The U.S. military has developed a pizza that stays edible for years

In an effort to boost solider morale, researchers at a U.S. military lab in Massachusetts have developed a pizza that can stay on the shelf for up to three years and still remain good to eat.

U.S. soldiers have been pleading with their bosses to have pizza added to their "meals ready to eat" packages, also known as MREs. These kits replaced canned food back in 1981 and are utilized in combat zones or areas where field kitchens can't be set up.

The new long-lived pizza, considered a kind of "holy grail" among food technologists, was developed by the U.S. Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center after two years of research. It can literally be left on the counter for three years, and it would still be edible.

Incredibly, the pizza doesn't require any refrigeration or freezing. The Associated Press explains:

Scientists' efforts were long thwarted because moisture in tomato sauce, cheese and toppings migrated to the dough over time, resulting in soggy pizza that provided the perfect conditions for mold and disease-causing bacteria to grow.

But on-and-off research over the past few years helped them figure out ways to prevent moisture from migrating. That includes using ingredients called humectants — sugar, salt and syrups can do the trick — that bind to water and keep it from getting to the dough.

But that alone would not help the pizza remain fresh for three years at 80 degrees, so scientists tweaked the acidity of the sauce, cheese and dough to make it harder for oxygen and bacteria to thrive. They also added iron fillings to the package to absorb any air remaining in the pouch.

As for the taste and texture, it's a little moist and not very crispy. It's apparently reminiscent of typical pan pizza that you'd make at home and take out of the toaster oven — except that it's eaten at room temperature.

[ AP | AP Photo/Steven Senne]