The beverage always will be connected to the golden era of midcentury space exploration, but NASA actually did not invent Tang.
Tang debuted in 1957 as a vitamin C-packed breakfast drink. Its selling point was that the powdered mix was shelf-stable, and it was promoted as a healthier and more convenient alternative to fresh orange juice. (And while it certainly may be more convenient than juicing oranges to order every morning, the first two items on Tang’s ingredient list are sugar and fructose.)
Not only that, but home cooks around the world have been showing their ingenuity by using Tang in dishes that go far beyond a simple stir-it-up breakfast drink.
Whether you’re jonesing for a blast from the past or looking for something new to experiment with, grab a canister of Tang and make these fun and slightly retro recipes.
Tang Creamsicle pie
This nostalgic dessert has graced the tables of many a church potluck and community picnic since the 1960s, and its retro charm endures. The sweet throwback is one of those no-bake recipes familiar to anyone who grew up reading recipes off the back of a box.
The formula here is simple: Beat together Tang mix, cream cheese, condensed milk and whipped topping until fluffy, then chill in a graham cracker crust. Spoon on even more whipped topping to take it over the top.
Frothy Tang orange drink
Want to make this drink into a cocktail? Just blend in 2 tablespoons white rum or orange-flavored vodka per serving.
Takeout-style orange chicken
Tang ice pops
If there is one technological innovation that makes families’ lives better every summer, it’s the humble yet life-changing ice pop mold, which lets us create any flavor of fruity treats imaginable.
Stir up a pitcher of Tang and pour into any style of mold that fits your fancy. Traditional bomb pop or double stick-style molds, silicone squeeze molds, or push-up pop molds will all do the trick.
If you’d like to add fresh fruit like chopped peaches, sliced strawberries or whole blueberries to your pops, fill the molds with fruit and then pour the liquid in. For a creamier treat, blend Tang with vanilla or coconut Greek yogurt before pouring.
Tang and lemon ice cream
If you love the flavor of orange sherbet but the consistency of soft-serve custard, this might be your ideal dessert.
Instead, this citrusy sweet tea mix has become an American standard. The proportions change from recipe to recipe, but standard ingredients include instant tea powder, lemonade powder, Tang, and frequently cinnamon, cloves and/or nutmeg for extra spice.
Make a jar of homemade tea blend to keep in your pantry for chilly days.
There’s even Tang beer
As these recipes prove, Tang is an enduringly popular ingredient in kitchens around the world. Even after all these years, Tang remains, to quote another vintage ad, “for spacemen and earth families.”
Casey Barber is a food writer, illustrator and photographer; the author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats”; and editor of the website Good. Food. Stories.