Disadvantages of Drinking Tang Orange Drink Instead of Juice
Tang, Kraft Foods' citrus-flavored breakfast drink, has been a part of many Americans' breakfast since its release in 1959. According to the NASA "Spinoff" Web site, Tang flew with the Gemini astronauts into space in 1965. Immediately after Gemini's launch, Kraft launched the marketing campaign that revolutionized Tang's image. They marketed Tang as the breakfast beverage astronauts drink. Space-age charisma aside, however, Tang is probably not your best choice as a nutritious breakfast beverage.
Only the Color is Orange
Tang may be orange in color, but it is definitely not orange juice. According to its label, Tang contains the following ingredients: Sugar, Fructose, Citric Acid, Calcium Phosphate, Contains Less than 2% of Orange Juice Solids, Natural Flavor, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Vitamin E Acetate, Niacinamide, Vitamin B6, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Beta Carotene, Maltodextrin, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, and Neotame (Sweeteners) Guar and Xanthan Gums (Provide Body) Artificial Color, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, BHA (to Help Protect Flavor)
Tang contains less than 2% orange juice solids. If a serving of Tang is 8 ounces, 2% of a glass of Tang is .16 ounce, or less than a teaspoon. Most of Tang's flavor comes not from orange juice but from "natural and artificial flavor." Eric Schlosser in his book Fast Food Nation, points out something that may not be obvious: "Natural and artificial flavors are now manufactured at the same chemical plants, places that few people would associate with Mother Nature. Calling any of these flavors “natural” requires a flexible attitude toward the English language and a fair amount of irony."
In other words, Tang is not orange juice with all health the benefits of natural citrus. Tang is an drink that is engineered to taste like orange.
It's All About the Sugar
The first ingredient in Tang is sugar. The second ingredient in Tang is fructose, in other words, "sugar." Farther down the ingredient list are Maltodextrin, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, and Neotame, all artificial sweeteners. Tang contains 24 grams of sugar in an 8 oz serving. That's almost six teaspoons of sugar. Though six teaspoons might not seem like much, it counts up if you drink Tang each morning for breakfast. At 15 calories per teaspoon, you are drinking an extra 85 "empty" calories each morning, or 31,025 extra calories in a year. That's enough to put eight extra pounds on you each year.
By contrast, a medium orange contains 62 calories, a third fewer than a small glass of Tang, and with it you get vitamins and minerals Tang lacks.
Engineered to be Orange
Tang contains two artificial colors, yellow #5 and yellow #6. Yellow #5, also called Tartrazine, has been associated with both breathing problems and hyperactivity. Yellow #6, sometimes called "sunset yellow," also has a link to hyperactivity. In short, the yellow dye in Tang may make it look like orange juice, but its effects can be very different from orange juice.
In fact, despite the full-color pictures of fruit on the label, Tang is not fruit juice. It is a largely artificial product. Having an orange with your breakfast instead would serve your body better.