Combat-Ready Pizza

U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY DAVID KAMM (RDECOM)

IN THE FIELD: MRE pizza needs to be easy—and tasty—to eat on the go.

American soldiers have long requested an additional food option while serving in combat zones: pizza. Thanks to some simple chemistry, the U.S. military is now delivering.

People in the armed forces often rely on MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat). The prepackaged dishes require no cooking and have to be able to stay fresh for 36 months without refrigeration. Initial attempts to create a long-lasting MRE pizza were foiled by oxygen (O) inside the bread. It reacted with chemicals in the cheese, causing the gooey topping to spoil.

After years of research, food scientists at an Army laboratory in Massachusetts discovered a simple solution. They placed a small packet of iron (Fe) in the pizza’s pouch. The iron attracts oxygen atoms, so the cheese stays fresh. Bon appétit!

KAYANA SZYMCZAK/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX

IN THE LAB: Food scientists craft a pizza that can last for three years in these MRE pouches

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