TaB was the first major diet cola, and the first sugar-free cola The Coca-Cola Company developed.
TaB debuted in April 1963.
Read a fantastic article from Atlanta Magazine on “Project Alpha,” which details the development of TaB (from the formula, package design, and naming).
“The year Diet Coke was introduced, TaB had a 4.3 percent share of the soft drink market. As Diet Coke went up, TaB headed south. In 1984 TaB tumbled to 1.8 percent of the market.” (Marketing Warfare, Al Ries)
TaB stands for “totally artificial beverage.” Fact or Myth??
Over the years there have been many versions of our favorite drink… “TaB flavors, such as ginger ale and root beer, were an idea that made sense when TaB was Coca-Cola’s diet-drink entry and they wanted to compete in other flavor categories. The concept failed, in part because substantial segments felt that TaB had a disagreeable taste; it was basically perceived as low-quality by large parts of the market.” (Managing Brand Equity, David A Aaker)
Here is a short list:
Original TaB – Sweetened with saccharin and cyclamates (1963)
TaB(ver 2.0) – When cyclamates were banned, a version of TaB was developed that was sweetened with saccharin and a small amount of sugar.
Caffeine-free TaB – (1983)
Root Beer TaB
Black Cherry TaB
TaB with Calcium
TaB – The current version available, sweetened with a saccharin and aspartame (Nutra-Sweet) blend (1984)
TaB Clear – During the “clear” everything phase of the early ninetines, Coca-Cola tinkered with the formula to create this nightmare. Was discontinued shortly thereafter. (circa 1992)
Here are some quotes from Coke’s website…
Keeping tabs on a favorite…
TaB was The Coca-Cola Company’s first sugar-free drink, introduced in 1963, when 28 percent of Americans had begun watching their weight. Its name was a play on the notion of people keeping “tabs” on their weight.
Although sales of TaB were surpassed by the introduction of diet CokeÂ®, the brand still has fiercely loyal fans who have been known to travel hundreds of miles to find their favorite drink. (link)
This sugar free drink, launched in 1963, was one of the first ways consumers cold keep “tabs” on their diet. TaB was the Coca-Cola Company’s first sugar free drink and se the stage for the wave of diet colas that followed. Today, the pink can is still a distinctive statement. TaB has achieved pop-culture status and has the reputation of being somewhat hard to find. If your grocery carries TaB, drink up and enjoy your good fortune! (link)
(“Project Alpha”Atlanta Magazine, 1963 – by Bill Diehl)
The pensive gentleman below is taste-testing a new low-calorie soft drink, which is being introduced to the world this month. In a special report for Atlanta Magazine, here is the behind-the-scenes story of how â€œTaBâ€� was born.
On a Monday morning in February, one act of an unusual industrial drama was plated out in the sedate boardroom on the fourth floor of The Coca Cola Company building on North Avenue. Eight men were present in the walnut-paneled room. Two were members of the omnipotent Packaging Committee, which says â€œyeaâ€� or â€œnayâ€� to everything Coca-Cola Bottlers use, from bottle caps to vending machines. The others were members of a special team, which, for several months, had been working, in complete secrecy on the design of a new soft drink bottle. The meeting lasted only a few minutes. The committee nodded â€œyea.â€� The bottle became a production item.