Via Discovery: During the Gemini flights, food wasn’t really needed (as astronauts only spent a few hours in space), but to see how the human body reacted to consuming food in microgravity was important, especially as longer forays to lunar orbit in the upcoming Apollo Program required food supplies for a few days.
On the March 23 flight, NASA had some food experiments to test on the two-man crew of the Gemini III space capsule, Commander Gus Grissom and Pilot John Young. The prime focus was to see how astronauts could work and eat efficiently while keeping mess and odor to a minimum.
The Gemini III menu contained hot dogs, brownies, chicken legs and apple sauce, all contained in squeezy tubes or small packets. Each item was delicately packaged to save on space, improve on safety and convenience. The main point here was that it was to be a controlled scientific experiment.
Alas, John Young had other ideas.
A little under two hours into the mission, just as the two astronauts were discussing the food that had been packed for them, Young produced a corned beef on rye sandwich from his flight suit pocket and presented it to a surprised Commander Grissom.
The following discussion ensued:
John Young shortly before the Gemini III launch… plus concealed sandwich (NASA).
Grissom: What is it?
Young: Corned beef sandwich.
Grissom: Where did that come from?
Young: I brought it with me. Let’s see how it tastes. Smells, doesn’t it?
Grissom: Yes, it’s breaking up. I’m going to stick it in my pocket.
Young: Is it?
Young: It was a thought, anyway.
Young: Not a very good one.
Grissom: Pretty good, though, if it would just hold together.
Young: Want some chicken leg?
Grissom: No, you can handle that.
Grissom: What was the time of that booster again? What elevation?
The whole episode lasted for 30 seconds, and the corned beef tasting session lasted for only 10 of those seconds. Apparently the sandwich didn’t cope very well in microgravity conditions.
Needless to say, NASA and Congress were not amused.