Inviting Writing: Lost Cereal, Kool-Aid and Astronaut Food | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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Inviting Writing: Lost Cereal, Kool-Aid and Astronaut Food

Some of our readers long lost foods include Quisp, freeze-dried space food, fond memories of supper and more

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quisp cereal

Quisp cereal boxes -- have they returned? Image courtesy of Flickr user CrazyUncleJoe-MoPho

Many readers sent in intriguing stories of lost food in response to this month’s Inviting Writing challenge. We don’t have room to publish all of them in full, but we wanted to share these final food memories before moving on to next month’s theme. Look for the next invitational on Tuesday, May 31st (Monday, our usual Inviting Writing day, is a holiday).

Food of the Astronauts

Michael Sessums

When I was growing up in the 1960s and early 1970s, we were all excited about NASA’s moon missions. We knew we would all get a chance to go to the moon and beyond someday. While we waited for our turn atop the Saturn 5, we could be just like the astronauts by getting mom to buy food the TV told us these intrepid explores consumed.

Drinking Tang would provide a refreshing cosmic cool-down after exploring our backyard moonscape while wearing our bouncy moon boots and talking to Mission Control on our walkie-talkies (or tin cans and string). Nibbling on compact Space Food Sticks gave us more energy (like we needed it), and its push-up packaging kept it in our mouths and out of our reel-to-reel flight computers.

I was so excited when my mom took us to the real Mission Control at NASA near Houston, Texas. What did we find there? Huge rockets, space capsules, space suits, a rocket sled and a moon buggy, to name a few. What else? More astronaut food, of course!

Freeze-dried veggies and meat, a meal in a bag with a slurping tube, and my favorite—freeze-dried ice cream! We got Neapolitan so everyone could have their favorite flavor. Boy that was good!

Some of the freeze-dried foods from NASA are still available today, but the Space Food Sticks went the way of the Dodo Bird. My favorite was peanut butter flavor. A pocket full of those an a Thermos of Tang and I was all set for my next adventure.

King Vitamin and Quisp cereal

By Kathryn (Katie) George

These were more or less Cap’n Crunch knock-offs, but easily the best cereal anyone ever made anywhere, at anytime.

I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the 1960s, and my brothers and sisters and I took turns visiting Grandma and Nana in Clinton, Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi River. Grandma would pick us up and we would drive down country roads (no interstate then!), and when we got to Clinton, we stopped at the grocery store. Grandma always was willing to buy one of these two cereals (and maybe both!).

Of course this was way before “sugar” was a four-letter word. We ate Super Sugar Smacks, Sugar Pops, and Sugar Crisp. But the best was Quisp and King Vitamin.

And no one poured it into the bowl like Grandma!

Tangerine Kool-Aid

By Karen Hamilton

My father was a working man.  A hard-working man.  He was a carpenter who built custom homes in rural Texas.  That meant he needed DINNER at noon, not lunch, and the evening meal was SUPPER.  In the 1960s, when all four of us kids were out of school for summer break, Daddy would drive up in his old green Chevy station wagon just as the noon fire whistle blew and Mama would be putting dinner on the table. It was always a big meal. Maybe fried chicken or steak, perhaps meat loaf or fresh fish, accompanied by two sides and bread. Although we weren’t encouraged to have drinks with our meals (my mother always said, “You kids are not raccoons and don’t need to wash your food down. CHEW!”), we often had the summertime treat of Kool-Aid. The family’s favorite flavor above all others was Tangerine  We just loved it and were so unhappy when it was no longer available. Through the years we’ve tried other brands and variations, but they never quite lived up to the memory of those long-ago meals when we were all together at the table.

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