fruitcake

You have to love any story that begins, “During the 1970s and 1980s the U.S. military conducted a series of tests on fruitcake.” From the Annals of Improbable Research, we have learned that a couple of decades ago, NASA experimented with fruitcake as a “contingency ration” that could provide astronauts with 100 percent of their nutritional requirements should something go wrong in space. (More wrong than having to eat fruitcake, that is.)

NASA mainly seems to have doctored your basic fruitcake recipe by adding protein and some extra vitamins. Then researchers stuck the fruitcakes in cold storage for three years or not-so-cold storage for one year. Now, fruitcake is notoriously non-edible. So you can only imagine how good it tasted after years in a refrigerator.

But astronauts are a hardy bunch, and as one report declared, “Fortified fruitcake was found to be acceptable.” Astronauts were even allowed to eat it during non-emergencies as a special treat:

Astronaut acceptance of this special nutrient fortified fruitcake had been confirmed on the Apollo 17 Flight, and therefore was included in the Skylab food supply as a contingency food. As a further testimony to its acceptability, NASA approved the consumption of some of this cake on Christmas Day 1973 as a holiday treat.

Now, let’s face it, even if NASA’s calling this fruitcake, we’re basically talking about energy bars. And just imagine how far you’d get if you tried to serve a Clif Bar or a Powerbar as a “holiday treat” next week. The least NASA could have done was add a little bit of chocolate.