Military Researchers Nearing The “Holy Grail” Of Ready-To-Eat Meals: Pizza

The next time you’re staring down a cheesy, hot, delicious piece of pizza right, remind yourself to be thankful how easy you’ve got it. Not everyone has access to pizza wherever they are, including the U.S. military. But thanks to a stalwart team of researchers bent on bringing pizza to soldiers, that could change in the near future.

Scientists have been listening to the masses, who are clamoring for pizza as one of their options for meals ready to eat, or MREs, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. These lightweight, individual field rations have been around since 1981 and are eaten by soldiers in combat zones or other places where a kitchen is impossible.

Pizza is known as the Holy Grail of MREs, and now researchers in a Massachusetts military lab say they’re closing on just the right formulation. No refrigeration or freezing required.

“You can basically take the pizza, leave it on the counter, packaged, for three years and it’d still be edible,” said a food scientist at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

Pizza is high on the list of requested items when soldiers are asked every year what they’d like to eat, she adds. She’s spent almost two years developing the recipe to oblige those requests.

It’s a tall order — moisture in tomato sauce, cheese and toppings end up sinking into the dough over time, making it gross and soggy and prime for bacteria.

Recent research has helped scientists figure out how to keep that from happening, partly by using ingredients called humectants — like sugar, salt and syrups — that bind to water and keep it out of the dough..

The real question is, how does it taste? The head of the taste lab says so far the latest prototype batch of pepperoni isn’t half bad.

“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,” she said. “The only thing missing from that experience would be it’s not hot when you eat it. It’s room temperature.”

Still, even room temperature pizza is better than no pizza at all, am I right, or am I right? I’m right.

You can follow MBQ on Twitter where she will most definitely talk about pizza: @marybethquirk

Military food researchers say they’re near the holy grail: MRE pizza that lasts 3 years [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]