Did Astronauts Really Eat Astronaut Ice Cream?
Of the many specialty items made for space travel, food was obviously a top priority. NASA commissioned several different companies to come up with freeze-dried snacks that the men could nosh on while in orbit, and the Whirlpool Corporation’s contribution was Neapolitan ice cream in a pouch. Coconut fat, sugar, milk solids, and other ingredients were freeze-dried, ground, and compressed into tasty cubes that were then coated with a layer of gelatin.
“Astronaut ice cream" only went on one space mission: the Apollo 7 crew took some with them during their 11-day orbit in 1968.
Alas, the stuff tended to be too crumbly to be practical (even the tiniest errant food flake can wreak havoc with equipment in a zero-gravity environment). The astronauts later reported that they didn’t like the taste very much, either. By 1972 technology had improved to the point that astronauts aboard Skylab were able to enjoy real ice cream, and today the main consumers of astronaut ice cream are backpackers, hikers, and survivalists.
This article originally appeared in 2012.