In 1963, the Coca-Cola Company produced its first diet beverage and called it TaB Cola. More than half a century later, the soft drink maker has decided to retire the soda brand.
TaB was developed for consumers who wished “to keep tab on their calories” and initially marketed toward women. By the 1970s and 1980s, the zero-calorie soft drink gained peak popularity. The saccharine-sweetened diet soda has continued to be a favorite of a small yet devoted fan base in the U.S. and South Africa.
But even at the height of popularity, research showed that the lack of the “Coke” name limited sales of the beverage. By 1975, Coca-Cola was developing a new low-calorie cola and introduced Diet Coke in 1982. TaB sales have not been consistent and Coca-Cola has announced it will discontinue TaB by December 31.
Fans have taken to social media with the hashtag #savetab.
“I’m gonna miss you so bad little buddy,” tweeted Nicolai Mickelson (@brewbrewbeard) of Duluth, Minnesota.
I’m gonna miss you so bad little buddy #saveTaB #oldpic @CocaCola @CocaColaCo pic.twitter.com/DI1EZiQHvA
— Nicolai Mickelson (@brewbrewbeard) October 16, 2020
Stacy Clift (@stacystio) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania pointed out that 2020 has already been a cruel year, and this isn’t helping.
@CocaCola this is Bob’s recycle bin. He’s a #tab lover and 2020 has been cruel enough! #savetab pic.twitter.com/y75A30ewyQ
— Stacy Clift (@stacystio) October 18, 2020
“Say it isn’t so,” lamented @boydbrownjr.
Andrew Patrick Nelson (@DrAPNelson) has a (limited) backup plan.
“I have 30 cases of TaB cola in reserve, thanks to my amazing wife,” he tweeted. “…if I limit myself to one can a day (a big if), I’ll have TaB for the next year. And then…the end.”
I have 30 cases of TaB cola in reserve, thanks to my amazing wife. Worst-case scenario: if my local bottler, @SwireCC, doesn’t make more before the end of the year, and if I limit myself to one can a day (a big if), I’ll have TaB for the next year. And then…the end. #saveTaB pic.twitter.com/WjAJLRk49Z
— Andrew Patrick Nelson (@DrAPNelson) October 17, 2020
There’s even an iloveTaB.com website, which keeps track of where to find TaB for its fans. It looks like it’s getting ready to mount a campaign to bring the drink back. However, Coca-Cola shows no signs of relenting.
“We’re forever grateful to TaB for paving the way for the diets and lights category, and to the legion of TaB lovers who have embraced the brand for nearly six decades,” Kerri Kopp, group director, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola North America, said in a statement issued on the company’s website. “If not for TaB, we wouldn’t have Diet Coke or Coke Zero Sugar. TaB did its job. In order to continue to innovate and give consumers the choices they want today, we have to make decisions like this one as part of our portfolio rationalization work.”
Other U.S. products that Coca-Cola will stop producing due to underperformance include ZICO coconut water, Odwalla, Coca-Cola Life, Diet Coke Feisty Cherry, Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Delaware Punch.
Will you be stocking up on TaB, through sites like Instacart and Target, before it goes away? You may want to hurry, since your closest store may already be out, and eBay sellers are already hiking up prices for discontinued single cans and cartons of the cola.