Surprising Everyday Conveniences Developed By or For the Military

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By Debbie Gregory.

We can thank (or blame) the U.S. Military for a lot of the convenience foods many of us eat or buy each week at the grocery store.

If you’re a fan of Dippin Dots, the technology that’s used to make the freeze-dried dessert was first used widely during World War II as a way of preserving medical supplies that otherwise required refrigeration.

Pringles came out of the project that was done by the Quartermaster Corps and the USDA to develop dehydrated potato flakes, which were then used to create these reshaped, formed chips,”

M&Ms addressed the age old problem of chocolate that melted. Forrest Mars Sr. partnered with Bruce Murrie under the Hershey company, and together they developed a process for  bite-sized, rainbow chocolate pieces that wouldn’t melt. They began exclusively selling the “M&Ms” to the U.S. military in 1941, when sugar was made unavailable to civilians.

In order to preserve fruits and vegetables for troop consumption, the military began using high-pressure processing (HPP) to ensure the longevity of fresh foods. Ready-to-eat fruits and veggies were available as a result of HPP.

Chef Boyardee, the Americanized version of the Boiardi family’s Italian food became a multi-million dollar corporation, thanks to the military purchasing their canned food as military rations.

And of course, there’s instant coffee. Although around since the Civil War, the age of instant coffee really came into its own during WWI.

But there are other everyday items that we must thank for the military for.

Jeeps have come a long way since they were first manufactured for American troops to use on reconnaissance missions in WWII.

In 1942, duct tape was invented for the military as a way to seal ammunition cases so that water couldn’t get in. Soldiers during WWII quickly realized that it worked well for fixing army gear, too.

The first electronic computer that was capable of being programmed to serve many different purposes, ENIAC, was designed for the U.S. military during WWII.

And last, but not least, in 1945, an American scientist realized, by accident, that the radar transmitters used by the U.S. Army throughout WWII actually released enough heat—in the form of “microwaves”—that they could cook food. Need we say more?

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