Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You're Gonna Drink Tang In A Gemini Dream

Ah, Tang. The artificial-orange drink powder that the astronauts (supposedly) packed in their lunch bags when they went to the moon in 1969. Also the drink that my mother sent me off to college with eleven years later. I guess going to college was tantamount to lunar travel in her mind. Minus the attractive silver space suit, of course. Instead, I had an L.L. Bean down vest and a woolly sweater and jeans.

Here are ten things you might not know about Tang (with bonus recipe links, yum!):

1. You can clean your dishwasher by running Tang through it. Yes, it's true - there's enough citric acid in Tang to make a dishwasher sparkle (just think what it's doing to your insides...).

2. It was invented by William A. Mitchell in 1957 and first sold in 1959. Mitchell further contributed to the culinary zeitgeist by inventing Pop Rocks, Cool Whip and quick-set Jell-O. A junk food hero!

3. You can make a lovely dessert out of it - here's Miss Suzi's recipe for Tang Pie.

4. Tang has been forever linked to the US space program, ever since 1965's Gemini mission. The Gemini astronauts used it to improve the taste of the water. This became the big advertising image, the mighty space explorers fortifying themselves with space-age ersatz-orange deliciousness - check out the ad at the top of the post!

5. However, the Apollo 11 astronauts did not swig Tang when they went to the moon in July 1969. They took a grapefruit-orange drink mix, according to Wikipedia. I don't know what that was called.

6. Tang is still being made but it now comes in 38 flavor including Strawberry, Lime and Mango. And you can get a sugar-free (although not chemcial-free) version, too. Healthy!

7. Several years ago, methadone clinics began mixing Tang into the methadone to discourage recovering addicts from abusing the former, reasoning that they would not inject themselves with Tang. This was still in the Health Canada guidelines as late as 1994, see page 11 here. Methadone clinics became known as Tang wagons.

8. The name Tang comes from "tangerine." But why not "orange"? I guess Orang sounds a little too much like orangutan.

9. Speaking of which: an A-Rang-O-Tang is a drink made with rum, coconut and banana schnapps (among other things). Or you can mix Tang with Jim Beam and make a Moon Beam.

10. The powdered-beverage purists can drink Tang plain, of course. Tang may be served hot or cold, or in a smoothie. Most people drink it cold. Russian Tea is made of instant tea mix, Tang and spices. This used to be a popular hostess gift.

Here's what I did with all the Tang (early 1980s, orange and grape) my mother sent to school with me: I gave it to my college roommate. She liked it pretty well.

I think.

Do you have any Tang recipes or memories? Did anyone else's mom buy this? I guess someone had to. The 1971 Grape Tang coupon is from Jason Liebig at Flickr. And the Gemini ad is from AdFreak. And in honor of the Tang/Gemini connection, a little song from the Moody Blues from 1981 - not inspired by Tang or the space program. It did inspire my title though. There's the connection (I knew there was one in there somewhere):


WillOaks Studio said...

Ahh yes, tang! I was the oldest kid so got to mix up a batch for all my bros & sisters breakfast because I knew how to measure things!! Ha ha, thanks for the memory.

Lidian said...

WillOaks - Ah, the privilege of being the eldest! You get to do all the tricky measuring...

Don said...

I used to love that stuff. Something wore me out on it though. Probably drinking too much...Ahh, the Moody Blues. I loved them way back when.

Lidian said...

Don - I was tired of Tang even before I got to the dorm. Very, very tired. Still like the Moody Blues though.

Shinade aka Jackie said...

Wow do I ever remember Tang? my mother thought it was the answer for everything.

I am wondering now after reading about cleaning your dishwasher if that is why I developed an ulcer in my 20's!!

of course, by then, I, like you, had long since tired of it and quit drinking it.

I love the Mood Blues too!! Great pick!!:-)

Chef Eureka said...

I haven't had tang in years!! :)

I remember a giant tin of it in the pantry that my mom would make for us... heheh, don't think I ever had tang pie. Not sure it'd be my kind of pie :)

Lidian said...

Shinade - My mom too. Loved Tang. I do not know why!

Chef Eureka - I, too, will not be making any Tang pies anytime soon. Meaning ever.

vanilla said...

No. Strictly a Kool-Aid guy.

Jeff Herman-Smith said...

If any stores in your area still sell the grape version, please contact me - thanks!