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The Military Idle Science Technology

Scientists Create Pizza That Can Last Years 225

Posted by samzenpus
from the oldest-leftovers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center have created a pizza that can be stored for up to three years while still remaining edible. 'It pretty much tastes just like a typical pan pizza that you would make at home and take out of the oven or the toaster oven,' said Jill Bates who heads up the lab. 'The only thing missing from that experience would be it's not hot when you eat it. It's room temperature.'"
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Scientists Create Pizza That Can Last Years

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  • by Karl Cocknozzle (514413) <kcocknozzle.hotmail@com> on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:14PM (#46262431) Homepage

    The good news is that after three years it still tastes better than Dominos.

    • Ahh.. but it still costs 5 times as much.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:40PM (#46262613)
      The better news is that now MRE's are apparently 'edible'.
      • Re:the good news (Score:5, Informative)

        by Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @09:23PM (#46263441)

        The better news is that now MRE's are apparently 'edible'.

        I never thought they were that bad to be honest. At least they didn't have the 'joys' of the "rocks and custard" (''Fruit' dumplings' in something that is supposed to be butterscotch sauce) desert* we Brits sometimes had in our ration packs.

        That said, I didn't have many MRE's, but the ones I did get were okay. That may have been down to luck, the advice of the US troops I worked with, or it may have been that I could stomach just about anything.

        But not the rocks and custard. That one was just fucking minging.

        *As in, "likely to cause desertion".

        Link showing what a typical British ration pack looked like a few years ago; http://www.arrse.co.uk/wiki/24... [arrse.co.uk]

        • I've eaten quite a few MREs and my opinion, too, is that they're really not bad.

          Of course I can see that having to eat them day after day for a long period can change one's attitude.
      • MRE's have been good for a while. The C Rations sucked.

    • by quenda (644621) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @09:25PM (#46263469)

      Holly: Nothing wrong with UA Army pizza. Full of goodness, full of vitamins, full of marrowbone jelly. Lasts longer than any other type of pizza, US Army pizza.
      Lister: Why?
      Holly: No bugger'll eat it. Plus, of course, the advantage of US Army pizza is that when it goes off, it tastes exactly the same as when it's fresh.
      Lister: Why didn't you tell me, Holly?

  • That's ok (Score:5, Funny)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:15PM (#46262441)

    It would still be warmer than the average delivery pizza.

    • It would still be warmer than the average delivery pizza.

      I bet I could heat it up with The World's Most Powerful Laser!

    • Sounds like you've just got shitty delivery services in your area. I've never had a cold delivery pizza, ever.
      • I have, from a domino's. Then they refused to even so much as take a percentage off the bill for being 3 hours after the delivery time.

        Complaining to corporate got me a call from the GM who told me and I quote "tough shit, we don't care" so I quit ordering from them and will never order from them again. They went from having a weekly order to no order all because one GM is a dick about their own failure.

  • by symes (835608) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:18PM (#46262459) Journal

    If they only just close enough to finalizing the recipe now how do they know it will last three years?

    • Re:Three Years? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:29PM (#46262541)

      If they only just close enough to finalizing the recipe now how do they know it will last three years?

      These guys invent MREs. That's what they do.
      They have years of experience developing and packaging for long term duration.

      As to how good will it taste in three years, that's based on historical analysis of other similar MREs.
      The Spaghetti MREs are pretty good after three years.

      I know guys who actually like MREs, and bought their own supply for hunting trips after the left the service.

      • Re:Three Years? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Deadstick (535032) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @07:01PM (#46262763)

        The Spaghetti MREs are pretty good after three years.

        I know guys who actually like MREs, and bought their own supply for hunting trips after the left the service.

        Many sporting-goods stores stock MREs. Not bad compared to a lot of camping food.

        I went on a field exercise in 1961 with K-Rats packed in 1943...I'd have been delighted to have MREs.

