Bacon Was The Centerpiece Of The First Meal Ever Eaten On The Moon

While Neil Armstrong is celebrated for his "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," it's less commonly known that he and his Apollo 11 crewmates also took several bites of bacon on the moon. Dried cubes of this breakfast staple were part of the American astronaut diet even before the launch of NASA's Apollo program, and notably, bacon was also the main course for the lunar landing meal.

Bacon has a rich history intertwined with space travel. On the Apollo 7 mission, which lasted 11 days, astronauts enjoyed dried bacon squares, peaches, and cinnamon bread cubes on three mornings, while Canadian bacon, applesauce, and strawberry cereal cubes were on the menu for two other days. Bacon then became a part of every breakfast starting with Apollo 8, with either classic bacon squares or Canadian bacon being the central protein of every morning snack. Apollo 8's Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell summed up the preference for pork perfectly: "Happiness is bacon squares for breakfast."

Food for the final frontier

Space food is typically freeze-dried to prevent spoilage and to avoid floating around in zero gravity. While astronauts can rehydrate items like powdered drinks, applesauce, and shrimp cocktail with added water, bacon squares are ready-to-eat dry, making them an ideal snack. Additionally, the salty, fatty flavor of space bacon is a boon to astronauts dealing with congested sinuses that can't drain in a gravity-free environment.

The Apollo 11 crew had bacon cubes on its daily breakfast menu, along with Canadian bacon and sausage patties. More significantly, however, bacon was part of the lunar module's meal pack. In an article penned for Popular Science, spaceflight historian Amy Shira Teitel reported that this pack also consisted of peaches, sugar cookie cubes, pineapple grapefruit juice, and coffee. As a result, in a gesture that seemed to salute America's enduring love for this breakfast meat, bacon holds the honor of being the first food ever consumed on the Moon.

Bacon's crash landing

Bacon remained a popular menu item for several subsequent Apollo missions, even making a triumphant return to the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 12 mission. This time, unfortunately, Commander Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr. lost his bacon cubes while exploring the lunar expanse, where they presumably floated away into the vast depths of outer space. "What happened to my bacon?" he asked when he noticed his snack missing. "I guess it got away," he sadly concluded.

Strangely enough, perhaps due to changing recipes, cooking techniques, or evolving tastes, bacon gradually fell out of favor in the astronaut diet. Teitel noted that while bacon was stored in the pantries of Apollo 13 and 14, the crews didn't express the same enthusiasm as earlier astronauts. The reputation of dried bacon only went downhill from there, as Apollo 15 arrived back to Earth with bacon leftovers despite consuming almost everything else in their food supply. By 2002, space shuttles had discontinued the squares, replacing them with rehydratable dried sausage patties. Still, bacon will forever go down in history as the breakfast of lunar champions.