80s Food Week: Tang
My dad loved Tang and I hope it was because it was the ‘orange juice of astronauts’ or because it was ‘cheaper than orange juice’ cos man did that stuff reek in the taste department. Turns out the public thought so too from it’s humble powdered beginnings in 1959 from General Foods (a non-powdered version was out in 1957 so I don’t know what made them think powdered was going to leap off the shelves…). Tang didn’t come into icon status until the space program got off the ground in 1962 when eating experiements were conducted (you’ve seen those videos where soda turns into big blobs of ick from loss of gravity and undulates in mid-air – yeah, who wants to have to catch that to eat it. Somehow Tang made it to the list of stuff they wouldn’t have to tie down (and that ultra cool dehydrated astronaut cream- now that I’d fly around for). Tang blasted off on a Mercury Flight and some Gemini flights but it can be said that the powdery mess goes back the whole was to Kellogg’s early days.
Long story short, William A Mitchel, Tang creator, joined General Foods after it became its current incarnation from Postum Foods which was created by C. W. Post (yep the cereal guy) who was a patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium (the one run by the Kellogg’s Cereal brothers, think Road to Wellville). So the next time you call someone crazy just remember all the breakfast food crazy brought to the 80s, mmm hmm. Mitchel also gave us powdered egg whites, Pop Rocks, Jell-O and Cool Whip. So I’m not sure what he was thinking with Tang but then again we all have to mess up on the way to greatness.
80s Retro Tang Commercial courtesy yesterzone
Tang comes in liquid or powdered form though in my house it came in a veritable vat of powder stored in our pantry and mixed up in the morning before my dad went out to lay brick and stone and then again in the evening when he came back in to nod in front of the tv usually coupled with a bowl of rice soaked in milk and sugar. Eeeeeew. Back in the day it was supposedly ‘loaded’ with sugar and so replaced in packed form with our friend aspartame in 1985. And maybe that’s what happened to it because I never thought as a kid, wow that stuff is so sweet they should take out the sugar and maybe throw a little aspartame in to save my molars…
No, what I thought was, holy moly this stuff is supposed to be orange flavoured? Did an orange pass by the can or something? Get me some Kool-Aid! As it were, Tang is a popular drink and does come in many other flavours around the world:
Orange Grapefruit and Lemon
Multifruit (is that sort of like the ‘meat flavoured’ of fruit?)
Sweet Orange (finally, some real sugar)
Ponkan (what was that? Pokemon?)
Lemon and Pepper
Lemon and Mint
Orange Mango Strawberry