Nine Things About Tab Clear

By Amos Staff

1.) So, Tab Clear existed.

2.) Tab Clear was introduced in 1992 and discontinued in 1994. It was the basic diet soda formula for Tab but without the caramel color. It was one of Coca-Cola’s responses to the popularity of New-Age beverages, Clearly Canadian (and New York Seltzer), and the ”clear soda” craze most prominently represented by Crystal Pepsi (also in 1992).

3.) Tab was the first diet soda created by Coca-Cola. It was a response to the popularity of Diet Rite, RC Cola’s pioneering low-calorie cola. Coca-Cola followed Tab (1963*) with Diet Coke in 1982 and Coca-Cola No Sugar and Coke Zero in the 21st century.

4.) Tab primarily has been known for its bright pink logo and/or can, its caffeine content, and its devotion to saccharine as its sweetener of choice. While Tab Clear was a variant in the ’90s, Coca-Cola also introduced a caffeine-free version (not clear or crystal) in the ’80s (that didn’t last at all) and six different ”flavored” Tabs in the 1970s: Strawberry, Orange, Lemon-Lime, Black Cherry, Root Beer, and Ginger Ale. (Since some of these flavors directly competed with other Coca-Cola brands and flavors, they were rapidly discontinued.)

5.) While Tab Clear didn’t last long, Original Tab (saccharine and caffeine inclusive) lasted from 1963 until 2020, when it was discontinued. Legend has it you can still find Tab in Las Vegas and Atlanta. But these legends remain unconfirmed.

6.) Weirdly, Tab Clear was not the first colorless cola developed by Coca-Cola. In 1946, “White Coke” was sold in the Soviet Union, allegedly at the request of Marshal Georgy Zhukov. The legend is that Zhukov wanted the cola to resemble vodka in photographs. White Coke was born and died in 1946 and was sold only in the USSR. The bottles featured white caps with a red star. White Coke did not prevent a black market for American goods or, later, a perestroika for more democratic government.

7.) The 1990s ”Clear/Crystal” soda craze that Tab was a part of was spoofed by Saturday Night Live in 1993:

8.) Although the primary sweetener of Tab (clear and not), saccharin/saccharine was first distributed in 1879 as a sweetener and weight loss aid, saccharine first became widespread in usage during sugar shortages in World War I. In the early 1980s, a since-discredited study (bladder cancer in lab rats), caused news anchors to lose their ever-loving minds nightly about cancer, saccharine, and (seriously) Tab. Nutrasweet became the most popular artificial sweetener, not coincidentally, at about the same time.

9.) The clear cola craze has not yet abated: in 2018 and 2019, two different versions of Coca-Cola Clear were launched in Asia.

If anyone knows a good dupe for Tab, we’d love to hear it, because it was one hell of a diet soda pop.

*also the year that the Astro-Pop was invented.

Leave a Reply