TaB is the cola that time forgot. And yes, it is capitalized as TaB. It was the first diet soda, introduced by the goodly people at Coca-Cola in 1963, and was marketed to ladies as a way to keep “TaBs on your health!” It was also a mindsticker. Whatever that means.
The soda enjoyed robust sales and popularity until Diet Coke was introduced in 1982. TaB was dealt what should have been a killing blow in the mid-80’s when the saccharine scare hit America. People were convinced that artificial sweeteners would murder you in your sleep. TaB soldiered on. Nothing could kill it. TaB was now the cola that would not die. For whatever reason, vanity, sales, deal with Satan, Coca-Cola did not stop producing TaB. Today, it exists in its quaint 1960’s packaging with most people unaware of its existence. Coca-Cola stopped marketing TaB in the 80’s but they still produce it. That seems like a poor business model: not advertising your product, but whatever.
Because of all of this, TaB was left a mark on literature. Here are some famous first drafts that had mentioned that grail of colas, but for some reason (flow, structure, not getting an endorsement from the Coca-Cola company) were cut.
Easter Parade–Richard Yates.
“Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life because they had never tasted TaB, and looking back it always seemed that the trouble began with their parents’ divorce.”
Catcher in the Rye–J.D. Salinger
“I have a feeling that you’re riding for some kind of terrible, terrible fall. . . . The whole arrangement’s designed for men who, at some time or other in their lives, were looking for something their own environment couldn’t supply them with. . . . So they gave up looking. Fortunately, I had found TaB.”
Goodbye Columbus–Philip Roth
“His breath smelled of hair oil (like TaB) and his hair of breath (smelling like TaB) and when he spoke, spittle cobwebbed the corners of his mouth (reminding me of TaB). God, I needed a cool refreshing TaB!”
Gravity’s Rainbow–Thomas Pynchon
“Goddamn! Slothrop thought to himself as he looked in the mirror. I am one fat sunnofabitch! I should start keeping TaBs on my health! Then I’ll be a real mindsticker and that mean ol’ rocket and dominatrix won’t make me eat shit!”
“Ode on a Grecian TaB–” John Keats
“TaB is truth, TaB beauty,–that is all
Ye know on earth—TaB!
It’s all you really need to know, you guys! TaB!”
“The Road Not Taken–“Robert Frost”
“Two colas diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not drink both
And be one drinker, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as brown,
And having perhaps the better taste
Because it was hairy tasting and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two colas diverged in a diner, and I—
I took the one less tasted by,
And that has made all the difference”