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    Tab gets canned: Coca-Cola will cull its diet soda that became a 1970s icon

    Tab gets canned: Coca-cola discontinues its first-ever diet soda that became a cultural icon in the 1970s, after drink sales fizzle and company moves to streamline its beverage lineup

    • Coca-cola is discontinuing Tab, its diet soda pioneer that was introduced in 1963
    • The soft drink will disappear from stores by the end of 2020, the company said
    • Tab became a cultural icon before fizzling out after Diet Coke’s release in 1982
    • It was initially marketed to women and as a drink for those who wanted to ‘keep tabs’ on their weight 
    • It made a brief comeback in 2006 when company released a Tab energy drink
    • Coca-Cola’s ZICO coconut water and diet coke feisty cherry will also be discontinued

    Coca-Cola is bidding farewell to Tab, the company’s first-ever diet soda that became a cult favorite in the 1970s, after sales in the US fizzled. 

    The soft drink giant on Friday announced it will phase out the soda as well as other under-performing products by the end of 2020 as it works to streamline its beverage lineup amid a challenging year.

    ‘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,’ Coke group director Kerri Kopp said in a statement. 

    ‘If not for TaB, we wouldn’t have Diet Coke or Coke Zero Sugar. TaB did its job.’

    Coca-cola is discontinuing Tab, its diet soda pioneer that was first introduced in 1963. Pictured: An ad for Tab and sugar-free Tab from 1979 

    Tab became a cultural icon in the 1970s and 80s before fizzling out after the company released Diet Coke in 1982

    Tab became a cultural icon in the 1970s and 80s before fizzling out after the company released Diet Coke in 1982

    Fergie at the Tab energy drink launch party in 2006

    Kristin Chenoweth drinking Tab energy in 2006

    It made a brief comeback in 2006 when Coca-Cola released a Tab energy drink. Pictured above are Fergie and Kristin Chenoweth posing with the soft drink 

    Coca-Cola said the move is part of a wider initiative to transform into a ‘total beverage company’ which involves identifying and scrapping products that have lost relevance. 

    Among the soft drink products that have also gone flat are ZICO coconut water, Coca-Cola Life and Diet Coke Feisty Cherry, as well as certain international brands.

    Tab developed a fan following after it was introduced to the market in 1963 as the company’s first-ever diet drink.  

    The saccharine-sweetened, zero-calorie soda paved the way for other artificially-sweetened soft drinks that remain popular today. 

    It was initially marketed to women and as a drink for those who wanted to ‘keep tabs’ on their weight. 

    Tab reached cultural icon status in the 1980s, before slowly losing steam after the release of Diet Coke in 1982. 

    Coca-cola produced several Tab variations over the years including root beer and ginger-ale flavors as well as a Tab energy drink in 2006. 

    Coca-cola produced several Tab variations over the years including root beer and ginger-ale flavors

    Coca-cola produced several Tab variations over the years including root beer and ginger-ale flavors 

    Gone flat: Coca-cola will also phase out its ZICO coconut water and Diet Coke Feisty Cherry (right) as well as certain international brands

    Diet Coke feisty cherry will no longer be available after this year

    Gone flat: Coca-cola will also phase out its ZICO coconut water and Diet Coke Feisty Cherry (right) as well as certain international brands

    It maintained a small but loyal following over the last few decades, primarily among fans dubbed ‘Tabaholics’ who grew up with the beloved brand, but the soda became harder to find in stores in recent years. 

    The company said plans to streamline its beverage lineup had been in the works before the coronavirus outbreak, however supply chain challenges brought by the pandemic have accelerated those moves. 

    Chairman and CEO James Quincey called it a ‘golden opportunity’ to act on an ‘ongoing need’ and meet the company’s goal in a shorter timeframe. 

    ‘We believe it will set us up with more momentum behind stronger brands as we come out of this crisis’, Quincey said.  

    Tab became more difficult to find in stores in recent years, but maintained a small but loyal following over the last few decades, primarily among fans who grew up with the beloved brand

    Tab became more difficult to find in stores in recent years, but maintained a small but loyal following over the last few decades, primarily among fans who grew up with the beloved brand

    Earlier this year, chairman and CEO James Quincey said the pandemic has accelerated Coke’s plans to cut slow-selling ‘zombie brands’ like Odwalla juice, which it stopped producing in July.

    An ad for Tab 'clear'

    An ad for Tab ‘clear’ 

    Coke has 400 brands, more than half of which are single-country brands that make up less than 2 per cent of revenue, Quincey said. 

    Going forward, he said, Coke will prune some of those brands and invest in bigger or more promising brands like Aha sparking water.

    Coke said sales of water and sports drinks dropped 24 per cent in the second quarter, while coffee and tea sales plunged 31 per cent as the company temporarily closed its Costa coffee stores in Europe. 

    Soft drink sales fared better, falling 12 per cent globally. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar sales fell just four per cent. 

    The sales volume of Coke based on the number of unit cases declined 25 per cent in April compared to the previous year. 

    By June, that decline stood at 10 per cent. In China, case volumes actually rose for the quarter.

    Closures of movie theaters and other entertainment venues have also affected Coca-Cola’s sales – half of which come from stadiums and other places where people gather in large numbers. 

    1 COMMENT

    1. Tab has been off the shelves for months already. Was told it was due to covid. Sales might have gone up if we could of bought it. All the other diet drinks taste terrible. Maybe Pepsi will come out with a new better tasting diet.

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