The Fizz of the 80s

A sip or a taste of something can be a great little time machine. In fact, just seeing the packaging of a favorite food or a drink from childhood can make me thirsty for the 80s. Picture that giant can of Hi-C Ecto Cooler, makes me think of trading baseball cards, roller-skating, endless bike riding and being a kid.

But it’s the following sodas that send me back to the mall, the convenience store, or to “laying out” on the beach with my gang of girls. These were the soft drinks of 80s teen-dom.


The queen bee of diet soda, all hail Tab! Talk about packaging that can send you back in time, who doesn’t remember this hot pink can with the big T, small old-fashioned a and capital B? And, who can resist a tagline like, “Tab’s Got Sass!” Who couldn’t use just a little more sass?



My mom always had a 6-pack of Tab in the fridge. While I haven’t had one in years, I know it’s still around. From what I remember, the taste was kind of lemony and very fizzy. It’s been around since the early ‘60s and is called Tab because it helps you keep “tabs” on your weight. Clever. Other diet colas came along and Tab went out of style, but it is still available and likely much loved by one of the older gals in your life. And, bless them, they have kept that same packaging design all these years. What was once out of style is now extremely cool and retro.


And, finally, you may remember in the commercials how the glass of Tab cinches in at the waist to show you how skinny your waist will be after drinking loads of Tab. Here’s a 1982 commercial starring Elle McPherson to remind you.

New Coke

Why mess with the perfection that is/was Coca-Cola? On April 23, 1985, Coca-Cola did just that with the launch of a revamped (they made it sweeter among other things) formula called New Coke. New Coke went down as one of the worst ideas in the world of sugary-bubbly drinks ever. Coke may be it, but New Coke, not so much.


In fact, New Coke was such a flop and so many Coke-lovers’ reactions were so negative, they brought back the old formula within months (July 11th of that same year), renaming it Coca-Cola Classic. To add to the confusion after Coke Classic made a comeback New Coke stuck around and was officially renamed Coke II – further proof that the sequel usually isn’t as good as the original. In 2002, it was discontinued altogether. The moral of the story is, don’t mess with a good thing that people seem to really enjoy. Coke is it!

Original New York Seltzer

So, what if I wanted a carbonated beverage that came in fruity flavors? Like Strawberry, Black Cherry, Peach and Berry? Aww, heck, throw in a Cola flavor too – and Root Beer because I want to drink a clear Cola and Root Beer!

80s Soda - New York Seltzer


80s Soda - New York Seltzer

Original New York Seltzer came on the market in 1981 and boy, do these little bottles take me back. I would peel off the labels that were made out of Styrofoam or something, so it kept it rounded shape and wear them like cuff bracelets. Alas, the brand is no longer around; it made it through the early ‘90s and is now hanging out in soft drink-heaven with New Coke.

I mean Coke II.


Whatever – you can’t get it anymore.

So savor that sip of whatever you’re drinking right now – because that fizz probably won’t last forever.

Author: Lori Ferraro

Lori is a writer and actor living in Portland, OR. Her website, Drawn to the 80s, is where her 5 year old draws the greatest music hits of the 1980s. She is a blogger for The Huffington Post and her own blog, Once Upon a Product, is where she writes about important things like beauty products, music, her obsession with Mick Jagger and of course...the 80s.

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  1. Oh my gosh. New York Seltzer was the greatest thing ever! Remember how the coolers at the local gas station would have row upon row dedicated to the many flavors?

    Every once in a while I spend far too much time online trying to find a glimmer of hope that “NYS” has made a comeback… so far no luck other than seeing a few claims Big Lots has carried some limited modern variation from time to time (although I can not verify these claims).

    Yes, I am happy with all the “throwback” pops (that’s what we call soda in Minnesota) and the fact that pure sugar versions from Mexico are readily available just about anywhere here but “NYS” is still sorely missed.

    One final thing- there was also a weird pop called “Rondo” that was around in the early 80s. I remember the commercials called it “The Thirst Crusher” and featured an appropriate “can-crushing arm” and the end of the ad. Although it was probably meant to be the manly “anti-Tab” alternative, I think the ad campaign was most effective on pre-teen boys like myself. And yes, we all crushed our cans after the last gulp.

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  2. New Coke….what a disaster.

    I remember being sorta broken hearted when they did that. Even then, I had already formed bonds to my favorite things of the 80’s. For a while, I was adrift in soda purgatory. I dabbled with Pepsi, but as soon as I began to lose all hope, Coca Cola returned, the REAL Coca Cola. The world made sense again.

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  3. I had a game with new york seltzer where you tried to peel the label into one long curled up styrafoam string. The longer the better, whole label was the goal. I once saw them at Big Lots circa mid 2000s and bought them but never since. I also used to see Clearly Canadian there from time to time sadly its been awhile since I’ve seen any retro sodas there.

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