Last Call: Which foods are essential for a journey into space?

Marnie Shure
·2 min read
Tomatoes grow in an LED-lighted box, similar to what astronauts use to grow lettuce on the International Space Station, at at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami
Tomatoes grow in an LED-lighted box, similar to what astronauts use to grow lettuce on the International Space Station, at at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami

This morning, we heard about the cookie-shaped object that has entered our solar system, presumed to be a chunk of frozen nitrogen that broke off some Pluto-like planet in another system half a billion years ago and steadily made its way into view of mankind’s most powerful telescopes. What makes this object cookie-like, you ask? Not only does it appear from the renderings to be sort of craggy and crumbly, but the research team notes that the object appeared to be six times wider than it was thick—roughly the proportions of an Oreo cookie. I do sincerely hope the scientists had to carefully measure an Oreo to double-check their claims prior to publication.

And this isn’t the only “space cookie” we’ve written about recently. Last year, DoubleTree (a hotel chain known for its delicious chocolate chip cookies) provided cookie dough to the International Space Station to test whether the cookies, baked in a special zero-gravity oven, came out tasting like regular Earthling cookies. After baking, they were jettisoned back to Earth, eventually landing in the Pacific Ocean. They were then retrieved, brought to Houston, and frozen to await tasting. They took way longer to bake up in space than normal cookies—nearly two hours!—but did emit a cookie aroma aboard the ISS, which is nice to think about.

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We’ve come a long way from the days of “astronaut ice cream”; in fact, they’re even harvesting radishes up there now. How far would extraterrestrial cooking have to advance before you considered a long-haul trip to outer space? Is there a food you wouldn’t be able to live without—or one food that would make the homesickness go away? I think that if I could be promised regular access to Cheez-Its, I could handle almost anything the vastness of space threw at me. (I would have said Sour Patch Kids, but the errant sour powder would surely wreak havoc on the machinery.)