The Military Sandwich That'll Last For Years

Courtesy of DoD Combat Feeding

There’s a lot to be said for the food innovation scene coming out of the universities and restaurants around here, but when it comes to hard-core practical developments that defy the normal course of nature, there’s still nothing like the Army. Need an example? Look no further than the still-fresh-after-two-years sandwich that’s been making the headlines lately, which comes straight out of our very own Natick-based U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Center. It’s an anti-decay sandwich littered with humectants like sugar and salt (finally, a good reason to eat them) that lock away moisture, with packets of iron filings included in the vacuum-sealed packaging to suck up rot-inducing oxygen. Varieties include PB&J, Italian hoagie, and BBQ chicken. It’s light, portable, and perfect for a soldier on the field.

Now I know what you’re saying: Two years? That’s nothing. I’ve had a Twinkie in my cupboard for longer than that. But are you really going to feed that Twinkie to a solider in the field? I’d really, really hope not. But that soldier still needs to eat, and he needs something that’ll stay fresh, be easily transportable, and — ideally — taste better and carry easier than the vacuum-packed-stay-fresh-for-three-years mush that he’s been enjoying so far.

The sandwich is part a family of high-performance dinnertime options in the military’s First Strike Rations menu, which also includes Cinnamon Zapplesauce (yes, Zapple with a Z), caffeinated gum, Tabasco sauce, and mocha dessert bars. Maybe not the single most appealing range of food you’ve ever heard, but let’s be honest: it’s not that far off from what we all ate in college anyway. And it probably goes very well with a salad made from the month-old vegetables the center has also been working on how to keep fresh for exceptionally long stretches of time. It’s just a shame that Army rations no longer seem to include the obligatory spruce beer that used to come with the gig.

Check out the video that says it all, only this time, with an English accent.