Editor’s note: This article was first published on Sept. 11, 2023.

There is an old wives’ tale that suggests cockroaches would be the only creatures to survive nuclear winter. That will not be the case, however, if the U.S. Army has anything to say about indestructible innovation.

For nearly two decades now, the service has crafted the shelf stable sandwich in flavors such as barbecue chicken, barbecue beef, nacho cheese, bacon cheddar, and Italian pocket. And while that last one sounds like something sewn into a silk robe worn by Robert De Niro, it’s actually more like a pepperoni and sausage hot pocket — and is hopefully a little less crunchy than those pesky insects.

The demand for these seemingly indestructible heroes for heroes, which are currently included in the First Strike Ration, arose out of a need for more on-the-go eats. And though a number of Meals-Ready-to-Eat menu items could be used to construct a sandwich, that would take time ... and some serious ratf***ing.

Instead, the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center in Massachusetts invested in a dehydration process involving humectants, which eliminate the potential for the dreaded scourge of soggy bread. After the sandwiches are made, they’re then stored in foil tri-laminated pouches that absorb oxygen and prevent the food from breeding bacteria.

For those curious non-military folks and doomsday preppers, the good news is that these tasty morsels are available at places like Walmart and Bass Pro Shops, according to the Army.

Whatever your background, these make the perfect snack for nuclear winter — as long as you aren’t planning to live more than three years after the apocalypse. The shelf stable sandwich — unfortunately — does have a shelf life.

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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