VTV takes a brief look at some of the ways the military has shaped the way we eat.
The U.S. Military has been spearheading food science research for over a century. These initiatives have led to the processed cheese we find in Cheetos and Goldfish Crackers.
Most of us can conjure an image of a chocolate bar or canned meat when we think of how the military has impacted our groceries at home. But the process of military food-preservation goes much further. It has been estimated by some that approximately 50% of what is on our supermarket shelves comes from Combat Rations technologies developed by the military.
In an effort for overall ‘preparedness’, military food science has involved major food manufacturers from the beginning. These innovations led by U.S. Military R&D have helped develop some of our favorite foods and the way they are packaged.
Just some of the foods credited to Army inventions include Cheetos, Energy bars, TV Dinners, Refrigerated Guacamole, room-temperature soft tortillas, supermarket bread and the McRib.
Canning was invented in the 19th century to maintain food freshness longer and maintain the flavor of Combat Rations aka K-rations. That technology was elevated around 1978 by the invention of the retort pack.
Today Many single-serving juices and ready-to-eat products such as deli meats which state no preservatives utilize High-Pressure Processing which kills bacteria in food. The process of ‘HPP’ ensures food safety while extending shelf life without the use of preservations or heat. HPP was developed by the Army in the 1990s to help maintain the taste of food and combat foodborne illnesses.
These preservation systems have made Shelf-stable food a staple on our grocer’s shelves. Take a look at modern juice pouches and milk cartons.
Tetra Pak, a major food packaging corporation, recently introduced their Tetra Recart pak an alternative to the can. The package uses a retort process invented by the U.S. Army Natick R&D Command in a joint development with Reynolds Metals Company.
The process in which ready-to-eat bags of salad are prepared was invented by the Navy in the 1960s during a project with Whirlpool.
Pringles came out of a project done by the Quartermaster Corp and the USDA to develop dehydrated potato flakes.
Military chocolate has been a part of standard United States military ration since the original Ration D or D ration bar of 1937.
Some packaging inspired by K-rations have a lower environmental impact which is a positive. Of course, it helps our busy lifestyles to be able to grab and go on the run. Some people have concerns about the safety of additives and GMO’s in the growing process of our food in an attempt at better preservation. It is encouraging that many of the modern methods to preserve food exclude preservatives using heat and pressure instead and even recycled materials.
Can you name other foods made possible by military ingenuity?