The US Military Has Created Pizza That Stays Edible for Three Years

Reheated pizzas are hardly fine dining, but for men and women in the armed forces, it’s a big deal.

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Feb 11 2016, 3:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Dana

If you're putting your life on the line to defend the most powerful military nation on Earth, then you should be entitled, whenever possible, to enjoy the same basic rights as those back home.

One of those inalienable rights is eating pizza, and now, for the first time, troops on the ground will be able to rip open a pouch and enjoy the hot slice of freedom known officially as MRE #37. MRE is US military jargon for "Meal, Ready-to-Eat," the prepackaged field rations that fuel troops in America's various combat theaters.

MUNCHIES spoke with Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, an author and expert on industrial food science and military technology, about the long-awaited arrival of MRE pizza. "This the first MRE pizza," Marx de Salcedo says. "Pizza was consistently the most requested food item by soldiers."

READ: The Army Will Pay You to Eat Nothing but MREs for 3 Weeks

Developed by US Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), MRE #37 has the unique quality of remaining edible for three years. "It can be served at room temperature and after having sat around for up to three years, but the MRE pizza will be a taste of home in the field," according to Marx de Salcedo.

Needless to say, reheated pizzas are hardly fine dining, but for men and women in the armed forces, it's a big deal. "Pizza is popular among soldiers because everyone loves pizza," says Marx de Salcedo. "At this point, it's an American staple food, so much so that soldiers stationed thousands of miles away in the desert are fantasizing about a hot slice."

And, according to reports from Tech Insider, the battlefield pizzas actually taste pretty good. One of the scientists at NSRDEC told Tech Insider that MRE #37 tasted something like "day-after pizza."

But flavor aside, piling tomato sauce and cheese onto ever-fresh bread presented a formidable technical challenge for the food scientists at Natick Labs. "Pizza was a huge development challenge because it's a multi-component food—you have the crust, the sauce, the cheese, and maybe a topping," says Marx de Salcedo.

"The big challenge for Natick was to figure out a way to keep the crust crisp, the sauce saucy, and the cheese gooey. That was achieved by controlling something called water activity for each component, and if I recall correctly, using a nano-thin basil film to separate the different layers."

According to Natick Labs, the pizza pouches will become available to men and women in uniform in 2017. They deserve a good pizza party.