      • by Guspaz (556486)

        I love MREs. I've tried all the US military flavours and all of MealKitSupply's Canadain flavours. I may just be odd, though.

      • by Mashdar (876825)

        I wonder how the vitamin content will look after three years of storage. "Edible" does not mean you are getting vitamins, and AFAIK vitamin C degredation is a big deal -- as Franklin would attest to. [wikipedia.org] (I know nothing of more modern food preservation techniques, so correct me if I'm wrong.)

        • Thanks, now I've got that song in my head.

          # Oh for just one time I would take the Northwest passage
            To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort sea ...

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I know guys who actually like MREs, and bought their own supply for hunting trips after the left the service.

        My dad was one of those guys [wikipedia.org]. He was never really happy outside of the service. Needed someone to tell him what to do.

        • by sjbe (173966)

          My dad was one of those guys [wikipedia.org]. He was never really happy outside of the service. Needed someone to tell him what to do.

          Isn't that what marriage is for? [/rimshot]

          Thank you, I'll be here all night. Tip your waitresses...

    • They went to college; they know that standard pizza will last a month in their dorm, and just extrapolated.
    • Actually 3 year long shelf-stability tests for consumer package food products are not uncommon. One of my college friends, a food technology major, got a summer internship at Nabisco -- what did they have all these foodie interns do? They got to do sampling on shelf stability tests :) Measure, observe, sniff, and.... taste. I asked her if there was ever anything she couldn't bring herself to taste. Answer: "Yes. I had already written 'Looks like dog vomit' and 'Smells like dog vomit' on the report form

  • How do they stop it spoiling ? Bacteria need 3 things to grow: moisture, time and nutrients (something to digest to provide energy). The article says that they keep it moist and try hard to remove oxygen, but things like Anaerobic bacteria [wikipedia.org] don't need oxygen. They make it slighly acidic which might help, but too acidic and it will damage soldiers' teeth. The other way of stopping things growing in it is to remove nutritional content -- which is presumably the reason that soliders need to eat it. Hmmmm.

    • by icebike (68054) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:43PM (#46262635)

      This problem has been solved for decades.
      Check out the Wiki page on how many different menus [wikipedia.org] there are for MREs.

      As for injuring the soldiers' teeth these are combat rations, MREs, stuff you eat when bullets are flying, and therefore the least of your worries.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        This problem has been solved for decades.
        Check out the Wiki page on how many different menus [wikipedia.org] there are for MREs.

        As for injuring the soldiers' teeth these are combat rations, MREs, stuff you eat when bullets are flying, and therefore the least of your worries.

        If you have a choice between MRE's and any other type of food, how many would pick the MRE.

        Making military rations palatable has been a goal since 5 minutes after they made military rations last.

        • by icebike (68054)

          Thats not what a lot of the others here have been saying.
          Have you actually eaten any modern MREs?

          • by mjwx (966435)

            Thats not what a lot of the others here have been saying.
            Have you actually eaten any modern MREs?

            So you'd eat MRE's over other kinds of food?

            I'm guessing you're a life long smoker. Sense of taste is deader than disco.

            And yes, I have eaten an MRE, well actually it was a HDR (Humanitarian Daily Ration, MRE's without a US flag on the pack). The tinned spag was worse than standard tinned spag, bread was hard and had a very odd taste (should have really stuck with biscuits) and the only good thing in the bag was the packet of lollies (skittles).

            BTW, I'm yet to actually read a comment saying they'd

    • by jiriw (444695)

      Well ... maybe they also use some heat/radiation methods to kill bacteria?
      The article mentions using iron filings to remove the oxygen, which makes me suspect they use an air tight container. So, if you manage to not have any bacteria in there, in the first place, and that air tight container is any good, I don't suspect anything living to take a bite from that slice, except when somebody actually intends to do so.

