First developed in 1962, TaB® has been a major contender in the diet soda market for over 50 years. First bottled in 1963 in Springfield, Massachusetts, TaB® is the first low-calorie product of The Coca-Cola Company after an intense, yearlong effort to overcome a number of technological and engineering obstacles. In 1962, diet beverages accounted for less than 3 percent of all soft drinks sold, but that same year, internal studies conducted by Coke showed that up to 28 percent of consumers were interested in a low-calorie product. “Project Alpha,” manned by engineers, technicians, and marketing experts, and led by Dr. Cliff Shillinglaw created the delicious-tasting diet cola in record time.
The marketing team, having researched consumer preference, narrowed the product name choice to a three to six-letter word, but then had to figure out what that word would be. Tapering the list from over 300,000 possibilities down to 600, the legal team then took over, cutting the list again to two dozen. TaB® was chosen from that list because it was distinctive and easy to remember, and projected the desired image.
As for the logo, it was initially decided that the name would be in all uppercase block letters, but Robert Dickens, the designer, felt that exaggerating the “T” would make the name more memorable, so the “A” was lowercased to fit the new design, but was given a swirl and a downward pointing arrow to keep it from being lost. The textured surface and stylized snowflakes on the initial glass bottles were designed to help the bottle stand out against other designs.
By 1964, TaB® was available in more than 90 percent of the country, and was the number one diet drink on the market by the middle of the decade…a position maintained until Diet Coke® was introduced in 1982.
As we say farewell to this much-loved member of our UNITED portfolio, we hope that dedicated TaB® consumers will find a new favorite in our vast portfolio of low and no-calorie beverages.