Coca-Cola Is Killing Off TaB, the Cult-Classic Diet Soda
After nearly 60 years, TaB's supply is about to fizzle out.
2020 strikes again. On Friday, Coca-Cola announced a scale-back in inventory in order to direct its resources toward brands with the biggest growth potential. That means that by December 31, 2020, a handful of beverages in the Coca-Cola family will cease to be, including ZICO coconut water, Diet Coke Feisty Cherry, and TaB, the company's first-ever diet soda that's long been hanging on for dear life with the help of a small-but-enthusiastic group of self-proclaimed "TaBaholics."
The decision to discontinue TaB isn't so much surprising as it is monumental. Believe it or not, TaB was once, as they say, the shit. Let's take a moment to reflect.
The year was 1963. RC Cola had recently found success with its nationwide release of Diet Rite—a "healthy" diet soda—and the Coca-Cola Company wanted in on the fun. So it made its own version of Diet Rite, a sugarless fizzy drink called TaB. Courtesy of some clever marketing and questionable health guarantees, the Tasty aerated Beverage took off, promising to help people "keep tabs" on their weight. (Dietitians were still figuring things out back then. Cut them some slack.)
Through the '60s and '70s, TaB's popularity soared, so much so that for a time it had six spinoff flavors: root beer, lemon-lime, ginger ale, black cherry, strawberry, and orange. But eventually, because of TaB's success, Coca-Cola decided it needed to invest in a sugar-free version of its eponymous drink. In 1982, Diet Coke was unveiled, quickly stripping TaB of its status as the top diet soft drink in the US.
Today, the diet soft drink market is more saturated and refined, making it easy to forget that TaB ever existed. After all, its flavor is more nostalgic than impressive. But that doesn't mean it lacks value.
In Friday's release, Kerri Kopp, group director of Diet Coke for Coca-Cola North America, expressed gratitude to TaB for being a trailblazer. "If not for TaB, we wouldn’t have Diet Coke or Coke Zero Sugar. TaB did its job."
Understandably, TaB superfans, are rattled by the recent news. Longstanding tribute site I Love TaB has already seen a spike in activity, with several devotees sharing their TaB drinking patterns and fondest TaB memories on the petition page.
And also understandably, some people couldn't care less about the news. Several Twitter users are even happy to see TaB go.
Whichever side you fall on, take a moment to appreciate TaB and sip a cold one before the year's end. After all it's done for the soft drink community, you owe it that much.