LifeAfterDx--Diabetes Uncensored

A internet journal from one of the first T1 Diabetics to use continuous glucose monitoring. Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

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Location: New Mexico, United States

Hi! I’m William “Lee” Dubois (called either Wil or Lee, depending what part of the internet you’re on). I’m a diabetes columnist and the author of four books about diabetes that have collectively won 16 national and international book awards. (Hey, if you can’t brag about yourself on your own blog, where can you??) I have the great good fortune to pen the edgy Dear Abby-style advice column every Saturday at Diabetes Mine; write the Diabetes Simplified column for dLife; and am one of the ShareCare diabetes experts. My work also appears in Diabetic Living and Diabetes Self-Management magazines. In addition to writing, I’ve spent the last half-dozen years running the diabetes education program for a rural non-profit clinic in the mountains of New Mexico. Don’t worry, I’ll get some rest after the cure. LifeAfterDx is my personal home base, where I get to say what and how I feel about diabetes and… you know… life, free from the red pens of editors (all of whom I adore, of course!).

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The return of the Space Food Stick

When I was a kid, we put three guys on top of a bomb and lit the fuse. Oh, the “we” I’m referring to wasn’t my family, it was our country. When the bomb went off, it launched the guys to the moon. It also launched quite a few other things back home, as well.

My personal favorite among the early consumer spin offs from the space program was the Pillsbury Space Food Stick. These were small individually-wrapped fudgy, chocolaty tubes that the astronauts were supposed to be eating on the way to the moon (while drinking their Tang). They were soft, and didn’t create crumbs. A good thing in zero gravity, my dad explained to me. He wouldn’t get them often, and they didn’t fill me up enough for a meal, but they were great snacks. I doubt they provided the kind of nutrition a growing boy needed, but they fueled my flights of fancy while jumping around my front yard trying to imagine what it would like to walk on the moon with its 1/6 gravity.

 Naturally, I was dismayed to learn at the Museum of Space History a few years ago that Space Food Sticks weren’t on the menu on the way to the moon. It was just clever marketing. Anyway, like many other things in life that I loved as a kid—boxed Noodles Romanoff, Sarah Lee frozen brownies with the shiny icing, and Bugles corn snacks eaten off each fingertip—I never expected to taste a 1970s Space Food Stick again.

What on earth got me on this topic today? Well, being such a “famous” blogger, I get dozens of press releases every day from PR firms trying to hock all manner of goods to the Diabetic Population. My stock answer is: Send me a sample of whatever it is, and I’ll think about it.

Well, along with an automatic pill dispenser the size of a typewriter, super-warm winter socks fit for Ice Station Zebra, and a half-dozen uninspiring cookbooks, I got a box of these:

 They were billed as being gluten-free, low sugar, stevia-sweetened food bars—so you can see why I was in no hurry to try them. Plus, they were not the first D-friendly “food” bars I’d received. The box sat next to my desk unopened for a few months. Then last week, I got disorganized and ran out of Kind Bars, my go-to daily breakfast. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I took a risk and opened the Promax LS energy bar box. The bar was small, and heavy. I prepared myself for another “healthy” incarnation of sawdust. I was so suspicious that I decided to hold off on my bolus until after the first bite.

I opened the strange, matt-finish paper-like foil pouch, sniffed at the bar suspiciously like a stray dog does, then took a bite. All of a sudden it was 1971. I was eight years old, and I was eating a Space Food Stick again.


And I’m not the only one who finds the Promax bars yummy. I made the mistake of letting 11-year-old Rio eat one, so he could see what a Space Food Stick tasted like, and now the box is suspiciously empty.

There are some other differences between the past and the present beyond the shape. On the dark side of the moon, the Promax bar is chocolate-coated, and the coating is crumbly. The crumbs are likely to break off and float around your space capsule, gumming up your instruments (or staining your khakis). But on the bright side of the moon, the new Promax bars are more filling, and I find one holds me just fine until lunch.

The specs are 140 calories, 21 carbs, and 9 grams of fiber. One bar has about 10% of your key vitamins and minerals, and about a quarter of the protein your body needs for the day.

But the most important difference between Space Food and Promax is that there are no rockets. I’ve eaten three Promax bars so far, and my blood sugar has stayed firmly down to earth each time.


Blogger Bernard said...

I experienced the whole Space Program from the wilds of Ireland and missed Tang and all the other goodies.

Thanks for the pointer to this, I really like the stable BGs you mention. I might try these out on my next mission.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Scott S said...

I think at least a few of us are old enough to remember the Pillsbury (Space) Food Sticks even if we missed the original moon missions. I wrote about Space Food Sticks on my non-diabetes blog (see for the post). As it turns out, although Pillsbury (now part of General Mills) no longer makes or sells them, a New York company started making them using input from food scientist Mario Medri. For the record, the new food sticks although not sugar-free or sweetened with stevia happen to have fewer carbs than the Promax LS energy bars do (the resurrected Food Sticks contain 18 grams of carbs vs. 21 grams for Promax bars, and the calorie count is 130 vs. 140 for Promax). You can order the resurrected originals at (the nutrition facts can be seen at, and I know they were free, but it looks like these are interesting if no better than the food sticks on the market today.

5:18 PM  

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