Saturday, November 13, 2010

Biscuits & Astronauts

I wasn’t a kid enamored by astronauts or rockets, and Space Camp didn’t interest me. I think it all seemed too obvious - a vehicle that takes to you space, so what?  Now, if a celestial tongue descended from the sky and licked us up to galaxies without gravity, then I might have paid attention.  But now I am ever curious at the heady thrill of the naïve aplomb of space travel.  I can’t resist thinking of astronauts returning to Earth as miniature versions of themselves because of the loss of bone suffered in space Bone Loss in Space

I found myself quickly un-slouched when astronauts were referenced in the Sanitation Class that Meg and I are taking at the local Institute for the Culinary Arts. 

In the 1950’s, NASA was confronted with two food issues in their space program: crumbs and food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria and toxins.  Crumbs float in zero gravity, and they float right into sensitive equipment and, I believe, possibly into an astronaut’s eye causing a painful cornea scratch.  Pillsbury solved this problem by producing bite-sized foods coated with a crumb-preventing material.  (a beneficial invention for those who date, or eat in the company of others)

Pillsbury had one more problem to solve.  Bacteria and toxins in food can cause illnesses that are characterized by vomiting, nausea, etc.  While zero gravity sex is a fantasy of many, zero-gravity vomiting is not.  The solution to food borne illness in space was found in Pillsbury’s formulation of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP pronounced hass-ip) system.  HACCP “is based on identifying significant biological, chemical, or physical hazards at specific points within a product’s flow through an operation.  Once identified, the hazards can be prevented, eliminated, or reduced to safe levels.”  Basically, any potential point of contamination is identified and then critical limits, monitoring procedures, and corrective actions are established.  The HACCP system was the protective action under which the food for the Apollo spacecraft was prepared. 

Thanks to Pillsbury, we wear hair-nets (or until then, bandanas).  We bake for you like Pillsbury baked for the astronauts.   These two birds bake muffins, but if you’d like to bake some Astronaut Cupcakes at home this weekend then check out the recipe in this blog post: Astronaut Cupcakes

- Trilety


  1. Very interesting. I like to think about the little doughboy mascot floating around inside the Apollo 13 space capsule, designing crumb-free biscuits like the crew's lives depended on it.

    Thanks for the link and I can't wait to see how the Two Birds muffins taste in zero gravity:)

  2. I've always wanted to travel in space and experience weightlessness, but as one prone to motion sickness, you're reference to Zero-G vomiting has given me second thought. But I'll never think twice about your delicious baked goods!

  3. This post tells me that the possibility of crumblessly eating biscuits in bed is a reality. Such hope! ;)

  4. Richard, Megan, and Elisabeth - What a funny trio you are! Though you may all be bigger than a Kindle or an iPad, you'd be the optimal sort of entertainment for a trip to Space. Thanks for visiting!