Space food

FruittttY'know "Astronaut Ice Cream" that's a favorite at science museum gift shops everywhere? I shouldn't be surprised, but astronauts don't eat the stuff. Freeze-dried ice cream was on the Apollo 7 menu but apparently the astronauts hated it so much that it never made it on future missions. (The same outfit that makes the Astronaut Ice Cream also sell a Mission Pack Space Food Sampler filled with other foods that astronauts probably don't eat.) The new issue of Smithsonian magazine examines the space food collection at the National Air and Space Museum, the place where, like many of you I'm sure, I had my first taste of "astronaut ice cream."
From Smithsonian:

Like a kid’s lunchbox at the end of the school day, the collection Levasseur administers is in some ways a barometer of failed foods. That is, leftovers—freeze-dried packets returned to Earth, unopened and summarily rejected. (Three signature NASA examples are on offer here : beef-barbecue cubes, fruitcake and coffee with cream—unused from Neil Armstrong’s meal allotments, avoided during the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon he commanded in 1969.) “We have a lot of instant breakfasts,” (curator Jennifer Levasseur) says. “I get the feeling these were the kinds of guys who just woke up and drank coffee.” Foods transformed into totally unrecognizable forms also fared poorly—which may explain the failure of astronaut ice cream. “There was a ‘bacon bar’ that looks something like a granola bar,” adds Levasseur. “We have quite a lot of those.”

Conversely, there tend to be fewer of those items that did prove popular: hot dogs, spaghetti and meatballs, shrimp cocktail.

"Unpack a Meal of Astronaut Space Food"


  1. I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised that fruitcake ends up being shot out into space.

  2. Bacon bars of the future will be exactly as good as they sound, and there won’t be a single one left on arrival at Mars.

  3. In fairness the crew of Apollo 7 were all suffering from colds while up there for ten days. They were all pretty cranky, especially Wally Schirra, and pretty much hated everything. 

    1. I’m just in the middle of that episode of From the Earth to the Moon.  If it’s representative of the lead-up to that mission, I really respect Mr. Schirra for being such a complete hard-ass about safety.  He comes off as a complete crank, but he probably saved lives in subsequent missions.

      1. Absolutely. They were the first manned flight after the fire. Grissom was Wally’s neighbor, friend and colleague since Mercury. While he and Deke Slayton got into it a few times, especially over an unplanned TV broadcast, Schirra was extremely serious about business on that flight. It’s especially telling because his crankiness and arguing with Mission Control were somewhat against character in his previous missions.  It would later become clear during Skylab that Mission Control was not always cognizant of the demands of the job in flight as they should have been.

  4. ‘Astronaut’ ice cream is DELICIOUS. Although I’m guessing they pumped a lot more sugar into it to make it more palatable to the public at large. Gosh, I haven’t had it in years. Do want.

  5. I remember when I was a kid in the early ’70s Pillsbury had these doughy, foil-wrapped rods of edible plastic called Space Food Sticks that were marketed as some kind of synthetic snack. They did apparently have a connection to the US space program.

    I also remember taking commercially prepared compressed bacon bars on camping trips in the ’70s. They were OK.

    1. They apparently brought back space food sticks recently. Never tried them but they are part of the sampler linked in the post.

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