The Coca-Cola Company announced today that it will be retiring some of its “underperforming products” on 31 December 2020, including Tab. The iconic sugar-free and caffeine-free drink of the 80s and early 90s was the predecessor of many now highly prevalent diet fizzy drinks.

In a statement released on the company website, Kerri Kopp, group director of Diet Coke, Coca-Cola North America said, “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.”

Kopp finished with a solemn ode to the drink: “If not for Tab, we wouldn’t have Diet Coke or Coke Zero Sugar.”

The origins of Tab

Tab first went on sale in 1963, marketed to women as a “diet” drink with artificial sweeteners. It was intended to help consumers “keep tabs” on their diet, although official documents cite the name as an acronym for “tasty aerated beverage”.

Tab was popular with South African consumers, but after its peak in the 1980s, its sales slowed. With newer, (arguably) tastier formulations such as Coke Light and Coke Zero now available, most consumers have traded up for a more modern recipe and taste.

Despite many other sugar-free drinks on the market, there remains a small but devoted fan base for Tab.