Let’s take it back just a moment on this one. How much do you know about Tab Soda? When you think about the different colas from times past, you probably think of things like Tab, Surge, RC Cola, and more.
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Tab Soda is certainly a classic and while it’s hard to find these days it’s still on the market. Who knows how long that will last because it has been discontinued. Now, you will only find the rare leftover products that simply haven’t sold since the discontinuation was announced.
Let’s take a closer look.
Tab Soda is definitely unique. When you look for it on the market, you will see it as TaB most likely. That’s how it’s styled for marketing and sales. In this article, we’re just going to call it Tab or Tab Soda but we wanted to make sure you have all of the details.
Tab was created to be a diet cola. It’s made by Coca-Cola and first came out in 1963. This soda lived a long and valuable life before Coca-Cola decided to let it go in 2020. That’s nearly 60 years of solid production. There are many stories to tell.
We all know about Diet Coke and think of it as the classic diet Cola. But the truth is that Tab was actually Coca-Cola’s first diet soda produced. It debuted long before Diet Coke. This soda came out in 1963 and was really popular the first couple of decades. Sales went down after that but it continued to be valuable enough to keep around.
As time went on, they even produced some additional flavors of Tab. The flavors were all diet sodas but you could get things like root beer or even fruity options. No matter which one you choose, it was always caffeine free. Most of the drinks released later in the 80s and 90s were also clear.
What happened is Coca-Cola produced Diet Coke in 1982. From there, things started to go downhill for Tab. It didn’t fizzle out quite yet but many people switched to drinking Diet Coke instead of Tab soda.
Tab was known to use saccharin as their sweetener. They were around when the big to-do about this sweetener required warning labels. And they were still around when that requirement was overturned later on.
While Diet Coke certainly took a lot away from Tab soda, they remained the top choice for diet soda for some time, even in the debut year of Diet Coke. This surprised a lot of people. The thing is that people who loved Tab remained loyal to Tab no matter what else came out.
Tab even had an energy drink line for a little bit but it was slightly different than the soda was. Unfortunately, Tab soda met its demise in 2020, after many years of success. The followers who were loyal to the soda continue to fight for its return.
Tab soda was created after the soda Diet Rite was so successful. It certainly provided Diet Rite with a steady competitor and they eventually took first place in the market.
When Was Tab Invented?
Tab first came out in 1963. It was produced as a competitor to Diet Rite soda. Before the introduction of Tab soda, Diet Rite was the only diet soda with no sugar in it. Tab definitely gave them a run for their money and eventually took first place. They became the top choice for diet soda and even remained there for a short time when Diet Coke was introduced.
They saw a lot of different options and ideas throughout the years. Tab sweetened their soda with saccharin and never changed this ingredient. There is some controversy over whether or not this is an ok sweetener. The FDA rescinded their requirements to put warning labels on the ingredient but the debate still remains.
Tab soda was discontinued in 2020, after many years of grandeur.
Who Owns Tab?
The Coca-Cola Company created Tab and all of its other counterparts, including a Tab energy drink that was short-lived. Tab always remained under Coca-Cola ownership and never changed hands. Interestingly enough, Tab primarily remained the same from the beginning of its production until the day they let it go.
You will find comment boards and a massive following of people who continue to call for the return of Tab. Of course, it appears that the soda simply ran its course. From what we could find, Coca-Cola doesn’t intend to bring Tab back. You never know though.
Even before discontinuation was announced, the production was becoming far more limited. Not all plants were able to produce it.
Regardless of Tab ending, it leaves behind a legacy. It was Tab that provided inspiration for things like Coke Zero and Diet Coke. It simply paved the way and it will always be remembered for that.
Tab was famous for containing ONE calorie. Many of the newer sodas have zero calories but one single calorie certainly isn’t a bad deal either. It eventually changed slightly and had no calories then.
Tab will forever be remembered as Coca-Cola’s first diet soda and the first competitor of Diet Rite.
Tab Soda Logo
Tab Soda Flavors
Tab did come out with several different flavors over the years. Most of them were short-lived and some of them stayed around for a bit. The traditional cola flavor always hung out, despite other flavor changes and creations.
Here are a few of the flavors created and produced through the years.
- Tab Original (Cola)
- Ginger Ale
- Root Beer
- Black Cherry
- Tab Clear (free of caramel dye)
- Tab Xtra (only in Norway, Sweden, and Finland)
- Tab Energy
All of the Tab flavor options were completely free of sugar. Many of them were even caffeine-free as well. They simply used sweetener, typically saccharin, for the sweet flavors that they created. They actually tried NutraSweet for a short time as well but fans lodged complaints so that change was short-lived.
There was also a variant that was released in South Africa as well some surrounding areas. This was Tab original but it was made just slightly different with less carbonation and no caffeine in it. The recipe was adjusted just slightly in those areas.
Tab Soda Ingredients
- Carbonated Water
- Caramel Color
- Natural Flavors
- Phosphoric Acid
- Calcium Saccharin
- Potassium Benzoate (to Protect Taste)
Tab Soda Nutrition
|Serving Size:||250 ml||% Daily Value*|
|Amount Per Serving|
|Calories from Fat||0|
- Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Pictures of Tab Soda
Tab Soda Commercials
Buying Tab Soda
You might still be able to find a few straggling cases of Tab out there. However, Tab was discontinued in October. Production may have continued for a very short time until the official end date but shortly after that it was no longer being made anywhere.
This means that if you do find cases, you are finding some of the very last cases available on the market. Be sure to treat them with care as at some point you won’t be able to find Tab at all. There are still many fans out there who are begging for Tab to return.
Coca-Cola credits Tab with the history and inspiration of things like Diet Coke and Coke Zero. It had a very creditworthy history. This is not the first popular product to run its course. Fans are always sad when their favorite thing ceases to be. For now, we can appreciate the legacy of Tab and be grateful for the many years and the many new ideas that it did inspire.
You can sign a petition to bring back Tab Soda by following this link.
Krysta Wood is a freelance writer that loves to bring a story to life. She is a candy fanatic that likes to try different types of candy and learn more about their histories.
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