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NASA // David C. Bowman
NASA // David C. Bowman

High Schoolers Compete to Have Their Food Served In Space

NASA // David C. Bowman
NASA // David C. Bowman

When it comes to eating in outer space, taste usually takes a back seat to practicality. This has led astronauts to dine on some pretty funky dishes over the years, including thermostabilized yams, over-steeped tea, and borscht from a tube. With their second annual HUNCH cooking competition, NASA is now hoping to aim their sights a little higher while teaching high school students a thing or two about food science along the way.

Launched in 2015, HUNCH (High schools United with NASA to Create Hardware) gives high school culinary teams from across the country the opportunity to compete to have their dish served on the International Space Station. This year, 30 teams are vying for the top honor. Of those teams, 10 finalists will be chosen to visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center Food Lab in April to prepare their entrees one last time for a panel of judges, including astronauts. The winning dish will be processed and delivered to the crew aboard the ISS.

The first round of taste tests began this week, and the meals—like baked penne and quinoa curry—hardly resembled what most people associate with normal astronaut fare. In case cooking for astronauts wasn’t stressful enough, the competitors also had to adhere to a strict set of nutritional guidelines to qualify. Each dish had to be vegetable-based, contain at least three grams of fiber, less than eight grams of sugar, less than 300 milligrams of sodium, and contain between 300 and 500 calories. On top of that, the teenage chefs also had to make sure their food was suitable for processing and consumption in microgravity. Glenn Johnson, a HUNCH design engineer from the Johnson Space Center, said in a video for NASA, “Some of the challenges that we’re looking at are how do you have good nutrition, good flavor, good smells after cooking the food, and then [the astronauts] may not eat it until three years later.”

The winning dish at last year’s HUNCH competition was rice and beans with coconut milk from Phoebus High School. A space-friendly version of their recipe will be sent to astronauts aboard the International Space Station in March.

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Watch Astronauts Assemble Pizza in Space
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iStock

Most everyone enjoys a good pizza party: Even astronauts living aboard the International Space Station.

As this video from NASA shows, assembling pizza in zero gravity is not only possible, it also has delicious results. The inspiration for the pizza feast came from Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut who was craving one of his home country’s national dishes while working on the ISS. NASA’s program manager for the space station, Kirk Shireman, sympathized with his colleague and ordered pizzas to be delivered to the station.

NASA took a little longer responding to the request than your typical corner pizzeria might. The pizzas were delivered via the Orbital ATK capsule, and once they arrived, the ingredients had to be assembled by hand. The components didn’t differ too much from regular pizzas on Earth: Flatbread, tomato sauce, and cheese served as the base, and pepperoni, pesto, olives, and anchovy paste made up the toppings. Before heating them up, the astronauts had some fun with their creations, twirling them around like "flying saucers of the edible kind,” according to astronaut Randy Bresnik.

In case the pizza party wasn’t already a success, it also coincided with movie night on the International Space Station.

[h/t KHQ Q6]

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The Most Popular Christmas Candy in Each State, Mapped
CandyStore.com
CandyStore.com

For those who didn’t get their full candy fix last Halloween, the holiday season provides plenty of opportunities to indulge. From candy canes to chocolate Santas, there’s something for everyone—but before splurging on sweet stocking stuffers, check out the interactive map below. Created by bulk candy retailer CandyStore.com, it breaks down the top three favorite candies in each state.

To determine which Christmas treats were the most popular, the team at CandyStore.com surveyed over 50,000 customers and spoke with major candy manufacturers and distributors. Not surprisingly, candy canes were a hit in numerous states, including Washington, Delaware, Vermont, Georgia, Maine, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. California, Nevada, West Virginia, and Kansas residents, however, got into the seasonal spirit with peppermint bark. North Dakota residents preferred chocolate Santas. And Alabama, Michigan, and Utah liked Jelly Belly’s Reindeer Corn.

Christmas candy sales in America are projected to rake in nearly $2 billion for confectioners, according to an estimate provided by the National Confectionary Association. Spend your holiday bonus wisely on treats everyone will appreciate by checking out CandyStore.com’s full results below.

Source: CandyStore.com

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