A buddy recently forwarded me the 26-page recipe for military brownies. Yikes!
To be fair, these are MRE-style brownies, so they need to be able to sit on a shelf for a thousand years and still be moist and delicious. And many of the pages refer to the packaging. But still, it does seem excessive, doesn't it?
Now, I'm no brownie expert. It's entirely possible the 26-page spec is exactly the simplest, shortest and most concise recipe possible, given the rigorous operational demands we place on these combat brownies. We certainly don't want a situation where a dude in combat opens his MRE brownie and discovers it's inedible, moldy, etc. Eating MRE's sucks enough in the first place, and no doubt brownies are the highlight of the meal.
But when the AF built the F-16 Falcon, the Request For Proposal was 25 pages long. Proposals were limited to 50 pages. Should the explanation of how to make and package a brownie really be longer than a statement of need (and more than half as long as the proposals) for an advanced fighter jet?
I bet we could do better than that.