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From the Gatling gun to the nuclear bomb, from hot air balloons to drones, the military has enlisted scientists to develop evermore-effective war technologies. But now comes a long-sought scientific breakthrough that the military brass considers the ultimate advantage for battlefield effectiveness: Ready to eat pizzas.
With the spare-no-expense determination usually associated with something like the Manhattan Project, teams of the best scientific minds at the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center have been focused intently on this secret Pizza Project. It seems that the combat troops have been asking, even begging, that the individual field rations they get – called Meals Ready to Eat – include pizza.
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Not easily done, however. MREs are prepackaged, shipped to faraway combat zones, and stored for months. Problem is that the sauce, cheese, and toppings of pizza contain moisture that turns the dough soggy, allowing bacteria to grow, spoil the pie, and poison the eaters. Using humectants, food engineers were able to stop the moisture from reaching the dough, but that was not the end of it, for the Army was gunning for the holy grail of MREs: A prepackaged pizza that could be stored in 80-degree heat without refrigeration for three years… and still be “fresh.”
At last, the scientists have announced, V-P day! By adding acid to the ingredients and iron filings to the packaging, science has triumphed over nature, delivering a pizza that’s literally for the ages.
Perhaps you’re wondering, about taste? Well, picky-picky. After three years, the crust is not exactly crisp, and the things are not served hot, so these are hardly the pies of Mario Batali. However, Mario doesn’t do battlefield deliveries. But wait – maybe that would be a good use of drones. Someone call Amazon!
“Military nears holy grail: Pizza that last 3 years,” Austin American Statesman, February 15, 2014.