“Oh, Mom,” he says with exasperation as she tousles his hair.
September 23, 2017 4:58 PM   Subscribe

 
I was 5 in 1972 and we drank this stuff. Like the astronauts! Of course they drank it because they couldn't bring orange juice to space, whereas we lived a mile from the Kroger. But no one seemed to think of that. Anyway, we got some kind of moon rover toy out of the deal.
posted by thelonius at 5:05 PM on September 23 [3 favorites]


Now I'm hungry for Space Food Sticks.
posted by humboldt32 at 5:07 PM on September 23 [15 favorites]


My mom would never buy us Tang no matter how much we asked and forced us to drink actual orange juice instead.
posted by octothorpe at 5:08 PM on September 23 [8 favorites]


I think Tang was cheaper than actual orange juice. Plus, space.
posted by allthinky at 5:10 PM on September 23 [3 favorites]


I used to eat that stuff with a spoon.

That was the only way I liked it.
posted by jamjam at 5:21 PM on September 23 [6 favorites]


One of the Momofuku cookbooks has a recipe for "Tang Toast." I know, the article isn't actually about Tang, but how else am I going to justify sharing this on MeFi?
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:22 PM on September 23 [4 favorites]


A few years ago I was feeling nostalgic and bought some Tang. I was disappointed to learn that they had changed the recipe to include artificial sweeteners and it no longer tastes like I remember.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:36 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


Tang was to orange juice what powdered milk was to milk. How was it ever popular?
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:37 PM on September 23 [2 favorites]


I think Tang was cheaper than actual orange juice. Plus, space.

This was a woman who used a manual typewriter until the late 80s. No newfangled powdered orange drink was going to drunk in her kitchen.
posted by octothorpe at 5:40 PM on September 23 [2 favorites]


Is this the Tang thread? Let me tell you about an experiment my household tried a while ago when you could actually find Mountain Dew Live Wire in 2 liter bottles at the grocery store, instead of just the 20oz size at convenience stores.

Basically, you took the amount of Tang powder that you'd normally use to mix up a gallon pitcher of Tang, but mix it with the two liters of Live Wire instead. After the third glass of the stuff, I could actually feel my eyeballs vibrating. We dubbed it "Tang-Du", deliberately using an alternate spelling for Dew to make the name look more like some lost Martial Art because the resulting sugar crash would drop you harder than a flying roundhouse kick to the skull.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:47 PM on September 23 [11 favorites]


A spoonful of Tang stirred into a big cup of tea on a cold night is surprisingly tasty, and I still do that sometimes. Especially when I have a cold. It's nostalgic and comforting.
posted by ctmf at 6:10 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


How was it ever popular?

If you grew up, as I did, sitting cross-legged on the floor of the living room, watching Walter Cronkite explain that the countdown was at T-minus 5 minutes and holding; drawing spaceships on my school notebooks; totally jazzed at getting a telescope so I could study the Moon, you'd understand. Like allthinky said, the secret ingredient was Space!
posted by SPrintF at 6:14 PM on September 23 [25 favorites]


How was it ever popular?
posted by Bee'sWing at 8:37 PM on September 23 [+] [!]

This is the same nation that brought you purple ketchup. Powdered orange juice really isn't as weird as it gets.
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:20 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


This was exactly the moment I lost faith in science as a kid and did not pursue it in college. "Scientists" telling me to drink Tang when I know for a fact (science!) that it is horrible for you and horrible for your teeth. God. At about that time I also had a nutritionist tell me I was going to die because I ate peanut butter on whole wheat toast with a Granny Smith apple for breakfast and I know for a fact that she fed her child baloney & American cheese on Wonderbread for lunch. That's just two stories that turned me off "science". And women in science especially.

I mean, if I had my life to live over I wish I would have studied science in college. And just confront all that nonsense. But I didn't have enough life experience at the time.