      • by dead_user (1989356) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @09:43PM (#46263583)
        I can assure you the seals on the MRE's are airtight. After Katrina I went through about 5 cases of them myself. The entree's seal is about 8 mils of rubbery but laminated aluminum backed plastic. They have those curls cut in the end that make you think it should be a tear-able edge, but all that happens is the plastic stretches a little. I never had a problem once the knife came out though. Those MRE's are as well sealed as the tires on my car. The M&M's and Skittles were in their standard packaging. The little packets of gum were hard as rocks, and were rumored to contain a mild laxative. I can't speak to that, as I spat them out the instant I stuck them in my mouth. Nasty. I still have a collection of really tiny Tabasco bottles. One with every meal, you know.

        The pasta dishes were by far the tastiest. The chicken cacciatore in particular was quite good. The tomato based sauces were all pretty ok, but they just tasted a little off. Metallic, maybe. The meat entrees suffered a little bit more by the processing. Anything beef was better by than anything pork. The "pork ribs" was a large piece of jerky-style pork pressed into a childs rendition of a Mc-Rib and stored in this weird transparent BBQ sauce preservative. Ewwww. The crackers and packets of peanut butter and jelly were completely normal. The "bread" depended on where the MRE was manufactured. The ones that came from the midwest were better. The bread was a thick fig-newton shaped bar of pressed bread. Ugly as sin, but it tasted OK. The MRE's that were made in the east had bread that was shaped like a bread icon but tasted like cardboard. The only thing that was truly inedible was the omelette. Trust me, trade the omelette for an extra pack of the sport-drink.

        The chemical heaters didn't really do that good of a job heating the food. I suspect that with time, the aggressiveness of the reaction fades a bit. I'd just boil a pot of water and drop the whole entree packets in to heat them up.
        • I still have a collection of really tiny Tabasco bottles. One with every meal, you know.

          An old Army Special Forces sergeant once explained to me that before an op, they would take a bunch of MREs apart and toss out all the extra things they didn't need, like duplicate silverware and such, and pack the rest up to take with them. But they always made sure to take some Tabasco, because with a little bit of that, "you could eat the crotch out of a dead camel."

        • Those MRE's are as well sealed as the tires on my car.

          Unquestionably the MREs are sealed better than your car tires.

          The little packets of gum were hard as rocks, and were rumored to contain a mild laxative

          Wouldn't be surprising. I have some cousins who served in the army and they informed me that MREs will constipate you rather badly if you have to eat them continuously for a while. I'm guessing that is on purpose since you really don't want an army getting a bad case of the runs.

          I've had MREs from time to time. Not exactly fine dining but I've eaten things from actual restaurants that were nastier than some of the contents. A few of the items

    • How do they stop it spoiling ? Bacteria need 3 things to grow: moisture, time and nutrients (something to digest to provide energy). The article says that they keep it moist and try hard to remove oxygen, but things like Anaerobic bacteria [wikipedia.org] don't need oxygen. They make it slighly acidic which might help, but too acidic and it will damage soldiers' teeth. The other way of stopping things growing in it is to remove nutritional content -- which is presumably the reason that soliders need to eat it. Hmmmm.

      Well, maybe you could irradiate it and kill all the bacteria. Just speculating.

    • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday February 17, 2014 @05:03AM (#46265337) Homepage Journal

      Bacteria need 3 things to grow: moisture, time and nutrients

      4th thing: not being already dead.

  • ... while still remaining as edible as it was to start with.

  • they could amke a decent crust that I could put my own sauce cheese and stuffings on, and that I could cut into small pieces.
    Bobboli's just doesn't cut it and pillsbury is too greasy.

    PS: The army should learn about microwaves. Then they would get warm pizza,

    • When a microwave is available, they're not eating MREs. They're eating B-Rats or, more likely A-Rats.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Microwaves for combat rations?
      What are they going to plug them into? A current bush?

    • by DanielRavenNest (107550) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:45PM (#46262651)

      Just hold it in front of the anti-aircraft radar for 30 seconds.

