No, Tang was not invented in space. It was invented in 1957 by a food chemist named William A. Mitchell while he was working at General Mills.
When Tang first came to market, its sales were sluggish. It wasn’t until the 1962 Mercury space mission that the buzz about Tang began when John Glenn was seen drinking a mysterious orange drink out of a pouch. Naturally, people became curious about the drink and the misconception that Tang was associated with NASA began.
A Gemini engineer explained why Tang became popular with astronauts:
“There was a particular component of the Gemini life support-system module which produced H2O. This was a byproduct of a reoccurring chemical reaction of one of the mechanical devices on the life-support module. The astronauts would use this water to drink during their space flight. The problem was, the Astronauts did not like the taste of the water because of some of the byproducts produced. So Tang was added to make the water taste better.”
As this misconception grew, General Mills took advantage of it by creating advertisements linking Tang to astronauts and space. Tang even sponsored ABC‘s coverage of the Apollo 8 mission. I’ve included a few of those advertisements below:
To this day, Tang remains a popular beverage choice for astronauts.
- There were multiple 1960’s and1970’s advertisements showing aliens drinking Tang on the moon.
- William A. Mitchell also invented Cool Whip, Pop Rocks, quick-set Jell-O, and powdered egg whites.
- Buzz Aldrin once said, “Tang Sucks.”
- Wikipedia.org – Tang
- TodayIFoundOut.com – TANG WAS NOT INVENTED FOR THE SPACE PROGRAM
- GroovyHistory.com – Tang, The Astronauts’ Drink That NASA Didn’t Invent
Now that’s cool