A unique product from a unique time, Space Food Sticks are a living monument to golden years of the Space Age. In the formative years of space travel, food represented a major hurdle for NASA technicians. Keeping it fresh, tasty and safe was tricky business.
The first brave souls who flew in space (better known as "the guinea pigs") were given an unappetizing choice—cubes covered with edible gelatin or semi-liquid food puree squeezed out of a toothpaste-like tube. The result was summed up by one newspaper headline: "Space Food Hideous—But It Costs A Lot."
Hideous or not, the public was eating it up, or in the case of Tang, drinking it in abundance. When junior space travelers discovered Tang was being used by the space program, sales of the instant breakfast drink skyrocketed.
The Pillsbury Company, which had been lending its support to NASA, saw an opportunity to catch a little "moon fever" for their company. Their efforts lead to the creation of Space Food Sticks.
Lead by Dr. Howard Bauman, the food scientists at Pillsbury whipped up an energy stick that was actually edible. Created as a contingency food, the long chewy stick could slide into an airtight port located in an astronaut's helmet to provide essential nutrition in case of an emergency.
This uniquely-textured energy snack secured a coveted spot on the historic Apollo moon flights. Before Neil Armstrong's "leap" in 1969 Pillsbury released a commercial spin-off of their cosmic creation, imaginatively dubbing the product Space Food Sticks.
Described as a "non-frozen balanced energy snack in rod form containing nutritionally balanced amounts of carbohydrate, fat and protein," the Tootsie Roll-like candy came in several flavors featuring caramel, chocolate, malt, mint, orange and the ever-popular peanut butter. Aficionados will recall that the Space Food Sticks were wrapped in special foil to give them an added space-age appearance.
In 2002, Terra Firma Products brought Space Food Sticks back to the USA after a twenty year absence. Satisfying the cravings of longtime fans as well as creating an entirely new generation of "stick aficionados," the chewy sticks are alive and well in the 21st Century.
Space Food Sticks Memories
It was my first Boy Scout campout. The snow was unusually deep, it was bitter cold. I endured a day of searching for a "left handed smoke shifter", a night of "snipe hunting" and then the ultimate suffering, a freezing cold, (literally, where it was not frozen it was merely soaked), all cotton Sears, Roebuck and Company slumber bag.
But, I had two or three boxes of Space Food Sticks, I thought, no, I knew, I was cool, and a grizzled survivor with my modern day pemmican/jerky replacement. Let them eat Smores-I got SPACE FOOD! I distinctly remember my Dad dragging me on deer hunting trips where I trudged around exhausted and cold thinking, correctly so, no deer is going to be dumb enough to let us sneak up on them in these goofy blaze orange and red plaid outfits. We never did get anything. It was cool though, and I had Space Food Sticks. ~ David from Maryland