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Was Tab For Real?

Updated on September 30, 2019
kenneth avery profile image

Kenneth is a rural citizen of Hamilton, Ala., and has begun to observe life and certain things and people helping him to write about them.

Writer's Note:

first off, the product that I am using to write about to show how sad it was when it faded away, not to endorse the product and not to encourage anyone to buy the product. This piece is about a TAB (and Coca Cola), but only used to make an editorial point. Thanks, Kenneth.

Care For a TAB?


I Will Never Forget The

moment in 1963. The day was a pure scorcher. I remember it well. I was in the third-grade and when the school bus let me off on (that) certain school day, I was very thirsty as life would have it. I walked a short-distance from our home to one of those proverbial country general stores by the name of Stidham’s Grocery. We lived near the store which was on Highway 187 north of Hamilton. In those days gone by, going to the store for a soda and riding your bike was about the only true past-times that young folks (like me) had. I did not own an air rifle, so my bike and soda pop was it.

My dad had left me with a dime in my pocket (that) morning and I was not to spend it on anything but a soda pop, which I loved. There is nothing to compare with the taste of soda pop found in bottles kept in a refrigerated ice box that sat in a prominent place in Stidham’s Grocery, because Mr. Henry Stidham was not only a shrewd grocer, but had a sharp eye for advertising. And the refrigerated ice box did its job and then some.

Walking to this community store was more of a ritual than it was a have-to situation. But either way, us young folks looked forward to that part of the day, after-school, when we would walk, or ride (those who had bikes) could congregate at Stidham’s Grocery, and hang-out. We called it loafing. Confidentially, I grew to despise that term because we did more than stand (or sit) around and shoot the breeze. We discussed football teams, girls, football scores, girls, and that was it. These were the only two subjects worth the time and breath.

TAB: Still Around


Upon Walking Into The Store

like an unconscious reflex, I walked to the ice box and reached it to find myself a Coca Cola, but came out with something called TAB. At first, I was startled. TAB? I looked at Mr. Stidham, who had just watched me get a cold soda to drink and then the new cola something or other landed in my right hand. I was speechless. I looked at this bottle again and found those ridges toward the very top, but the name, TAB, that was a new one.

“Say, Mr. Henry, just what is a TAB?” I asked very inquisitively.

“Oh, uh, ha, ha, it’s, uh, a new drink that my drink man put in there this morning,” Stidham replied while looking down at some of his store-related paperwork.

I took a second sip of the TAB and came away with the same reaction as I did with the first sip . . .a noticeable bitterness that had replaced “that” loving sweetness that we had grew to appreciate from our Coca Cola drinks, but not this time. If I am going to buy this drink, I thought to myself. I am going to have to face that bitter taste and I do not think that I can stomach this stuff.

But instead of hurting Mr. Stidham’s feelings, I kept the disappointment (about TAB) to myself and suffered to myself. But what a mistake in stocking this drink that reminded me of bitter weed. And all of you rural farming folks all know that if you have a milk cow, she will, at one time or the other, eat bitter weed and her milk will taste bitter. I witnessed this very thing because my parents bought cow’s milk from a neighbor and when they drank it, they looked at each other with sadness. Both their hard-earned money and bitter milk were only memories.

The Days Ahead Meant

that Mr. Stidham was stuck with TAB cola. No arguing about that because I had noticed in the back of his store that he had bought ten cases of that stuff. I was impressed at Mr. Stidham’s faith. Honest. But in the days ahead, we did not hear one word of complaint from Stidham at this purchasing of TAB or the lack of TAB’s popularity by his devoted-customers.

Honestly, I did try one more of this cola, but the second one as just like the first one: bitter. I did finish the drink and vowed to myself, no more! And to this day, Sept. 4, 2019, I have yet to taste another TAB and while I am sure that many people grew to love this brand of cola, it did not fare well with us rural people who shopped with Stidham’s Grocery.

I am not going to slam the Coke family of cola’s, even TAB, one of their drinks that can be compared to Ford Motor Company’s “Edsel,” the car that did not sell at all. No sweat. In years to come, collectors clamored hard and heavy for just a chance to purchase an Edsel for monetary purposes. I can add that my thinking about Ford and Edsel’s outcome would match that of Coca Cola, but the thing is, we were never told by any newscast (from 1963 forward) about a similar popularity.


I hope that I have presented my piece about TAB and their lack of being “on fire,” when the drink hit the market. But I did read that there is a group of dieting “power people” who swear by TAB and for that, I am very thankful. Still, the entire TAB situation is (was) sad. Very sad.

I know that if I were a can or bottle of TAB, I would surely hate to be on some country grocery store’s shelves collecting dust.

September 4, 2019___________________________________________________

© 2019 Kenneth Avery


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