But I did sprinkle Tang on fresh fallen snow and my mom made Russian tea - which is some kind of mix of Tang, tea, autumn spices - put it in the crockpot. Delicious.
posted by cda at 6:33 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


I have never had Tang and now I'm feeling like a huge gen-x failure. So let's say I pick some up on next week's shopping. What have you got for me?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:45 PM on September 23


I ate a Tang donut from the Voodoo Donuts location in Eugene, Oregon, this past weekend. It was good. I always loved Tang.
posted by limeonaire at 6:58 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


I drank a ton of Tang as a kid in the early 70s. We never had actual orange juice in the house. So, when I finally had real pulpy orange juice it felt so weird I just couldn't drink it. I still don't care for orange juice. Other juices that have some texture are fine, but Tang is firmly lodged in my lizard brain as orange juice. We also had a lot of Space Food Sticks [slyt]. Space man, it was awesome! I had a couple of the Tang moon rover toys and played with them til they were completely destroyed. I think my dad still had some 40 year-old Tang jars hanging around the basement full of random screws and parts and stuff until just a couple of years ago.
posted by Gotanda at 7:01 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


We didn't have Tang-Brand Tang, but we had white label powdered orange drink from the white label store. And we pretended our crayons were space food sticks and mimed eating them. I guess we were preparing for steerage on the first budget flight to the Moon.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:19 PM on September 23 [12 favorites]


It's interesting that they got a real professor-who-is-also-a-mom for the commercial instead of just hiring an actress. I feel like this was a pretty common 70s/80s advertising gimmick? Now it's mostly relegated to the late-night infomercial "*NOT AN ACTOR" thing.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:24 PM on September 23 [4 favorites]


I remember a beverage we drank in the mornings while camping called "Russian tea" (in retrospect, I apologize to all Russians and anyone who appreciates actual Russian foods and beverages) that was equal parts Tang and Lipton instant tea, made with hot water. On a cold morning after sleeping on what felt like all the rocks while worrying about noises from outside the tent, 12-year-old me found it quite tasty.
posted by Lexica at 7:58 PM on September 23 [6 favorites]


I was just about to mention Tang Tea, or Russian Tea. It was my mom's favorite. I remember that no matter how hard or much I shook the Mason jar of dry Tang/Lipton mix, the neon orange and brown granules would never fully mix. There were always swirls, and I thought that was so beautiful.
posted by Elly Vortex at 8:02 PM on September 23 [10 favorites]


There's a perfect mixture of (old) Tang that is a better fake orange flavor than Orange Tic Tacs. Not stronger, just better.
posted by rhizome at 8:41 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


My last name is Tang (mistransliteration of Deng) and when I give my name over the phone, I say "Tang like the juice." It gets a laugh, but not as much lately what with all the millennials manning the phone lines now.
posted by growli at 8:50 PM on September 23 [9 favorites]


I drank Tang on a few occasions in the late '70s (in other people's homes, my mother wasn't stocking it). Past 1985, Tang was used to clean grimy dishwashers.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:59 PM on September 23


Like allthinky said, the secret ingredient was Space!

Absolutely, yet Space Dots didn't fare as well for the Shuttle.
Mental Floss
Wikipedia


I've blundered: Dippin'Dots are not Space Dots...sorry
posted by lazycomputerkids at 9:07 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


Tang was part of my growing up, along with Ovaltine and Kool-Aid, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes and Sugar Pops & Sugar Smacks (later renamed Corn Pops & Honey Smacks) for breakfast (with Pop Tarts arriving later), Campbell's Soup (mostly Tomato and Chicken Noodle), Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (don't think I didn't notice its color similarity to Tang), Chef Boy-Ar-Dee Canned Ravioli and Jello for dessert. As I mentioned before, my mother was NOT a good cook, so the packaged and processed foods were the flavors I grew up (and out) with going from a skinny kid in kindergarten to obese just when the Atkins Diet was introduced. Still, of my childhood food memories, Tang was one of the better ones.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:01 PM on September 23 [2 favorites]


let's have a shout-out to the grape flavor, too
posted by thelonius at 12:55 AM on September 24 [2 favorites]


Y'all keep talking about Tang, and I'm impressed that Dr. Matthews had such a distinguished science career that her Wikipedia page doesn't even mention the Tang ads.
posted by Miss Cellania at 4:13 AM on September 24 [7 favorites]


I hated Tang. Couldn't stand the sight nor smell of it. I blame Tang for my life long aversion to any orangey drink.
posted by james33 at 4:37 AM on September 24 [1 favorite]


William Mitchell invented Tang in 1959. He also invented Cool Whip, Pop Rocks, quick-setting Jell-O and powdered egg whites.
I didn't care for Tang. It probably didn't help that I never liked orange juice much either.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:05 AM on September 24 [1 favorite]


