presentation with the students. They learned quite a bit while having lots of fun," said Monica Dominguez, school counselor and a Texas School Counselor of the Year winner. "They always like doing things with the Soldiers and talking about all things military. And, of course, what kid doesn't like snacks?"