      There's a reason the first microwave ovens were called "Radaranges" (http://www.radar58.com/radarange/radar.html), and were made by the Amana division of Raytheon, a military radar manufacturer.

    • by Anrego (830717) *

      Try going to a bakery (even those dinky ones they have inside some grocery stores). Lot of them now carry pre-made crusts that are approximately a billion times better than the usual frozen/stale fare you find on the shelves.

    • You mean, like bread and cheese? :)

  • Back when I was in college.
  • by rts008 (812749) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:37PM (#46262583) Journal

    I can't remember how long ago it was (a decade or more, IIRC) they were irradiating uncooked food for long term shelf(room temp) storage.
    I think they irradiated some raw chicken carcasses to test, and were going to test and taste them after 10 years.
    I have not heard a single thing about this since.

    Wonder what came out of the 10 year fowl experiment?

    Now, they are trying 5 year pizza. Hmmm.

    Past experience in the military has taught me that when they start experimenting with field rations, nightmares frequently result.

    In my day, fights over the few edible entrees packed in the C-rations resulted in more severe(and numerous) casualties than accidents, Acts of God/Nature, poor planning, and Demon Murphy taking over, than all of 'enemy action' casualties combined during the 'Reign of the C-Rats'.

    If you were the unfortunate troop to find 'beef stew' in you ration pack WITHOUT a p-38 to defend your life, it turned gruesome quickly!(p-38's were only included in one out of five ration packs, and were highly coveted items.)

    • p>If you were the unfortunate troop to find 'beef stew' in you ration pack WITHOUT a p-38 to defend your life, it turned gruesome quickly!(p-38's were only included in one out of five ration packs, and were highly coveted items.)

      Not surprising. It has to be really hard to fit one of those things [wikipedia.org] into a ration pack.

      • P-38 is a can opener, but yeah parent poster really should define their terms.

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Not really, but it can only be done reliably when The Doctor is around to lend the use of a dimensional stabilizer.

      • On the other hand, this [wikipedia.org] might well fit in a ration pack, and really would be handy for defending your beef stew...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Past experience in the military has taught me that when they start experimenting with field rations, nightmares frequently result. In my day, fights over the few edible entrees packed in the C-rations resulted in more severe(and numerous) casualties than accidents, Acts of God/Nature, poor planning, and Demon Murphy taking over, than all of 'enemy action' casualties combined during the 'Reign of the C-Rats'. If you were the unfortunate troop to find 'beef stew' in you ration pack WITHOUT a p-38 to defend your life, it turned gruesome quickly!(p-38's were only included in one out of five ration packs, and were highly coveted items.)

      20 years ago, when i was serving in the Greek marines (as a conscript - a requirement for all capable male Greeks), in an joint exercice taking place in Italy i had the opportunity to experience the field rations of several NATO allies. The -unfortunate- USA marines and British royal marines were eager to trade their rations with us Greeks (in the begining we were curious about their "edible thing" -i am not calling it food... sorry!- so we always agreed happily, later we just took pity on them and gave the

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:38PM (#46262599) Journal
    Wasn't there someone who left a big mac on the kitchen table and planned to take a photo a day as some kind of art project? And the damn thing did not go bad for months? Or was it a hoax or urban legend?

    How bad that pizza must be if even microbes don't like its taste!

    • It's been done multiple times, fourteen years in one case [time.com]. They certainly go bad, they just don't change in appearance much.
    • by Waccoon (1186667)

      A movie was made about this [rottentomatoes.com]. The BigMac and various other menu selections definitely do go bad just like any other kind of food. Except for the french fries. They seem to have unnerving regenerative superpowers.

      As for the movie itself, I can't say I agree with the author's conclusions at the end, but on the whole it was interesting to watch.

    • Not an urban legend: it appears it dried out.

      While it's funny to mock this as a "ha ha a big mac is so bad even bacteria won't eat it", that's unfair because you can do the same with other food. While living in NM, I must have dropped an orange down the side of the fridge. I found it after a year and it was completely dry, rock hard and perfectly preserved.

