First Moon Meal? A Hot Dog

First Moon Meal? A Hot Dog

As we celebrate Moonwalk Day on July 20, when Neil Armstrong made that famous first footprint on the dust of the moon’s surface 53 years ago, it might be nice to remember the first meal that he and Buzz Aldrin enjoyed when they got back from doing that famous moonwalk that would put Michael Jackson to shame: it was a hot dog.

It did not look much like the kind of dog most Americans were plucking off their own grill that day, but it is officially what the meal was, done MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) style. I hate to think that there was no Budweiser to wash it down, and the thought of having to drink Tang with a dog is downright awful, but that is part of the price military types endure for us.

According to NASA, the Apollo 11 crew enjoyed (insert Dan Aykroyd’s Beldar Conehead voice here) “thermostabilized frankfurters with a thermostabilized cheddar cheese food spread in a foil pouch.” Yummy.

Brandi Dean, a NASA public affairs officer, confirmed the story, with a proviso. She said that the lunar dog looked different than your standard earthly sausage. “The Apollo 11 crew ate a sort of military version of a hot dog,” is what Dean said.

Imagine Neil and Buzz kicking back after building up an appetite picking up rocks and hopping around on the moon and they come back to the Lunar Excursion Module (that cool guys with the Right Stuff called the “Lem”) and they check out the cupboard on that July 20, and they find the hot dog packs. Done like a dinner! The most American of meals!

They dig in and start talking about what Collins might be eating, all by himself up there in orbit, the only guy at that point ever to really see the Dark Side of the Moon. They see his point of light moving in the clear sky, looking for all the world like a jet flying way up there above them.

The dogs are surprisingly smoky and good. “Not bad,” Neil says.  Buzz nods, a Jersey boy on an adventure. “Not quite Yankee Stadium,” he says. “But not bad.”

They both look outside the portal at the grey dust, thinking of baseball, and hot dogs, and their best girls, and getting homesick.

Through all the years, and thinking of that day when I saw Walter Cronkite’s pure joy at seeing the astronauts walk on the moon on our big, solid wood console TV, I can surmise one thing.

No ketchup was on that Lem.

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Mark Andel

As a former theater critic for the North Loop News and a reviewer of local bars for Timeout Chicago, as well as an occasional beer writer for the Tribune Redeye, I love Chicago for all its quirky, out-of-the-way places, and its character — not to mention its characters. And hot dog stands. I’ve been a reporter, a dock worker, an advertising copywriter, an English teacher, and now — a hot dog blogger. Who would have figured? My partner in this endeavor is Hot-C, also a teacher — and a great wife. Get in touch: [email protected]

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