6 space-themed novelty items we totally forgot about


If you’re of the silent or baby-boomer generations, you might remember Space Food Sticks.

These caramel, chocolate, and peanut butter-flavored snacks had their origins in the space food cubes developed by the Pillsbury Company for a NASA mission in 1962. Space Food Sticks hit grocery store shelves in 1969, according to General Mills’ history of the product.

While they may not have the same branding anymore, in a sense, Space Food Sticks never went away. They live on in the form of now ubiquitous energy bars made by dozens of food manufacturers. The brand faded by the 1980s but was purchased and subsequently re-released in 2006 to science and space centers and novelty shops.

Flickr Creative Commons/Brian

Tang is probably the novelty product most associated with the space program, with many people thinking it was developed by or for NASA.

That’s actually a common misconception, according to the agency itself.

The powdery drink mix was, however, forever immortalized when John Glenn took the drink on the Friendship 7 orbital spacecraft in 1962, and has been associated with the space program ever since – even though Buzz Aldrin hated the stuff, according to NPR.

Given the product’s notoriety, it might be hard to argue we’ve forgotten about it. Although, when was the last time anyone you knew tossed back a cold, refreshing Tang?

Believe it or not, though, the drink lives on internationally, making $900 million annually for producer Mondelez International. It’s most popular in Brazil, Argentina, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico, according to the company.

Fashioned after the actual moon boots worn by Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon, the Moon Boot debuted in the early 1970s to capitalize off space-race fever.

Developed by outdoors company Tecnica as aprés-ski footwear, Moon Boots came into vogue at the height of the Cold War, and have occasionally popped up again over the decades whenever a retrofuturist fashion trend resurfaces, according to The New York Times.

Eat like the astronauts eat! Freeze dried food – weighing only 20% of its original weight – was a brief fad in the late 1970s and early ’80s, when Action Products International purchased NASA’s freeze-drying technology and brought a selection of snack foods to market, according to the agency. Dehydrated Neapolitan ice cream bars and ice cream sandwiches were particular favorites.

Today, you can still buy these novelty products from companies like Astronaut Foods.

Unlike some items on this list, the Fisher Space Pen was actually developed by a private company for NASA, making its space debut on the Apollo 7 mission in 1968. The “bullet pen” has been featured in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has flown on every manned NASA space flight, according to the company’s history.

That’s great branding for the space age, though the company is still going strong, selling around a million pens annually. No surprise, since the pressurized cartridges that function in temperatures from minus 30 to 250 degrees F also write great.

Despite urban legends, the Space Pen is actually superior to the cheaper but prone-to-breakage – and therefore more dangerous – pencil for manned space travel, Scientific American reported.

The Bowflex looks like it’s from space, and that’s because it kind of is.

The Bowflex Revolution, introduced in 2005, is the direct descendant of technology developed for NASA to help combat muscle and bone loss during space travel, the agency reported.

“The Bowflex, as with most fads, could make its resurgence as other space trends like dehydrated food and Tang rise in popularity,” Tasia Duske, CEO of Museum Hack, told Business Insider.

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