Tang is a sweet, tangy, orange-flavored, non-carbonated soft drink mix made in the United States and named after the tangerine fruit. It was originally formulated for the General Foods Corporation and marketed in the late 1950s. It is now owned by Kraft Foods. Kraft makes both the original Tang (in a variety of flavors) as well as individually wrapped sugar-free packets (sweetened with Aspartame artificial sweetener). It provides fewer calories than juice and is vitamin-fortified.
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Basic Nutrition Information
Tang is available in 38 flavors and is sold in powdered form (packets or canisters) or in ready-to-drink form. Tang (from the plastic canister) makes approximately 8 quarts; the lid of the container also serves as a measuring cup. The approximate serving size is two tablespoons per 8 fluid ounces (oz.) of water. One serving provides 90 calories, 0 grams (g) fat, 0 g protein and 24 g carbohydrates (23 g sugars, almost 6 tsp.). Tang is most commonly served as a cold drink.
Vitamin and Mineral Fortified
One serving of Tang meets 100 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C and 10 percent of the RDA for vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 and calcium. Vitamin C is important for a strong immune system and helps to build collagen; vitamin A is essential for healthy eyesight, immune system function and growth and development. The B vitamins are necessary for proper nerve function and energy metabolism. Vitamin B6 has many functions, including protein metabolism red blood cell formation. Calcium is important for strong bones and teeth and for regulating blood pressure.
In 2007, Kraft introduced a new, lower-sugar version of Tang. Flavors include orange and wild berry. They replaced half of the sugar with artificial sweeteners. It was marketed as a lower-sugar alternative to 100-percent fruit juice. The recommended ratio for mixing is 2.5 tsp. per 8 fluid oz. water; one serving provides 40 calories, 0 g fat or protein and 9 g carbohydrates (9 g sugars, just over 2 tsp.). The lower-sugar Tang is also vitamin/mineral fortified, offering the same nutrients as the original variety.
As an Ingredient
Tang comes in other flavors, including orange strawberry, orange kiwi, grape and tropical passionfruit. There are websites that offer recipes for making fruit-flavored smoothies and alcoholic beverages using Tang. For example, Drinkmixer.com offers over a dozen recipes for beverages made with Tang, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. One such recipe is the "Tanga," made with 2 parts orange-flavored Tang drink mix, one part vodka and 5 handfuls of ice. A non-alcoholic recipe on the same site, "TEAng" is made from 1/2 oz. of Tang drink mix, 1 bag of tea and 8 oz. hot water.
Link to Weight Gain
Tang powdered drink mix is a soft drink, not a juice. Despite the fact that it is fortified with nutrients, it does not satisfy the MyPyramid recommendations for consuming a minimum of 1.5 cups of fruits (or the equivalent) daily. Even 100-percent fruit juices are high in calories, carbohydrates and sugars and should be consumed in moderation, if at all. According to an article published in "Nutrition Research Reviews" in 2008, approximately half of the 44 studies examining the association between sugar-sweetened beverage (SSD) consumption and obesity found a statistically significant association between its consumption and Body Mass Index (BMI), weight, adiposity (fatness) or weight gain in at least one subgroup.