Pillsbury Space Food Sticks, the vintage snacks for astronauts that kids loved

The story of Pillsbury Space Food Sticks, the vintage snacks for astronauts that kids loved

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Space Food Sticks nutritious than usual between-meal snacks.

SPACE FOOD STICKS — A chewy little “energy stick” developed for U.S. Aerospace Research, and taken aboard the Apollo moon mission, has been made available to the public as a new idea in snack foods.

Developed by The Pillsbury Company under government contract, it was originally meant to be eaten only by the most exclusive “club” in the world — the men who will make long flights in space.

Because Space Food Sticks were intended to supply high energy over long periods of time, they had to have carbohydrates for quick energy, unsaturated fats for lasting energy and plenty of high-quality protein.

Pillsbury scientists worked a year and a half to develop the new food. At that stage, it was the nutrition “ideal” the government had specified, but flavor was only “pretty good.” So Pillsbury flavor experts went to work to give it snack flavors.

Boxes of vintage Space Food Sticks

Vintage Space Food Sticks product boxes from 1972 (2)

Refining the food stick recipe

Getting the energy sticks to taste like snacks was one of the great headache-makers of all time at the Pillsbury labs. To change the flavor, you add something to the recipe. This changes the nutrition. So you take something out of the recipe. This changes the flavor. So you add… you get the idea. Nevertheless, they finally made it.

The result was a unique snack, Space Food Sticks. They are a little chewier and sweeter-tasting than the original spaceman food, tasty enough so children think they’re candy. But with lasting energy, high-quality protein and nutrition fully equal to the food men could live on in outer space.

Pillsbury scientists sized Space Food Sticks down to about 44 calories each, much less than most snacks.

They are an ideal snack to give the children between meals, Instead of just “filling,” like most snacks, Space Food Sticks can improve the child’s overall nutrition.

For adults too, Space Food Sticks are a handy way to get the energy pickup so often needed during the day — and so often supplied by high-calorie sweet or starchy foods.

Space Food Sticks were developed by the same Pillsbury research group that was responsible for over a hundred other space foods.

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Pillsbury Food Sticks boxes in 1972

Chewy chocolate mint, chewy chocolate, chewy peanut butter, chewy chocolate malt

Vintage Space Food Sticks product boxes from 1972 (1)

Welcome back, Astronauts We were proud to give you a lift. (July 1969)

Pillsbury would like to congratulate Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, Michael Collins and the whole U.S. Aerospace team on the success of their historic moon-landing mission. We’re proud of them and their achievement.

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And we’re proud of our contribution: the development of a special, high-energy food for U.S. Aerospace use — the high-energy food that was carried aboard the Apollo 11. And now, that same high-energy food is available to you in a new snack form called Space Food Sticks.

Space Food Sticks give you balanced nutrition in a chewy little stick. They deliver two kinds of energy: instant energy and endurance energy. They give you the same kind of protein found in fresh, whole milk. And best of all, they’re just 41 calories apiece.

Next time you need a quick-energy pick-up, pick up a package at your grocery store. Pillsbury Space Food Sticks — in chocolate, caramel or peanut butter. They’ll help keep you on the go. No matter how far you’re going.


July 25 1969 - Pillsbury Welcome back astronauts - Apollo 11 moon

Portable energy: Take it along

Whether you go a block from home or hundreds of miles, Space Food Sticks are the handiest way yet to carry extra energy along.

Young swingers need lots of healthy energy; Space Food Sticks supply it.

Each Space Food Stick is around four inches long, about as thick as your little finger, and comes in its own dust-tight wrapper. They fit handily into pocket or purse, never smear, melt, crumble or spill.

That makes them perfect for active people on the go, Whatever your activities, wherever you go, Space Food Sticks are a high- energy snack that’s as close as your pocket.

Vintage Space Food Sticks from the 60s and 70s

Remember Snackin' Cake - the '70s dessert you could mix, bake and serve in 1 pan?

High-quality protein, the muscle builder

Space Food Sticks have the type of protein you must eat to build muscle.

It includes eight essential protein “building blocks”‘ that the human body can’t manufacture, but must have to build muscle and other body tissues. Children must have these elements to grow and develop properly. Nutritionists call this “high-quality protein.” It’s the kind of protein you find in milk, just one of the reasons Space Food Sticks are better for you than most things that taste this good.

The space food sticks developed for the U.S. spacemen might have to do more than simply supply a bright spot in a daily space menu.

In an emergency that required the spaceman to live “buttoned up” in their airtight spacesuits, they could not eat the regular space foods. There would be no way to get those foods into the helmet without letting air out.

MORE: How do astronauts go to the bathroom in space?

However, government scientists invented a way for spacemen to eat a thin, round stick of food, without letting the air escape.

This gave the spacemen’s food sticks not only their form, but also their nutrition.

Since they might be the spacemen’s only food for long periods, they had to supply what most snacks don’t: good nutrition. Enough protein, a certain amount of fat, minerals, and so on.

Because Space Food Sticks offer all these values, they have been called “the perfect between-meal energy snack.”

