I’ve been thinking lately about products that were ubiquitous in my 1960s and ’70s childhood – when I was growing up here at the Manse – and that now are kind of … well, if not gone, kind of forgotten. Or at least, certainly not considered quite as essential to life as they were back then.
My ruminations started when – for a reason I have since forgotten – the words “Turtle Wax” came up in a conversation I was having with Raymond. (It is very possible that the conversation was about how popular “show-and-shine” nights are in the Queensborough area. It seems like every town – Madoc, Marmora, Picton and so on – devotes one night a week through the summer to closing off the main street and hosting all manner of vintage cars, all perfectly polished up and gorgeous to look at. It’s all quite fun, if you ask me. I like to see the vintage [i.e. from my 1960s youth] muscle cars, and the huge boat-like monsters that were once considered perfect family vehicles.)
Anyway, I shall leave Turtle Wax for perhaps the next instalment in this series, and today turn my attention to: Tang!
What was up with that stuff, anyway? Did it taste as sickly-sweet bad as I remember?
Ah, but I see in perusing my good friend the internet that Tang was marketed as a healthy drink. You see, it apparently had “more vitamin C than orange juice!” And apparently it was felt that Vitamin C was in short supply among the children of North America back in the day:
(Those were the days when vitamins and other nutritional elements were kind of new and exciting, as I recall. Remember how all the breakfast cereals were marketed on TV as having “riboflavin and niacin”? [Or, earlier, “niacinamide;” I think they might have changed it because “niacinamide” sounded kind of dangerous.] Do you have any idea what “riboflavin and niacin” are, or what nutritional benefits they bring? Me neither. But we all dutifully bought those “healthy” breakfast cereals anyway, didn’t we?)
Also, Tang was cheap. Which I suspect was the real attraction for big families such as my own, without a lot of money to spend. And so convenient! My goodness, all you had to do was empty that pouch full of glittery Tang crystals into a jug, add water and stir! And yum! All that sweetness – not to mention the Vitamin C – right there in your glass! Except I think I am not wrong in suggesting that there was a bit too much sweetness involved, not to mention potential tooth decay.
In my extensive (okay, not so much; we are on a limited time budget here, people) research on Tang, I came across one snippet of information that pretty much says it all. It’s so wacky as to be almost unbelievable (and it does come from Wikipedia, after all, so maybe some cheeky monkey made it up and threw it in), yet it has the ring of midcentury-kookiness truth about it:
I mean, really. Wow. How did the man sleep at night?
Anyway, the one thing we all remember about Tang is that “the astronauts drank it!” And indeed they did (whether they liked it or not; Wikipedia reports that Buzz Aldrin of the legendary Apollo 11 moon mission once said, “Tang sucks.”) Here’s a vintage ad on the subject:
And hey, if it was good enough for the astronauts, the heroes of everybody in my youth – as I wrote here – I guess it was darn well good enough for a poor country minister’s four kids here at the Manse.
And, apparently, everybody else.