Tang was to orange juice what powdered milk was to milk. How was it ever popular?

zomg this brought back repressed memories of the parents serving powdered milk sometimes. Why? I think Dad perhaps bought it on a survivalist kick ( I was sad that he didn't live to see the Y2K crisis; he would have been in ecstasy over it) and then Mom insisted we had to use it up.
posted by thelonius at 6:32 AM on September 24 [2 favorites]


I remember watching this commercial although I was too young to understand the significance of the mom being a scientist. To young me it just made sense that a scientist would have her kids drink Tang because, you know, Space. Of course, back then you could have gotten me to eat dirt simply by telling me astronauts did it.
posted by tommasz at 6:32 AM on September 24 [3 favorites]


We only had Tang on camping trips so it was a big treat and made us feel like we were a tiny bit like astronauts.

As others mentioned already, Russian Tea was a big thing, too. It looks like people still make it.
posted by lagomorphius at 7:45 AM on September 24 [1 favorite]


I was just about to mention Tang Tea, or Russian Tea. It was my mom's favorite. I remember that no matter how hard or much I shook the Mason jar of dry Tang/Lipton mix, the neon orange and brown granules would never fully mix. There were always swirls, and I thought that was so beautiful.

There was some sort of 70s synergy going on with that thing and this thing.
posted by lagomorphius at 7:49 AM on September 24 [1 favorite]


"zomg this brought back repressed memories of the parents serving powdered milk sometimes. Why?"

I don't know about anyone else, but we drank (mixed 50% with regular milk) it because we were poor.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:38 AM on September 24 [6 favorites]


"zomg this brought back repressed memories of the parents serving powdered milk sometimes. Why?"

I don't know about anyone else, but we drank (mixed 50% with regular milk) it because we were poor.


For us it was another camping thing, and unlike Tang, we hated powdered milk.

In contradiction to everything I'm reading, we only drank Tang when we went camping because it was too expensive to have it all the time, or so my parents said. Maybe it was just a trick to make camping more exciting.
posted by lagomorphius at 11:42 AM on September 24 [2 favorites]


let's have a shout-out to the grape flavor, too

how about no
posted by rhizome at 11:47 AM on September 24 [5 favorites]


This is the same revolution that brought us Instant Breakfast, upon which I attempted to live as a teenager. I hated eating food in the morning, so I was pleased to find that I could basically just drink chocolate milk and it would somehow be okay with my mom. Then I'd wonder why I was dizzy at 11:15.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:32 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


I still love carnation instant breakfast. I seem to recall learning that it's a waste product from making yogurt or something and really they should be paying us to TAKE it, but I don't care. I like it.
posted by ctmf at 5:26 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


My mother would not buy Tang for us. I did not buy Tang for my kids. Real juice, or sodas, even Kool-Aid if desperately broke. One place I rented had raspberry and black-berry bushes. I juiced those and had some accidentally ferment, which started me on the path of wine, mead and kvas making. Mr. Roquette grew up drinking Tang. I suspect I watched many more launches.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:21 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


There's a protein bar that tastes almost exactly like Carnation Breakfast Sticks. I think it's the Oh Yeah! brand, because the Quest bars have too much erithrytol to map the flavor accurately.

That first bite was a surreal experience - who knew that 70s extruded milk sticks were such a persistent memory?
posted by catlet at 6:40 AM on September 25


We are still reeling from the loss of Carnation Breakfast Bars.
posted by thelonius at 8:07 AM on September 25


> How was it ever popular?

You say that in the past tense like it isn't still for sale at my Costco.

> I remember a beverage we drank in the mornings while camping called "Russian tea" (in retrospect, I apologize to all Russians and anyone who appreciates actual Russian foods and beverages) that was equal parts Tang and Lipton instant tea, made with hot water

*adds "Russian Tea" to troop camping cookbook*
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:21 AM on September 25


Yeah, both my parents grew up on powdered milk because of the surplus food distribution program. Their fathers had gotten used to it during the war, so it was NBD to them. We didn't drink much milk as kids (because I had a boatload of food sensitivities I mostly grew out of) so it made more sense to keep a box of powder that wouldn't spoil for the odd occasion it was wanted.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:22 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


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