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Do You Remember, Tang, the Groovy Drink Mix of the American Astronauts?

Culture | May 22, 2018

American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (born Edwin E. Aldrin Jr) set up an American flag on the surface of the moon during NASA's Apollo 11 lunar mission, July 16, 1969. (Photo by NASA/Getty Images)

Do you remember drinking Tang for breakfast? Actually, after it caught on, it wasn’t just for breakfast! Back in the day, Tang was an up and coming alternative to the traditional (and healthier) orange juice. In my house, orange juice had an abundance of pulp because that is what my father liked. I drank it every morning, but it wasn’t my favorite. When Tang came along, I thought I might have died and gone to Heaven!

The General Foods Corporation was responsible for launching the powdered drink mix, Tang. It was originally marketed to the United States in the late 1950’s. It was billed as a powdered, orange flavored, breakfast drink. The fact that Tang is now owned by the Kraft Company has no bearing on its American history. Tang was popular all over the world!

Tang ended up being the official drink of the astronauts in the 70’s!

The Tang creators had originally labored for a little over 2 years with research to bring this up and coming phenomenon to consumers. While the target buyer was the “average Joe,” the company failed to hit their mark. At the time, housewives were the main marketing target demographic. To make a long story short… they weren’t “buying” it!

Tang took off after being known for being the staple on the NASA Gemini space flights in 1965.

When the general public didn’t buy into the initial Tang marketing campaign, the company decided to take another approach. The drink mix soared in sales, however, after being billed as being the drink of the astronaut!

GEMINI 4 was known for the epic and best-known introduction of Tang!


Don’t worry, though! Orange wasn’t the only flavor Tang came in!

Tang was originally associated with the Apollo 16 and 17 space flights. These were options of the cutting edge lunar model and roving space vehicle as well as a full-color map of the moon. This in, and of itself, was a critical and impressive teaching tool for students in every walk of life.

The 1970’s drink of American Astronauts, Tang, was available in both powdered and convenient, ready to drink versions.

Although orange was the original flavor of Tang, it was not necessarily the most popular, overall. As a child, I was so happy when my mother brought the tasty “breakfast” drink home! Later I learned that there was a grape version. My dreams had come true!

Grape flavored Tang was, quite possibly, a dream come true!

Other flavors that Tang offered, besides orange, include wild berry, tangerine strawberry, orange kiwi, orange strawberry, tropical passion fruit, watermelon wallop, and orange pineapple. As a child, grape flavored Tang was my all-time favorite!

The powdered drink of the astronauts was also known to be very healthy, at the time!

Back in the day, Tang was supposed to have been the breakfast drink that EVERY mom trusted. That was the company slogan. Never mind that there were no documented health benefits and that is was full of sugar.

Loving mothers just wanted to serve their families Tang… because it was endorsed by NASA!

Housewives and mothers, everywhere, wanted to take care of their families in the best way they knew how. When Tang breakfast drink came out, women realized that they could be all that, AND, a box of chocolate… only it was orange flavored!

To quote the Kraft Foods Web site, “Tang is a great example of Kraft’s ‘best of global, best of local’ philosophy at work. We use our global scale to create efficiencies like advertising and to fast adapt the brand to new markets, while incorporating appropriate local preferences in each country.” To date, the Tang brand is the most popular, powdered drink brand in Kraft’s Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific geographic markets.

At this time, Tang is purchased and enjoyed in over 60 countries. Flavor varieties are tailored to the consumers in the various regions around the world.

The inventor of Tang, William A. Mitchell, also invented Pop Rocks!

That, my friends, is a different story altogether.

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.