Monday, March 20, 2006

SOFT DRINKS: A Grab for Tab

I'VE ALWAYS ASSOCIATED the soft drink Tab with one of my high school social studies teachers. I can't remember exactly if the teachers' lounge had Tab in the soda machine (sorry, I should say "pop machine," as I attended high school in the Midwest) but if it did, I'm sure he used a lot of quarters over the years to get his caffeinated elixir. A friend's mom, also a teacher, drank (maybe still drinks) Tab with religious fervor. Aside from those devoted Tab-fanatics, the soft drink -- which reached its height of popularity during the first or second season of "Family Ties" -- has lost its market share. (But apparently we journalists are big Tab consumers too, Ben McGrath wrote in the New Yorker earlier this year.)

That's why it surprised me that Tab has tried to make a popular comeback in the form of a revamped energy drink, masterminded by Coca Cola. Look here at Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas at a Tab promotional event during New York Fashion Week. She looks like she loves it, don't you think? As The People We Love to Hate wrote a while back:
I think Fergie is the perfect person to sponsor a soft drink that no one has drank since 1982.
I actually got to try said energy drink and well, I can't say I enjoyed any aspect of the new and improved Tab. I'm sure the Tab-fanatics out there shun the new product too. Tab-fanatics don't want to be cool. Tab drinkers are what they are, no matter how puzzling their soft drink choice might be to the non-Tab drinker. Coca Cola’s dragging of the Tab brand onto super-caffeinated bandwagon to hang out with the Red Bulls of the world just might alienate Tab's über-devoted buyers, the overworked high school teachers and journalists of the world.

SO WHY AM I WASTING BANDWIDTH ON TAB? I was picking up some essentials earlier this evening at Woodley Park's overpriced convenience store, where Tab happens to be sold. A twentysomething guy in front of me had filled his shopping basket with three six-packs of Tab and a wheel of some sort of white cheese, I think Havarti. That’s it: Dairy products and pinkish soda. Mind you, the Tab was bought just before 10 p.m., when the store closes. I'm not sure if there are rules about buying Tab considering its ridiculed status among soft drinks, but I think one guideline might be that you can only purchase Tab late at night, when few people are going to witness your purchase. I think it's a worthy theory.

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery? If you were addicted to Tab, would you be embarrassed to purchase it in view of others? If you buy Tab on a regular basis, are you proud of your purchase or do you hide it?

>> "Don't Phunk With my Tab?" [The People We Love to Hate]
>> "Tab Scare" [New Yorker]
>> "Tab Energy Branding: Will It Work?" [Business Pundit]


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