Tab (soft drink)

From Academic Kids

Missing image
This photo of a can of Tab partially shows its highly stylized logo.

Tab, also spelled TaB, was the first diet soda produced by the Coca-Cola Company. It was introduced in 1963 as something of an experiment, and has been reformulated several times. It was initially sweetened with saccharin. After the FDA issued a ban proposal on saccharin, aspartame was used. When the saccharin ban was lifted in 1991, the current formula (going heavy on the saccharin) was brought back reincarnated in the early 1990s. Tab sales have been dwarfed by Diet Coke, though some still prefer Tab, largely because it does not have the same aftertaste that Diet Coke has.

Tab was the second diet soda, after Diet Rite Cola, though the latter was marketed as a medical product rather than a commercial beverage [1 (]. As the first widely promoted diet soda, Tab was marketed as a Coke product, but did not use the Coke name. Thus, if something were to go wrong with Tab, the Coke name itself would not be sullied.

At the height of the now long-gone days of its popularitry, there were several flavors of Tab. The first (and only surviving) flavor was simply called Tab, but there were also Tab Lemon-Lime (an analog to Diet 7-Up) and Tab Orange, among others[2 (]. In 1993, Coca-Cola released Tab Clear in the UK. It was a clear Coke that didn't taste very much like Coke. It was withdrawn after less than a year, despite acquiring a number of devotees. Tab has of late become something of a cult beverage, with heavily dedicated drinkers. This is one of the only reasons Tab is still produced; through a business perspective, it is dead sales-wise.

The urban legend that Tab stands for Totally Artificial Beverage seems to be unfounded. According to the Coca-Cola Web page, the beverage is called Tab because it helps people who keep tabs on what they consume. However, the Coca-Cola page in question is incorrect. In truth, the name was generated via an IBM computer, which processed all the different three letter and four letter combinations with one vowel. After looking through previous products, copyrights, and trademarks, they fell upon TABB, changing it to TaB after production.

Tab in popular culture

Tab was the subject of a joke in the 1985 film Back to the Future. Upon entering the cafe in 1955, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) asks for a Tab and is told that he cannot have a tab unless he orders something. He then asks for a Pepsi Free and is told that if he wants a Pepsi, he must pay for it. (Pepsi had paid a promotional fee and pressured the producers to drop the reference to Tab. They refused because the joke was too good to abandon.)

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