By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Column: What happened to our old American brands?
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

I have never been a Tab drinker, but it is kind of sad to see it go.

Tab was introduced in 1963, and the Coca-Cola Co. announced recently that it will discontinue making it by the end of the year.

I remember a lady who I never saw without a bottle of Tab in one hand and a Marlboro cigarette in the other. She walked around the house in those terry cloth house shoes. She remains forever etched in my mind as the picture of a Tab drinker, not the beautiful shapely models they showed in advertisements.

Tab was introduced to compete with Diet Rite, the only diet cola on the market at the time. It was owned by Royal Crown Bottling Co., which was headquartered in Columbus, Georgia.

They both contained that interesting taste of saccharin, which either caused cancer or killed laboratory rats.

I hate when products go away. It’s a passage that I don’t look forward to.

Probably the saddest thing is when products that are so American are no longer made here. They still sell Gerber baby food, but it is made overseas. 

If you look at the label of your clothes, you’ll probably find it wasn’t made here. The last maker of men’s dress shirts in the U.S. was C.F. Hathaway in Maine, where they had made shirts since 1837.

I used to wear Bass Weejun loafers. I would wear them down and send them, along with $25 to the company’s shoe factory in Wilton, Maine, where they would make them like new again. The shoes are now made somewhere else and having them refurbished has gone the way of the nickel Coke.

I remember when a television was a big piece of furniture with a wooden console cabinet. There were shops that would display the latest TV’s in the store window, and even have speakers outside where you could watch the color TV and wish that you had one.

I spent a good bit of time at home during the beginning of the pandemic. Daytime TV is now a smattering of talk shows sandwiched between commercials for lawyers.

Years ago, I used to watch “The Young and the Restless.” There aren’t as many young people on there anymore.  I picked up watching a few episodes and found it hasn’t moved too far from the same travails of the past.

I remember an aunt who watched “Love of Live.” It was the story of Vanessa Dale and her search for human dignity. I don’t know how much human dignity you can find in an hour on TV, but old Vanessa tried. The show’s cast included a young Christopher Reeve who played Ben Harper.

 If the choice was up to me, I think I’d pick soap operas over talk shows. We are now down to just four soaps remaining in production.

I hated to see some of our classic car nameplates go away. I can remember how cool I thought the Plymouth Road Runner was. There were great brands like Pontiac, Oldsmobile and even the venerable old Rambler. It’s hard to find one of those today.

Reflecting on old brands and old shows won’t bring them back, but it is fun to remember. I think I’ll pour me a Tab and reminisce.​

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the weekend Life page and on