      Actually many people seemed to have the odd piece of dried fruit that they'd found and then kept for posterity. Apples shrivelled reall badly, but citrus

  • for Valentine's Day three years from now.

  • by Required Snark (1702878) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @06:41PM (#46262623)
    You know, like dog chow or cat chow.
  • Sounds pretty gross but...can't be worse than Pizza Hut.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    And decades ago, Asimov ranted about processed "cheese" that never went bad. His take: if even bacteria won't eat it, is it really food?

    • by jddeluxe (965655)
      No, it's Kraft "Processed Cheese Food"...
    • Not to mention margarine, which was invented because all those lovely tropical oils kept going rancid before the colonial powers shipped them home. So they converted them into a non-food state so that nothing on Earth would eat it. Except humans. (And we call ourselves an intelligent species!)
  • After a nuclear war they'll find footprints leading to the only thing that hasn't dissolved. Just like the Clovis people controversy, there'll be an argument whether the makers originated in Europe like the Salutreans. It'll be a wonder in a museum.

  • Pizza Hut (Score:4, Funny)

    by Goody (23843) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @07:35PM (#46262931) Journal

    I was going to say they just re-invented Pizza Hut pizza, but then I saw the part about it being edible. At least they don't have to worry about Pizza Hut suing for patent infringement.

  • by Trogre (513942) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @07:41PM (#46262955) Homepage

    This is a good step in the right direction. They now have about 18 months to come up with a fully rehydratable, dehydrated pizza.

    That is, of course, once they've sorted out proper hoverboards and Mr Fusion.

  • by dlingman (1757250) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @08:41PM (#46263245)

    So the army bought all the remaining stocks of Twinkies and converted them into pizza?

  • Perhaps it'll taste like grocery-store, refrigerated-truck, warehouse-shelf toppings, but it won't taste anything like my pizza. My pizza, with farm-fresh toppings that have never seen a truck, nor a refrigerator, nor even a shelf, goes bad in about twelve hours -- with visible mould in 24 hours.

    Many people have said "it's so bad, even the dog won't eat it". Well I've always said: "if mould doesn't want to eat it, neither do I."

    So if your pizza keeps for three years, it lacks any form of nutrition. It's

    • by Guspaz (556486)

      RTFA: this is for military rations. Have you ever made your "farm-fresh" pizza while hiding behind a rock on the other side of the world while people shoot at you? Didn't think so.

      • still have zero interest in eating that one. makes no difference where I am.

        • by Guspaz (556486)

          Your alternatives would be either the existing MRE varieties, or starving to death. If you'd rather starve to death than eat shelf-stable pizza, you've got issues.

          • you must be kidding. those are the only two alternatives that you can figure? think harder please.

            • by Guspaz (556486)

              Umm, a soldier in the field is issued MREs. Short of eating the dirt and rocks around them, I don't think "thinking harder" will magically produce food.

              • If you were to think harder, you could consider many more options than 3-year old pizza. Or, you can continue to be a disappointed disappointment.

                You might choose to read more, instead of thinking harder. Sometimes other people have already thought harder, and write it down in order to save you the trouble of thinking at all. That way, you can just spit back what someone else thinks, and never need to contribute anything of your own. Historically, we call that "syndication", "publication", "distribution

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              you must be kidding. those are the only two alternatives that you can figure? think harder please.

              You can desert, and get shot in the head.

              You can fail to eat, and collapse in combat and probably die.

              Remember, in this scenario, you're not being given a choice of occupation. Obviously. Who the living fuck would otherwise eat MREs

  • Twinkies supposedly last for just about ever too, but that doesn't mean you want to be eating them...
  • Nobody's commenting on someone being called Jill Bates? Really?
  • PJs may have leaked their secret ingredients.....
  • Your government won't tell you that, but it's true, Glenn Beck told me.

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