Review: Astronauts Don't Really Eat Astronaut Ice Cream

The treats you bought in gift shops are too crumbly to eat in microgravity.


As a kid, I thought the best part of science museums was the astronaut ice cream in the gift shops. Anyone who shares this nostalgia can nab the freeze-dried confection online. Astronaut Ice Cream—which bills itself as "the original space treat"—is sold via

If the name-brand stuff is sold out (as it was when I last looked), a number of alternatives exist. I tried the ice cream sandwich from Mountain House and the vanilla ice cream chunks from Super Garden. Both have that same chalky crunch that quickly gives way to melting in your mouth. Yum!

Lest anyone worry about the inauthenticity of off-brand space treats, take heed: Astronaut ice cream is a Space Age myth, as the museum product we know was never actually eaten in space. It was created in the 1970s by American Outdoor Products, after a request from the National Air and Space Museum for a gift-shop treat.

The type of freeze-dried ice cream sold in gift shops "wouldn't be easy to eat in microgravity because it's very crumbly," former NASA food scientist Vickie Kloeris told Serious Eats in 2020. NASA did develop freeze-dried vanilla ice cream for the Apollo 7 mission in 1968, but it likely was never enjoyed in orbit. Crew member Walter Cunningham told Vox in 2019 that "we never had that stuff." These days, thanks to private-sector innovations, International Space Station astronauts can enjoy regular ice cream delivered in Elon Musk's SpaceX Dragon, which has a freezer.