I’ve made no secret of my love for all things retro, but I really took things a step farther over the weekend when I bought Tang from the grocery store. I’d been craving it for some time now, which is really weird, because I don’t actually remember drinking it as a kid. Or if I did, it was on rare occasions, and always at a friend’s house. My parents never bought me a Big Wheel or Cookie Crisp cereal. Do you think they’d let me have Tang?!
“But astronauts drink it!” I declared. I was born in 1969, the same year that man first walked on the moon. Astronauts were a great negotiating tool back in the 1970s. Unfortunately this strategy backfired: my mom simply countered with, “When you’re an astronaut, you can drink all the Tang you want!” I’m convinced parents all read from the same playbook. And that’s probably why I’m craving Tang now. I never really got to experience it as a child save for the rare special occasion, so it holds a place of reverence in my heart.
When I mentioned to my wife that I wanted to pick up some Tang on our next visit to the grocery store, her response was, “Tang? They still make that?!”
I informed her that Tang is an American classic and most definitely still available. Sure enough, there it was, sandwiched between canisters of powdered Country Time Lemonade and Kool-Aid. I hesitated for a split second, briefly pondering the science behind powdered drink mixes, but decided some things are better left as mysteries and added the product to our cart.
Here’s a fun aside: the man who created Tang also invented Pop Rocks, Cool Whip, and instant Jell-O. It became associated with the space program because Tang was selected as a menu item during John Glenn’s 1962 Mercury orbit, and later used on Gemini missions. Its endorsement by NASA launched it into the stratosphere in terms of popularity. Kids nationwide thought it was out of this world. Puns intended.
Appropriately enough, Sunday afternoon was pretty warm, so I made myself a pitcher of Tang and poured it over a tall glass of ice. Even though I’m not the type to normally go for processed foods, I found the drink refreshing and delicious. When I handed my glass to Audrey and offered her a taste, her first words were, “What kind of alcohol is in there?”
Sheesh. My own kid thinks I’m a lush. What kind of reputation have I made for myself?
“None,” I said. “It’s delicious! Astronauts drink it when they go to space.”
That earned me a quizzical, bored so what? look. In the year 2014, astronauts don’t carry the same cachet as they did in 1974, apparently. She took a sip, grimaced, and declared it “too sweet.”
Undeterred by my daughter’s lack of enthusiasm, I decided to share my new old discovery with the world. I took a selfie (first one ever!) with a glass of Tang as a prop and posted it to Instagram and Facebook. More than one person commented, “Tang? They still make that?!” Another asked what I mixed it with. Water! Sheesh!! My own friends think I’m a lush. What kind of reputation have I made for myself?
Another friend asked if it was “still as crappy as it was in the 70s.” Umm, if by crappy you mean delicious, then yes, Heidi. Yes, it is!
Apparently, I’m alone in my love for Tang. Even Buzz Aldrin told an interviewer last year, “Tang sucks.” Whatever! The dude was only the second man to walk on the moon. Whoop-de-doo. Second place is simply the top loser. I’ll bet Neil Armstrong liked Tang. You know, the guy who set foot on the lunar surface first. A/K/A the winner.
So, I’m curious. What do you think of Tang? Please take the poll below! (Mr. Aldrin, “buzz” off. This is closed to you).