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Vintage Space Food Sticks box

Space Food Sticks (1971)

Presenting the best thing that ever came between two meals

If you like to nibble between meals, chances are you fill up on a lot of empty calories. But now you don’t have to. Because now you can nibble on something that does a lot more than just fill you up. We call them Food Stocks, and they are made by Pillsbury.


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Pillsbury Food Sticks (1972)

Introducing Chewy Orange and Chewy Chocolate Mint. Now our line is two flavors longer.

If you haven’t tried Pillsbury Food Sticks, now is the time to do it.

Because now, to join our regulars, come two delicious new flavors: Chewy Chocolate Mint and Chewy Orange. No matter which flavor you choose, you get the same good nutrition. In fact, every single stick contains a balance of protein, vitamins and minerals with amounts of carbohydrates and fats normally needed for good nutrition. They’re each about 44 calories.

If that sounds better than what you’re nibbling on now, then use this coupon toward Pillsbury Food Sticks. We think you’ll like the change.

Pillsbury Space Food Sticks flavors from 1972

Food sticks — A balanced nutrition food.

Other flavors: Chewy Caramel, Chewy Chocolate, Chewy Peanut Butter, Chewy Chocolate Malt

14 sticks/Net weight 4-1/2 ounces

The story of Pillsbury Space Food Sticks, the vintage snacks kids used to love

For fast energy, lasting energy and body-building protein

Most snack foods are designed to give you quick energy. And that’s all. But Space Food Sticks give you more. Because they’re nutritious energy snacks.

Quick energy: The carbohydrates in Space Food Sticks are easy for your body to digest. So they get energy to the brain and muscles faster than any other food.

Lasting energy: And that lift will last longer. Because Space Food Sticks also supply a measured portion of fat, the most concentrated source of food energy. Your body needs fat to sustain the energy it acquires.

Many foods have too much fat. But the fat in Space Food Sticks is ideally balanced with carbohydrates and body-building, high-quality protein. That’s how Space Food Sticks supply you with nutrition and energy at the same time.

Pillsbury developed many space foods

Sandwiches that won’t come apart if you drop them. A “brick” that turns into stew when you add water.

Meat that needs no refrigeration, cake that won’t crumble, pickle relish in dry, chewy slices — these are just a few of more than a hundred space flight foods that Pillsbury has developed for the U.S. Aerospace Program. It was as part of this effort that Space Food Sticks were developed.

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Comments on this story

16 Responses

    1. I don’t know, but I sure do remember them being good when I was a kid! I would love to try them again. What are they made of, sugar?

      1. Not even close and they’re only in peanut butter, which don’t taste anything like the original.

    2. Will you tell me the ingredients? I sure do miss those tasteless little sticks that tasted like blah tootsie rolls. I don’t know if I really did like them (I think I did) or if it was because it said ‘space’. I would love to try making them.

      I am hoping you will consent. I have only been able to find one recipe and no ingredient list anywhere.

  1. These are only in peanut butter and my husband bought these for me. They stink. You think you made them more palatable, but I loved the chocolate ones, just like they were (as did many people), but even my husband, and sons, who all love peanut butter, doesn’t like them. I’m disgusted that he paid this much for that box of junk ($30 + $10 s&h) that nobody is eating anyone fast. Don’t waste your money. Part of what makes a good memorable is the flavor, and when someone decides to change the flavor to make them “TASTE BETTER”, it loses the memorable flavour appeal. Like the new company that bought the butterfinger candy bar, and decided to make the flavor new and improved, and now they don’t taste buttery at all. In fact they taste very much like a clark bar nite. I’ve talked to many people that loved them, and will never buy another. Please just make the original chocolate space sticks that taste like the original space sticks. Otherwise why bother trying to bring back history.?!

  2. I would really like to buy Pilsbury space food sticks. I get the feeling nobody makes them anymore.

    1. I would really be glad to buy them again, too – if they haven’t ‘improved’ them. I am learning to dread that word. If you ever find a place that sells the original, please share.


  3. The fakes have been discontinued. You know I thought the originals were good at the time but sometimes I think we remember things to be better than they might have been . I really remember enjoying the texture and the portability and it was cool that astronaut’s ate them. I wish they would bring them back.

  4. I was involved in making these in 1969 and 1970. I thought they were quite good. It was an interesting experience.

  5. I remember eating the chocolate sticks ca. 1970-72 (aged 4-6) and my grandmother making a comment to me during a phone conversation that she knew I liked these. I only remember the box design with the man skiing (as I scrolled through the article, I found the box I remember).

  6. I just tried pure protein, chocolate, peanut caramel bars, and wow- they taste a lot like the original chocolate space sticks!

  7. When I was about ten, my aunt Evelyn handed down all her Cosmopolitan magazines to us; I read an article in one about the development of Space Food Sticks, and in it a woman commented on the test product: “What’s that—a tampon for a midget?”

  8. what we need is recipes to make these and other items…..I LOVED these Space Sticks and a few of the other items related to them. Like the Breakfast Squares and Figurines. Please bring these back in their original recipes or someone find the recipes and share?

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