That’s right. A meat stick with the flavour of beef jerky, but the same kind of pick you up you’d get from a cup of coffee. In a world of energy drinks, mints, chewing gum and even caffeinated soap, why wouldn’t they start to energy infuse our food too?
Sadly, it doesn’t look like the incredibly cool artwork in the picture; it looks like a regular Slim Jim. And, the reason behind caffeinated meat makes a lot of sense. It was developed for soldiers at a research facility outside of Boston as part of their field ration program or as an MRE, Meal, Ready to Eat. It’s really hard to brew a pot of coffee in the field, so they were looking for a way to improve performance and alertness, while keeping soldiers well fed. A quote in The Star, says the aim is to “keep more war fighters on the battlefield for longer periods of time and reduce lost time from their mission and the injuries sustained in daily activities such as climbing mountains, searching through caves and carrying 75 to 100 pounds on their back.”
A vegetarian equivalent has been served up by the US military for the last two year called Zapplesauce. It uses maltodextrin, a complex carbohydrate, instead of caffeine, that offers energy mixed with applesauce. They’re also working on foods that can contain anti-inflammatories from supplements like omega 3s and curcumin. Same goes with a hyped up version of that energy goo that marathon runners use.
If you’re wondering why companies and governments are spending their money and the time of some of the world’s top scientists on this, remember trying astronaut food when you were little? Or any dehydrated camping rations? Fun to try once, but image eating that for every single meal. Blech.
So, these new food sciences have replaced the mystery meat and dehydrated ice cream with salsa verde, ratatouille and a strawberry-banana dairy shake. The big difference now between your dinner and theirs: theirs can withstand an airdrop from thousands of feet and has a shelf life of three years at 80 degrees.
And, while they won’t be serving caffeinated meat in the field for another two years, as a civilian you can always try Perky Jerky. You can let me know how it is. I’ll just take your word for it.