- Coca-Cola will stop making Tabs by the end of 2020, the drinking giant announced on Friday.
- The news sent a wave of nostalgia and shock to Tab lovers, from kids in the ’70s with fond memories of drinks to superfans desperate to hunt for drinks.
- “It’s the end of an era, the death of a dream!” author Molly Jong-Fast told Business Insider.
- Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.
The long battle of tab lovers to keep their fridges full of diet soda is over.
On Friday, Coca-Cola announced it was retiring to Tab, along with other “poor performance”; drinks such as Odwalla and Diet Coke Feisty Cherry.
Tab is set to officially retire on December 31, 2020, more than five decades later, according to Coca-Cola. The decision is part of Coca-Cola’s strategy of killing “zombie” brands in an effort to focus on fewer brands with stronger sales.
Read more: Zico, Coke’s leading coconut water brand, is the latest to be axed as food and beverage companies cut down on unprofitable products during the pandemic
The announcement ended a wave of nostalgia and anxiety among Tab lovers.
“It’s the end of an era, the death of a dream!” author Molly Jong-Fast told Business Insider.
Jong-Fast said that he has not tasted Tab for a long time. However, as a person born in 1978, the news immediately sparked his nostalgia – even though he remembered the drink as a tasting like “very sweet and slightly thin paint,” while mentioning that he had no experience in depleted of paint.
—Molly Jong-Fast🏡 (@MollyJongFast) October 16, 2020
Jong-Fast is not the only person nostalgic about losing the Tab. Timothy Dooner, 41, told Business Insider that discussing the drink evokes memories of childhood cooking.
“This is a sad day for us Tab drinkers,” said Dooner, host of a FreightWaves podcast covering the supply chain and truck news.
Dooner admits that, now, he rarely drinks Tab – which he described as carbonated Sweet and Low with added caramel coloring. However, he said he remains closer to the drink.
“I very rarely do this. So, when it happens that I see it in the wild … I will buy six packages, at least once a year,” Dooner said.
Others refuse to leave purchases on the Tab by chance.
Natalie Kueneman has spent decades hunting for Tab. Kueneman is in a unique position to assist others in their pursuit of diet soda, as the founder of the website ILoveTab.com, which he started in 1994. On Friday morning, he said his inbox was flooded with emails from to broken Tab lovers.
“People feel differently about Tab than any other drink – very loving,” Kueneman told Business Insider.
Those addicted to tabs have been struggling to get their hands on soda for years
Kueneman is among the Tab super-fans who exclusively drink diet cola. The tab is sweetened with saccharin, giving the drink its unique and polarizing taste. Eliminated the fear that saccharin could cause cancer led to a backlash against Tab in ’80 that the drink was never completely missed.
“People are like, it’s annoying, pink, it’s big,” Kueneman said. “If anyone can taste it and they don’t want to put a big show about how big it is – they want it.”
The tab has been missing from grocery shelves for years, as various Coca-Cola bottlers have stopped making drinks. A bottler’s decision usually sets a wave of emails on ILoveTab.com from consumers desperate to find a drink. (Kueneman has an arrangement with his local store to keep Tab’s stock in a backroom, even if they don’t put it on their shelves.)
As the presence of the Tab sank and flowed in recent years, it suddenly dried up with the coronavirus pandemic and aluminum deficiency in the first year.
“You’ll still get it in March,” Kueneman said. “Then, at the beginning of April, I started getting some more messages [about shortages.] It has not stopped since then. ”
Some Tab lovers believe it may be time to release the drink. Dooner said he was considering giving soda. Losing a Tab can be a catalyst for him to run away and cut off all softdrinks.
“Diet soda is very bad for you so maybe it’s good,” Jong-Fast said.
Kueneman said he was not surprised by Coca-Cola’s decision to kill Tab, especially since the company has not marketed the drink much in more than two decades. But, he is not ready to give up the fight. The founder of ILoveTab.com plans to contact other Tab enthusiasts and tell them to contact Coca-Cola, bottlers, and distributors.
Kueneman Tab personal stock is now shrinking to a single can. He was planning on drinking his last Tab on election night. Now, Kueneman is not sure what he will do with his last can.
“The only way to save the Tab is to change the next generation,” Kueneman said. “I think Coke has missed a great opportunity to sell Tab in a really fun way over the years. I don’t know why they didn’t do it.”