If you’ve ever been to the gift shop in a science museum, about three or four bucks can get you a package of astronaut ice cream. It’s basically Neapolitan-flavored freeze-dried ice cream in a pouch that keeps it fresh so astronauts can eat it in space. How often do you get the chance to eat space food? You think. It’s a technological marvel -- a modern delicacy! And it’s completely full of crap.
How do we swallow one of the biggest space food myths of all time? It’s been fake news since the 1960s and no one ever figured it out until now. It’s been widely touted that Apollo 7 took the crunchy cream up into space, but when Vox ice cream interviewed astronaut Walt Cunningham (the last surviving member of the Apollo 7 crew) he admitted that they "never had that stuff." There is no mention of it in mission transcripts, either. National Air and Space museum curator Jennifer Lavasseur told Vox it was probably developed for the mission, but never made it off the ground.
This frozen treat likely failed testing for two reasons. First, if you’ve ever tried it, you know it’s kind of gross. It’s a big, chalky hunk that melts in your mouth and kind of tastes like ice cream, but without the satisfying coolness of your favorite frozen treat. Second, it tends to break up into sticky chunks and tiny crumbs which is a huge no-no for space food because crumbs can jam equipment when they float through the air. For that reason, space food tends to be more pasty in consistency. So now we’re stuck with dry ice cream in the gift shops and we buy it thinking we’re cool like an astronaut, perpetuating the myth.
What did they eat on Apollo 7? Real vanilla ice cream is mentioned in the mission press kit, along with lots of different fruit purees and bacon squares (a huge hit with the crew), pudding, soups and of course, Tang (listed as breakfast drink). That myth is true.
We hereby free you from ever having to purchase another package of awful astronaut ice cream. Choose the more historically accurate bacon instead.