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After their mom died from COVID-19, her kids give a final toast with a beloved, hard-to-find token of her youth: Tab diet soda

By John Keilman, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Lifestyles

"We've gone to the top, as far as we can go," he said. "Until it's no longer around and hasn't been around for a while, we're not going to stop."

A Coca-Cola spokeswoman told the Tribune there are no plans to revive the brand.

"We understand that this has caused disappointment for Tab fans, and we want to let them know that we do appreciate their passion for the original 'pink pioneer,'" she said.

When the news of Tab's demise broke, Berger's kids joked in a group chat that the soda had gone under because their mom was no longer around to support it. But that led to a serious plan.

"We all said that we should try to find some to have one last Tab for Mom, because she'd be so upset by (the discontinuation)," Matt Berger said. "The perfect way to end Tab and to (honor) my mom's time on the earth was to toast her with a Tab."

So they set off to find some, only to discover that store shelves from Boston to Chicago to Seattle had been stripped clean. They posted pleas on social media and received commiseration and suggestions on where to look, but for days, none of the tips panned out.

Then Sarah Berger Kennie, who lives in Elmhurst, got a heads-up that the Schnucks grocery store in DeKalb might yet have a supply. She dutifully called, and the man who answered the phone checked the shelves. A single 12-pack remained.

Kennie asked him to hold it, put her 3-year-old son Carter in the car and made the hourlong drive west, half-believing the soda would be gone when she arrived. But sure enough, she walked in and found it waiting at the self-checkout line in all its pink splendor.

 

"It was an overwhelming feeling," she said. "Kind of a happy/sad-type situation."

By Tuesday night, the soda was in the hands of her siblings, who gathered around their webcams for the toast.

"Tab's jingle said it was for beautiful people," Matt Berger said from his home in Seattle. "Well, they were right. You truly were a beautiful person inside and out, and we love you and miss you very, very much."

Kennie and her husband, J.R., raised their cans and took a sip as Carter bounced around the living room. In a few minutes it was done and everyone signed off, leaving Kennie with a fizzy afterglow no caffeine can achieve.

"I know my mom would have loved that I did that for her," she said. "It's definitely a good feeling."

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