A Corned Beef Sandwich, Astronaut Ice Cream, and Pringles
In 1965 a corned beef sandwich made history when it was smuggled into space aboard NASA’s Gemini 3 by astronaut John Young. Young had done it in collaboration with astronaut and prankster, Wally Schirra, who had purchased the sandwich at Wolfie’s Restaurant and Sandwich Shop in Cocoa Beach, FL.
Young pulled the sandwich out once in orbit to share it with his commander and crewmate, Gus Grissom.
Once they took a bite of the sandwich, they realized they had made a terrible mistake. Unless food is properly prepared for space it can splinter into a thousand pieces when you eat it. Those bits of sandwich can get into equipment or even an astronaut’s eye and cause real problems.
That sandwich caused quite a controversy at the time and a replica of it can be found at the Grissom Memorial Museum in Mitchell, Indiana.
I guess I can’t blame them for wanting to change things up when it came to food in space. No one wants to eat Astronaut Ice Cream all the time.
Astronaut Ice Cream
Freeze-dried ice cream or “Astronaut Ice Cream” is a sugary freeze-dried brick you find in museum gift shops, commonly in the Neopolatin flavor mix of strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla.
They were often the highlight of a school trip for kids. It was gift shop money well-spent. After all, what could be more wholesome than eating the same food that our brave astronauts eat?
But it turns out, they are not eating it.
Freeze Dried food was developed for the Mercury program, but ice cream did not prove to be a popular choice. So despite astronauts asking for it and appearing on packaging, freeze-dried ice cream was not included on any Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle, or International Space Station missions.
What did they eat instead of freeze-dried ice cream? Well, real ice cream, of course.
While Astronaut Ice Cream doesn’t soar across the heavens, it does make a swell treat to those of us on Earth and we can thank one person for that, Fred Baur.
If this was Baur’s only contribution, that would be impressive, but he also left his mark somewhere else.
Fredric John Baur was an organic chemist and food storage scientist. He is credited with creating freeze-dried ice cream and perhaps more importantly the Pringle’s container.
Pringles are saddle-shaped potato crisps. They are designed to be exactly alike and therefore could be sold in a different style of packaging than standard potato chips.
It was Baur who came up with a tube-shaped container to hold the Pringles and he received a patent for both the package and the method of packaging them in 1970.
Baur was so proud of his creation that he requested that he be buried in one of his containers. His family, respecting his wishes, picked up a can of Regular Pringles on the way to the ceremony and transferred some of his ashes to the container for burial.