Jun 24, 2024Astronaut Foods

This year, Astronaut Foods proudly celebrates its 50th anniversary!

Since 1974, we've been Earth's original source for freeze-dried astronaut ice cream, delighting space enthusiasts and snack lovers alike. Over the past five decades, our unique and delicious snacks have been a favorite here on Earth.

Astronaut Foods, which is still family-owned by the Smith Family, has always been committed to bringing the excitement of space exploration to your taste buds. Join us as we look back on 50 years of out-of-this-world flavors and memories!

Here’s how it all happened: 

By 1974, our parent company, American Outdoor Products, was already an established leader in the industry. We were freeze-drying camping meals for our sister brand, Backpacker’s Pantry, and had earned a reputation as a pioneer in the freeze-drying space. 

Our founder, Ron Smith, told Serious Eats that in 1974, “Goddard Air and Space Museum contacted us and said that freeze-dried ice cream was used by the space program. They wanted to know if we could make it so they could sell it in their gift shop.’ And we said, ‘Sure, we’ll try it.”

Ron explained that the first rendition of Astronaut Ice Cream “was half a gallon of Neapolitan ice cream that you would buy in the store. It was frozen solid, and then cut with a bandsaw, if you can believe it.” It was then freeze-dried and sold as the original Astronaut Ice Cream. 

“Quite frankly, when we first started doing this, we thought, ‘Well, this is a fad. It'll last a couple of years.’” Ron told Serious Eats. That was 50 years ago, and Astronaut Ice Cream has only gotten more popular! 

These days, however, bandsaws are not part of the process. We are currently offering a range of freeze-dried ice cream sandwich flavors and freeze-dried fruits, and are constantly brainstorming new cosmic treats to add to our lineup. 

Take a quick scroll through Astronaut Foods’ history: 

We take inspiration from the wide range of unique products we’ve offered throughout our 50-year history, including tiny balls of freeze-dried ice cream (above). Once, in the 1990's we even collaborated with Kellogg’s Cereal, with a free Astronaut Ice Cream offer included in your box of Raisin Bran!


Our Kellogg's Collaboration


Some of our early packaging- we've been making Neapolitan ice cream since the beginning!

Astronaut Pizza and French Fries! Would you try these?

Action Snacks!

Early freeze-dried fruit packaging!

As we celebrate Astronaut Foods' 50th anniversary, we reflect on half a century of space food evolution. From our bandsaw beginnings in 1974 to our current lineup of freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches and fruits, we have remained committed to bringing the excitement of space exploration to your taste buds.

We are looking forward to the next frontiers of space food and space travel, and cannot wait to see what the next 50 years bring us!