The General Mills Corporation started producing a little-known, citrus-flavored drink mix called Tang in 1959. It sold pretty poorly for more than half a decade, until the company noticed that it was being used by NASA’s Gemini space program. They latched onto that as a marketing angle, and fifty years later Tang is still synonymous with outer space and astronauts. So much so that many people mistakenly believe that Tang was developed for the space program.
It didn’t take long for General Mills to cash in on the 1969 moon landing, as this ad demonstrates:
Notice the little blurb at the bottom that says “Chosen for Apollo astronauts in outer space”? Makes for a great sales pitch, except it’s not entirely true. According to both Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Tang was not on board during the Apollo 11 mission (which, let’s face it, is the only one people care about besides Apollo 13). But hey, why let facts get in the way of good marketing?
Here’s a fun ad from 1971, extolling the virtues of Tang and tying it to the yet-to-be-launched Skylab space station. I wonder how much was on board when it came down in 1979?