TAB Cola

By Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall (Rated G)

This week we read that TAB Cola will no longer be manufactured. This comes as a surprise to most of us, who didn’t know it still existed.

TAB Cola, a product of the Coca-Cola company, dates back to ye olden days of the IBM Selectric Typewriter, Sears, and Chesterfield cigarettes at 10 cents a pack.

The first and maybe the only TAB Cola I drank was at Dr. Moore’s office after getting a shot for something or other when I was a barefoot lad. Yes, I was an anti-vaxxer, but I was only ten years old. Either Coca-Cola or a distributor had given Dr. Moore, of happy memory, a case or two, promoting TAB as a health drink because it contained artificial sweeteners instead of sugar.

In those days, when Studebakers still roamed the earth, TAB came in a glass bottle with sharp serrations so you wouldn’t drop it. The design of its last container clearly dates from the late 1960s or early 1970s, a bright purplish-red can with ‘way-cool happenin’ lettering. The container itself would be worth keeping as an artifact of its time.

Another surprise is that Coca-Cola’s awful Fresca drink still exists. That is inexplicable, because I don’t know that anyone ever finished a Fresca. For a time I was stationed at the last outpost (kinda like that Ronald Reagan movie, only with boats instead of horses and swamp instead of desert) on this side of the Cambodian border.

Because we were at the end of the supply line we received only whatever had not been taken off the boat by the previous posts. They got the Coca-Cola and we got the Fresca.

We threw the Fresca over the wire to the children, who promptly threw it back with some language that was probably rude.

We often shared our food with them, but their reaction to the ham-and-lima-beans in C-rations was pretty much the same. But they weren’t doing without; it was ironic to see a ten-year-old smoking Marlboros when the smokers among us couldn’t get any cigarettes at all. Some Navy storekeeper back down the river probably paid for a new car to be waiting for him stateside with his profits from the black market.

But the Fresca was always safe.

CNN (yes, yes, I know…) says that Coca-Cola offers hundreds of different brands of belly-wash, and most of them just don’t sell well. They have to go.

Maybe the last cases of TAB will be delivered in AMC Pacers or Ford Pintos.

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