5 'Foods' That Will Survive the Apocalypse

By: Alison Cooper  | 

Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle. Cool and fruity -- well, you get the idea. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

There are always plenty of folks stocking up for the end of the world. Let's be honest, though: As much as they'd like to believe that their canned goods will still be around after a nuclear attack, all that will really be left is ... well, nothing.

That said, we're pretty sure that a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies isn't going to help anyone in a major disaster — the key to any good apocalypse plan is a stash of foods that are loaded down with additives and preservatives. These five products probably won't survive an atomic blast, true, but you'll be much better off with them than with say a crate of broccoli (no offense there, broccoli).

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5: Twinkies

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Can you believe the Twinkie is now 92 years old? True, but don't expect them to last that long on your survival bunker shelf. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Have you heard the one about how stores are still selling the original stock of Twinkies, made in 1930? Or how they're injected with embalming fluid? When the subject of "long shelf life" comes up, someone's sure to pipe up about how Twinkies and cockroaches would be the sole survivors of a nuclear attack. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on who you ask), it's all urban legend. It's true that Twinkies are pretty much jam-packed with totally unnatural ingredients (Polysorbate 60, anyone?), but only a couple of them are actual preservatives. Twinkies left grocery store shelves in 2012, but junkies breathed a sigh of relief when the company was purchased out of bankruptcy in 2013. So, the myth that Twinkies will last forever continues to endure. The reality is that, although there is one known specimen that has survived for 46 years, an opened Twinkie will last about 25 days. Not bad, but you'd probably want to stock up on something more hardy if you're preparing for the end of days.

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4: Processed Cheese

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Processed imitation cheese — it's oily, almost inedible, sometimes melt-able, and chock full of artificial flavor. Yum. David_Jones/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The addition of the word "product" or "food" to any food name is a sure sign that you're going to be ingesting more than your fair share of chemical ingredients. Case in point: cheese product. Yeah, there's not too much actual cheese in those cellophane-wrapped slices. "Pasteurized process cheese food" has to contain at least 51 percent cheese, but the rest can be a hodge-podge of additives — and from there it's a downhill slide through "pasteurized process cheese product" to straight-up "imitation cheese," which is made from vegetable oil. The sad thing is that, while imitation cheese might last for months on end, you'll never find a loaf of bread to make a decent post-apocalyptic grilled cheese.

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3: Spam

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Spam — you may survive the apocalypse, but how long will you survive the sodium in Spam? Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

Spam is another food that's been the subject of many an urban legend — there's just something about a gelatinous brick of pink meat that makes people recoil in horror. The Spam ingredient list actually isn't all that long or scary — pork shoulder, ham, salt, sugar, sodium nitrite and water — but that salt really packs a punch. You'll get 33 percent of your daily sodium allowance in one helping, though there is a version with 25 percent less sodium than the original full-punch Spam. There's just a small amount of sodium nitrite (a common preservative that kills bacteria and keeps the meat pink), but it's on the top of most experts' lists of food ingredients to stay far, far away from. So it's probably best if Spam actually does sit on your shelf for a very long time.

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2: Jell-O

Let's get it out of the way now — no, Jell-O isn't made from horses' hooves. It's made from the hides and bones of cows and pigs. And that's oh so much better, right? Actually, lots of other pretty tasty foods contain gelatin (like cream cheese and marshmallows), but it is the main ingredient in Jell-O. So, along with some water, sugar and artificial colors and flavors, you're basically eating highly processed animal parts. Yum? But keep it in the bunker because, after all, even if the whole world is obliterated, what's a day without Jell-O?

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1: Nondairy Creamer

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Nondairy creamer will last almost until the end of time on the shelf of your survival bunker. Wikimedia Commons (CC By SA 4.0)

We guess we can understand using nondairy creamer if you're lactose-intolerant and you need a little sweetness in your morning coffee. Or if you're in a pinch and that's all they have in the office kitchen or the auto-body shop while you're waiting for an oil change. But why not just use a splash of regular old milk? It's not going to kill you, and it doesn't contain a known pesticide (dipotassium phosphate) or something that makes it highly flammable (sodium alumionosilicate). Yep, nondairy creamer will explode upon contact with a spark. You heard us right — so don't store it near the matches in your blast-proof bunker.

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Originally Published: Jul 26, 2010

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More Great Links

  • Di Justo, Patrick. "What's Inside: Powdered Non-Dairy Creamer." Wired.com. (April 21, 2022) http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.01/start.html?pg=5
  • Healthline. "Is Spam Healthy or Bad for You?" (April 21, 2022). https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-spam-healthy
  • Hostess. "Twinkies." (April 21, 2022) https://www.hostesscakes.com/products/twinkies/classic/
  • Meter. "The Food Manufacturer's Complete Guide to Shelf Life." (April 21, 2022) https://www.metergroup.com/en/meter-food/education-guides/food-manufacturers-complete-guide-shelf-life?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzon2pNyl9wIVFLrICh2ipwN8EAAYASAAEgLjKPD_BwE
  • Neilson, Susie. "The myth of the immortal Twinkie is dead, thanks to a new analysis of moldy snack cakes." Busines Insider. (April 21, 2022) https://www.businessinsider.com/twinkies-not-immortal-according-to-scientific-analysis-2020-10
  • Ritter, Steve. "What's That Stuff?" Chemical and Engineering News, Feb. 7, 2000 (April 21, 2022) http://pubs.acs.org/cen/whatstuff/stuff/7806sci2.html
  • Snopes.com. "JELL-O and Horses' Hooves." (April 21, 2022) http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/jello.asp
  • USDA. "How long can you keep canned goods?" Jul 17, 2019 (April 21, 2022) (https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/How-long-can-you-keep-canned-goods

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