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Oct 17

‘If not for Tab, we wouldn’t have Diet Coke’: Tab, the iconic diet soda, will be gone by end of the year – USA TODAY

Coca-Cola's first diet soda, TaB, debuted in 1963. USA TODAY

It's the end of an era.

Tab, the diet soda of choice for a generation of calorie counters, will disappear by the end of the year, one of several drinks Coca-Cola is dropping to focus on beverages with more popularity or potential.

ZICO coconut water and Coca-Cola's Odwalla line of products will also be making an exit in the U.S.

"The objective is to drive impact and growth,'' Cath Coetzer, the Coca-Cola company's global head of innovation and marketing operations, said in a statement. It's about "deciding which of our brands are most deserving of our investments and resources, and also taking the tough but important steps to identify those products that are losing relevance and therefore should exit the portfolio.''

A Diet drink for a generation

Tab debuted in 1963 as Coca-Cola's first diet soda. Sweetened with saccharine, and promising zero calories, it was initially targeted to women. Though it was eventually surpassed by Diet Coke, it held onto a loyal band of fans for nearly six decades.

If not for Tab, we wouldnt have Diet Coke or Coke Zero Sugar. Tabdid its job," Kerri Kopp, group director for Diet Coke, Coca-Cola North America, said in the statement.

Coca-Cola and other beverage companies are constantly creating and canceling products to accommodate consumers' shifting tastes, and in recent years they've been introducing more water products and sports drinks asconsumers demand healthier options and soda sales slip.

A 1979 advertisement for Tab.(Photo: The Coca-Cola Company)

The coronavirus pandemic, which has hobbled supply chains, has accelerated Coca-Cola's efforts to cull its beverage offerings.

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We believe it will set us up with more momentum behind stronger brands as we come out of this crisis,Chairman and CEO James Quincey said in the statement.

Coca-Cola says the coronavirus has disrupted its supply chain and artificial sweeteners from China could be in shorter supply. Wochit

Last year,Coca-Cola debuted its own brand of sparkling water, AHA, to compete with popular brands like LaCroix. And the company says that ending Odwalla beverages allows it to focus on AHA and other brands like Minute Maid and Topo Chico Hard Seltzer.

Coca-Cola is also in cost-cutting mode. In August, the company said it plans to offer buyouts to roughly 4,000 employees, or 37% of its workforce in North America, as part of a larger effort to make the organization more nimble.

Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones

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'If not for Tab, we wouldn't have Diet Coke': Tab, the iconic diet soda, will be gone by end of the year - USA TODAY

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