This Soda 'Did Its Job.' Now It's Time to Go

Coca-Cola is cutting diet drink Tab from its portfolio after nearly 60 years
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2020 11:30 AM CDT

Rarely does a company keep selling a product that barely makes a dent in sales. For decades, though, Coca-Cola kept churning out Tab, a saccharin-sweetened beverage that once ruled the diet soda category, purely for the drink's obsessive fan base, who became known as "Tabaholics"—even after market share dipped to practically zero, notes the Wall Street Journal. Now, per USA Today, it's finally "the end of an era": Coca-Cola announced Friday it will be cutting more than 250 brands from its portfolio, and Tab is among them. "We love our brands, make no mistake," Coca-Cola marketing exec Cath Coetzer tells the WSJ, but "we want to make sure that we create space for new." Those efforts include "taking the tough but important steps to identify those products that are losing relevance and therefore should exit," she adds, per USA Today.

Fox Business notes the company had planned to pare down its offerings for some time, but the coronavirus pandemic hastened things. Tab debuted in 1963 as Coca-Cola's first diet soda, and it steadily grew in popularity through the '70s and '80s. Helped along by a marketing push that included commercials with catchy jingles, it soon became the number-one selling diet soda. That ended when Coca-Cola introduced Diet Coke in '82, flavored with the more palatable aspartame sweetener. Last year, Tab represented just 0.1% of the total $22 billion in diet cola sales worldwide. Also to make their exit from Coca-Cola: Odwalla juice and smoothies, Zico coconut water, and the stevia-infused Coke Life, among others. Although Tab will be gone, it won't be forgotten. "If not for [Tab], we wouldn't have Diet Coke or Coke Zero Sugar," a Diet Coke rep says. "[Tab] did its job." (More soda stories.)

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