Sweet Slim Jims: Remembering Pillsbury Space Food Sticks


Pillsbury has made many a product since 1872. Perhaps one of the most forgettable was Space Food Sticks, a sort of chewy-chocolate Slim Jim vitamin.

The Pillsbury Space Food Stick never really actually made as a top food served in space. In fact, if you were going to serve “space men” something chocolate, perhaps a chocolate bar would deliver more of the excitement and sugar rush that one would wish if you were circling about the moon in one of the Apollo capsules.

Astronauts would want something that reminded them a little bit more of what they might buy in a Houston, 7-Eleven. The trademark had their first use on or about January 5, 1968.

The brand had a number of problems, most evident from a brief look at the packaging, which tried to sell to too many audiences at once. Each stick was “44 calories” which was an obvious ploy to sell it to dieting women (and the stray man) looking for something that tasted good, was nutritious and filled with vitamins. The “Space Food” brand was obviously a ploy to hijack some of the Tang buzz, which was then all a craze with kids.

Strangely, there were 14 to a box, each packaged in a sort of foil. They were, according to the trademark office:


USPTO Description

As I recall the taste, it had a vile tang to it, but the tang was more an aftertaste, perhaps a result of the vitamins and preservatives added, with a bit of the metallic terroir of chocolate Ex-Lax. The texture was equally chewy (promised on the front), not quite candy, not quite a chocolate cupcake.

There were many brands that were actually popularized by their use on NASA ships; BrandlandUSA detailed them in a roundup of Apollo and space program brands.

Curious if any others had experienced these treats.

Two Pillsbury snack products of the 1970s, from a time when food-tech first a thing.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website BrandlandUSA.com has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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  1. Yes, I remember these, and can still remember what they tasted like. Some of the protein bars you get nowadays have a similar texture and taste. They didn’t taste good by any means, it was more the novelty that made kids want to eat them – rather like Tang which was GROSS, but we wanted to imagine we were eating and drinking something like the astronauts.

  2. They’re more like power bars than the Tootsie Roll-esque stick in the picture above, but the “Space Food Stick” name has been revived recently. Available online and at science museum gift shops; they’re okay but leave you a little thirsty.

  3. I remember those! I liked them, too, when I was a kid. WOW…I had totally forgotten them until I saw this post.

  4. I enjoyed both the taste and texture of these as a kid. Not candy-like as in a Tootsie Roll or brownie like. Somewhere in between. They made peanut butter as well, but I never saw them.
    If I recall correctly, I had one a decade or so ago, so they were still making them then. I could be hallucinating? Perhaps a secret ingredient in the stick?

  5. I remember Space Food Sticks well– actually used to like them (hangs head in shame). I wasn’t a big eater as a kid so anything that I liked to eat that had any possibility of nutritional value, however dubious or remote, was encouraged.

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