Astronaut Food

Astronaut Food

Throughout most of the 20th century, it was no secret that space travel captured the imaginations of just about every tyke in existence. As the 60s arrived and astronauts started venturing out into this vast unknown, one particular area of interest was the food that the space travelers took with them. Realizing some serious marketing potential here, numerous manufacturers decided to give young consumers a taste of what these brave explorers were munching in their zero gravity environment.

The first product that caught the public eye was an orange flavored powder called Tang. Surprisingly perhaps, it wasn’t invented for use in space travel, but simply as a breakfast drink. Sales weren’t too spiffy, however, until the product happened to be included on the Gemini flights. And as soon as kids learned that the astronauts were drinking this stuff in space, sales (pardon the pun) skyrocketed.

In the late 60s, with space exploration becoming commonplace, Pillsbury decided to jump on the astronaut food bandwagon and introduce Space Food Sticks, which consisted of little slabs of protein, carbs and fat, in such pleasing flavors as caramel, chocolate and peanut butter. Presented as a nutritionally-balanced snack, they became quite popular with the younger generations.

Over the years, other products were introduced, consisting of freeze-dried dehydrated entrees. While certainly intriguing, most kids quickly learned that just because astronauts ate it, didn’t mean that it necessarily tasted good. One exception was freeze-dried ice cream. With a Styrofoam like consistency that instantly melted in your mouth, and available in chocolate, vanilla or strawberry, these sweet treats became popular, as much for their novelty as their flavor.

Much of what was considered astronaut food is now available in the camping supplies section of the local sporting goods store, due to the fact that it is lightweight, only requires water to prepare, and is virtually non-spoilable. Of course, “camping food” doesn’t sound anywhere near as intriguing as “space food,” and with interest in the space program nowhere near what it was during the heyday of the 60s, the days of kids begging for a meal of freeze dried powdered food is probably behind us for the foreseeable future.

Did you ever beg your parents to buy you food “just like the astronauts ate”? Did each glass of Tang make you feel like Neil Armstrong? Share your memories of this futuristic food with us in our comments section as we celebrate these moisture-free meals at Retroland.

6 Responses to “Astronaut Food”

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  1. Sparkina says:

    Space food sticks were delectable! Of course, in the mid-70s they were simply called Food Sticks. Call ’em what u wish, those things were crazy tasty. A standby dessert in my lunchbox in second grade (I only ever had the chocolate)

  2. Sue says:

    I loved Space Food Sticks! My mom would buy a box and they would be gone in one day! Chocolate & Caramel were my favorites. Don’t recall liking the orange ones.

  3. Jennifer harris says:

    I never had Astronaut food.

  4. Boone Helm says:

    Mmmmmm, my brother and I used to gorge on these too after we had eaten our Kaboom cereal in the morning for breakfast. For a brunch snack we would eat Space Food Sticks and watch Scooby Doo or Josey and the Pussy Cats.

  5. Ted Haley says:

    I had an Aunt and Uncle that would take my sister and me to Elitche’s Amusement Park once every summer. It was the early 70’s and we were probably 6 years old. We would get on the giant Ferris Wheel and open the chocolate space food sticks up when we were stopped at the very top…just like the astronauts.

  6. Sparkina says:

    I also like freeze-dried fruit and veggies (light and crispy), and the freeze-dried fruit-and-yogurt kisses sold as a toddler snack (though I am way past toddlerhood) and both my mother and I think the freeze-dried “space” ice cream is divine!

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