After nearly 60 years, America’s first diet soda has reached its expiration date.When it was launched in 1963, TAB, the saccharine-sweetened, zero-calorie cola was initially marketed to women as a way to enhance their feminine appeal by maintaining a slender physique. This was at the beginning of the “Feminist Revolution” when women were enrolling in college to pursue professional careers rather than the traditional MRS degree. And, before gyms and exercise workouts targeted to women.It would be another two decades before Jane Fonda’s workouts and Richard Simmons’ “Sweating to the Hits” would become part of American popular culture.See some of the TAB marketing advertisements.
For twenty years, TAB was KING of the diet colas. I remember my graduate professor bringing a can of TAB to our seminar in early 1980s and male students were smirking that it was a cola for women trying to lose weight. Alas, with the launch of Diet Cola in 1982, the fate of TAB was sealed. A small but devoted “cult” followers of TAB aficionados continued to keep the brand alive as Diet Coke followed by Coke Zero swallowed the market shares of diet cola products.
Today, Coca-Cola produces 900 million cases of Diet Coke versus an anorexic 3 million cases of TAB. With increasing pressure to increase efficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic, Coke like other consumer product behemoths made the decision to streamline it production facilities and focus its resources on best sellers. Coke had previously announced that Odwalla juices and Zico coconut water would be discontinued by end of 2020.
For TAB devotees, both men and women, the death of TAB is like mourning the loss of an old friend along with nostalgic memories of happy, pre-pandemic life. Although most will adapt to new sodas, they will miss the romanticized memories associated with a bygone era.
TAB … Thank you for the memories… RIP…