Tang = Tangerine?

Tang is famous for its part in astronauts’ menus. I’ve known about it since the early 60s. But recently I was writing a shopping list, and abbreviated “Tangerines” as “Tang” (light bulb over head). So was Tang originally an abbreviation for tangerines, or is that a coincidence?

No, no, some guy in camp one day had oranges but no juicer, so he cut them in half, put them over the ball and set the hitch down over them to crush the juice out. “Tang” is from trailer hitch.

It’s a marketing-created name with as much meaning and components source as you care to believe.

I’d put “tangy” higher on the influence scale than “tangerine,” FWIW.

Wasn’t the version made in some city in India supposed to be particularly amazing?

Yeah. I think it’s just supposed to describe the flavor. Tangerines weren’t ubiquitous, like they are now, IIRC, until maybe the 1990s, which is to say, you couldn’t walk into just any grocery store and reliably expect to find them. I would wager that in 1957, when Tang was introduced to the US market (it wasn’t invented for space flights, just used by them as a source of vitamin C, and Tang jumped on this as a marketing ploy), an awful lot of Americans had never eaten a tangerine, and if shown one would think it was some kind of small, oddly shaped orange. I remember the first time I was given a tangerine-- I was about four, and it was something slightly exotic. That would have been 1971.

BTW, tangerines are named for Tangiers, and I think the name is not at all etymologically related to the word “tang” to describe flavors; I think that word comes from “tongue,” because people used to believe that snakes that could sting did so with their forked tongues. So, a flavor that has some bite, or sting to it is “tangy.”

Cool to know! I would have guessed they were cognates of some sort, but you’re quite right!

(I made the same mistake with “sage” – the herb and the master of wisdom and lore – they sound the same, but arrived there by very different paths.)

More than one astronaut said it was tangy… shit.

I grew up in the 50s, and tangerines weren’t at all uncommon. But they may have been regional or seasonal.

Maybe that’s what I’m remembering. Or maybe they were just expensive, and so my mother considered them “exotic.”

I was born in 1967, and I remember when oranges were seasonal. Pretty much the only fruits we got year-round when I was a child were apples and bananas, and maybe grapes. And I had a mother who thought I needed to eat fresh fruit every day.

I’m interested in finding out about that. I’ve used Tang in Northern Wisconsin to draw some of the crap out of the local water. Iron in the water creates little flakes of iron oxide that get captured in the undissolved sugar sludge at the bottom of the glass. That would work in India, too.