Space Food Sticks the grandaddy of all energy bars

There are several classification for food that is sent into space:

Beverages (B) - Various rehydratable drinks.

Fresh Foods (FF)- Foods that spoil quickly that needs to be eaten within the first two days of flight to prevent spoilage.

Irradiated (I) Meat - Beef steak that is specially packaged and sterilized with ionizing radiation.

Intermediate Moisture (IM) - Foods that have some moisture but not enough to cause immediate spoilage.

Natural Form (NF) - Mostly unprocessed foods such as nuts, cookies and granola bars that are ready to eat.

Rehydratable (R) Foods - Foods that have been dehydrated and allowed to rehydrate in hot water prior to consumption.

Thermostabilized (T) - Foods that have been processed with heat to destroy microorganisms and enzymes that may cause spoilage.

More common staples and condiments do not have a classification and are known simply by the item name:
Shelf Stable Tortillas - Tortillas that have been heat treated, specially package in an oxygen free nitrogen atmosphere to prevent the growth of mold.

Condiments - Liquid salt solution, oily pepper paste, mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard.

The Pillsbury Space Food Stick is none of these.

Space Food Sticks came into existence as Pillsbury noticed the popularity of the drink Tang. Tang was the orange flavored powdered drink made by rival food maker General Mills. Pillsbury jumped at the chance to make a food product that would travel into space. NASA has previously approached Pillsbury to aid in the creation of an acceptable food energy bar but they declined only to come begging for the job after the apparent commercial success of Tang.
Pillsbury came up with a remarkable name:
Space Food Stick.
It was a chewy, slightly granular nougat shaped into a cylindrical "stick" about 4 1/2 inches long.
Aficionados will recall that the Space Food Sticks came wrapped in special foil to give them a space age look. The front of each pack featured an illustration of an anonymous astronaut happily chomping on a Space Food Stick. The box clarified the important role the development sticks played "in support of the U.S. Aerospace Program."

Space Food Sticks
Originally uploaded by Kiel Bryant

It turns out Pillsbury's "aggressive marketing" ruffled a few a feathers in the nation's capital. One year after Space Food Sticks were introduced, the Bureau of Deceptive Practices undertook an investigation of Pillsbury's claim they were "ounce for ounce" as nutritious as milk. A document issued by the company in response--available at NASA's archives-asserted the snacks were "suitable as total food replacement" in the unlikely chance that no other foods were available.
So is dog and in extreme cases human so I can see how Pillsbury found this claim acceptable.
What was not acceptable was the fact these Space Food Sticks never actually went into space. The early commercials even showed an astronaut eating a space food stick through a special portal made in his space helmet. Pillsbury had to fess up and finally claim the snacks never left orbit but they were designed with space in mind.

When it was discovered that Pillsbury's consumer version of Space Food Sticks never actually went into space Pillsbury was forced to change the name. This name change occurred at the same time the space race popularity was dwindling and the energy crisis of 1973 took the headlines.

And that was the end of that.

The word energy bar hadn’t been invented yet. Inevitably the fabled Sticks disappeared from supermarket shelves.

It turns out that people really wanted to believe they were eating something that had gone into space or was the thought of eating something called simply FOOD STICK mildly repulsive? Pillsbury took the space out of the stick and ruined childhood dreams of being an astronaut for kids everywhere.

They Always Come Back:
Buy Space Food Sticks Here.


Marko said...

That is really interesting.

david said...

I loved those Space Food Sticks when I was a kid!
Found something with the same name online a few years ago.

Ordered them, didn't taste anything like what I remembered.

Don't know if my taste buds weren't remembering accurately, or if the "new" version was just a blatant rip-off.

Anonymous said...

NO! I want my (parent's) money back! I ate that foil-wrapped nastiness thinking astronauts had too. No way I would have choked down so many of them without the "space" angle. Washed that crap down with Tang, too.


phentermine 37.5 said...

I discovered the Deep Fat Fried Twinkie phenomenon yesterday at our town fair. It was too disgustingly outrageous to pass up. That, and a batter-dipped deep fat fried Milky Way bar sprinkled with powdered sugar. I can't believe that people eat this and then get spun around on the Tilt-a-Whirl (which should be called the Tilt-a-Hurl).

Free coupons and samples said...

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Anonymous said...

Finally! I have been trying to remember what those things were. I remember eating stick-shaped things, but I knew they were not beef jerkey. I was little, and had no recollection of the name, just the vague sensation of something chewy & chocolate or peanut butter flavored. Thank you for finally clearing that half-memory from my overstuffed brain of nostalgia.

Anonymous said...

Try the Atkins Chocolate-Chip-Cookie-Dough-Bar...Reminds me of the old style Space Food Sticks

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