Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I Go Shopping

Historians get cranky about the past. Don’t even try to take me to a “historical” movie. Much of your evening will be wasted listening to me ramble about the anachronisms of the main woman character’s dress. Come to think of it, maybe that is more of a gay thing than a historian thing – Or maybe it’s a gay-historian thing. Regardless, we like representations of the past to be accurate. It’s our job and gives us a smug sense of self-importance.

That’s why I have a new reason to despise the Coca-Cola Company. They decided to screw around with one of my all-time campy retro favorites: TaB.

Younger than age 25? You probably don’t remember TaB and it’s distinctive pink can. Before Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, or even Pepsi Light, TaB promised real cola flavor with zero calories. Released in 1963 (the same year JFK took a bullet, fyi), TaB gave dieters a means to keep “tabs” on their waistline (get it? Yeah, they weren't all that clever with puns back in the day).

True, it’s distinctive flavor might cause cancer, but it comes in a pink can. PINK! Has a more gay soda ever been produced? I think not.

Finding TaB proves a challenge these days. Because of all that cancer talk, eighties’ retailers became leery of the Pink. Or so they claim it was the cancer thing. I have a suspicion the real reason behind the disappearance of TaB can be linked to the homophobia of the Reagan era.

Only the truly sad lonely addicted committed can locate this beverage throwback. Look closely in your mego-mart aisles. Hidden under a pile of dust, below the Fresca and Diet Rite, you might just catch a glimmer of the Pink. When you open a can, it’s like having a soda with Jackie O (pill-box hat is optional).

You will also make new friends with TaB. As you walk along the street, expect to be greeted by many people who say things like, “Hey, I remember that!” or "Cool, my mom used to drink that stuff" or “Do they even still make TaB?” or “You are going to get cancer, you know.” It’s all fun. As a fair warning, try not to drink more than one can per day or your kidneys start to hurt.

The other day, though, I went to the market (yes, I actually say “went to the market” in my day-to-day life) and discovered an abomination. Coca-Cola released some nasty concoction called TaB Energy Drink. I am guessing it’s a knock-off of Red Bull. It broke my brittle, abused little heart. In place of the distinctive can, it’s a new, slender slightly rosy colored can.

How could they screw with TaB? Do they really think that the people who drink TaB want an energy drink? We don't want extra caffeine. We certainly don't want Vitamin B12 (what the hell?). All we want is sweet saccharin goodness.

TaB had a retro-cool chic (that also might cause cancer). Don’t tamper with that – let us have our queer soda in peace.


Anonymous said...

I was actually amazed to find six packs of TaB at a local grocery store and bought it simply because it was TaB. Of course, I thought it actually did taste like something that would give you cancer, but I kept one can of it around just to add to my gay cred.

That can is still sitting on top of my desk. I'm convinced of its historic value.

tornwordo said...

But you forgot to mention how gross tasting Tab was. I'll never forget tasting my slender aunt's one day, gagging, and spitting it out.

I say market too, and I'm perplexed why paranthetical emphasis was placed on it. Is it odd or something? Do most people say grocery store?

Larry said...

Hello, my people gave the world Moxie. I am in no position to judge the virtues of soft drinks :)

Roger Owen Green said...

Agreed: Tab was vile tasting. Dite Rite wasn't great, either, but a splash of lemon could make it tolerable. But Tab was nasty, and I don't mean that in any other sense than potable, it was not.

But as Joe Jackson sang, "Everything will give you cancer."

Mark said...

Love the glam can, and that logo is so damn fancy, it's like, you can't not develop a product for that logo ~TaB~ Hell I'd buy a bitter gum resin if it had that can and logo.

Adam said...

The saccharin scare is over and I think its been disproved that it can cause cancer. If you need some TaB let me know because it is everywhere here in Dallas. The Coke bottling plant is right across the street from my Homo Depot, thus we get all the good stuff here.

TaB is a great mixer!

Anonymous said...

Visit ilovetab.com for a fascinating, if not a little creepy, website all about the TaB.

(p.s. love you, love your blog.)


Anonymous said...

Okay, here's the test, GayProf... do you remember the following jingle?

"TaB's got sass and, ooooh, you're gonna like it. A sassy, fresh taste you've been waiting for..."

IIRC... it's been ages since I've heard it so I remember the tune better than the lyrics. That was TaB's last markeitng hurrah, back when diet coke had just started showing up in markets.

I swear I remember reading that Coca-Cola was going to reformulate TaB and reintroduce it to the market, but them Coke's low calorie colas have been a mess of late in terms of brand identity.

Anonymous said...

Tab got yanked because of a political scandal...it had to do with two artificial sweeteners coming out at the same time. One company donated to the winning politician's campaign, the other did not. Guess who got banned?

That's as much as I remember from one of my basic Food Science courses - it's been ages, so there was probably a bit more to it than that, including the infamously sketchy "if you give twelve gallons of soda to a rat per day" cancer study.


Oso Raro said...

I heart Tab! It can be hard to find in certain markets, but here in Cold City they sell it everywhere, in smart pink 12-can packs that have a girl thrilled to be able to walk home swinging her 12-pack like she hasn't a care in the world! A girlfriend of mine actually went online on Ebay and got those old skinny glasses, the ones with the "cinched waist" that figured so prominently in commercials with the Tab logo on them. They were fabique. But I disagree with some of the commentators here: Tab is delicious, caramel flavoured with a light, vanilla undertaste. So yummy I think I'll have one RIGHT NOW!

Margo, darling said...

I'm so glad you linked to this post. Oso Raro just told me about it, because I blogged about my newfound love/addiction/obsession with Tab. (There's an empty can sitting to the right of my keyboard right this second and I'm about to make my way to the kitchen to get a new one.) Did you try the energy drink? I'm dying to know how it tastes. Obviously not dying enough to buy it, though.