I remember it very clearly. It was third grade and my mom had definitely shelled out $20 and signed a permission slip that she made a big deal out of so that I could join a field trip to a local science museum. The field of study: space, in all its stupendous infinite wonder. And one of the things we little, eight-year-old scientists experimented with: "astronaut ice cream," a freeze-dried snack that consists of hard, water-sapped ice cream shaped like a brick.
NASA totally still sells this stuff, with packets hocked in museums and gift shops across the country, as well as on Amazon. When you bite into it, it tastes sugary enough, but also chalky, like the marshmallows in packaged with cereal. It was apparently developed by the Whirlpool Corporation for NASA's Apollo missions in the '60s, but never used widely. "It wasn't that popular," one NASA food scientist named Vickie Kloeris said in a blog post written in 2005. "Most of the crew really didn't like it, so it isn't used any more," Kloeris said at the time. Apparently, "space ice cream" as it was also called, didn't even make it to space, according to a 2016 Vox report (and the video above).
"We never had that stuff," Walt Cunningham, the sole surviving astronaut from the Apollo 7 mission, told Vox last year. No mention of the chalky substance is included in any of the mission transcripts either. The Vox video takes it a step further and also explains that, actually, space ice cream would have totally sucked in space because eating crumbly food that could break apart in zero-gravity could endanger the functionality of sensitive instruments. In the present-day, astronauts who want ice cream...just eat regular ice cream like you and me.
In other words, grade school lied to me and my entire class, and then charged my poor mother $20 for it and whatever the gift shop price of astronaut ice cream was in the '90s. Watch the full Vox video for more details on the history behind this weird, sad fraud on the American people.