Hey Boomers, How is Your Memory These Days?

The human brain is an amazing thing. As aging boomers now know, you can walk into a room and forget why you went there, yet a flash of an image, sound or smell can trigger vivid memories decades old, and it’s yesterday once more (as the Carpenters once sang). Along those lines, it’s been Mister Boomer’s experience that fellow boomers can recall — at a moment’s notice — the lyrics from songs that they may not have heard since way back when. What’s more, the detailing of these lyrics are not dependent on whether the boomer liked the song or not.

So, in a thoroughly unscientific manner, let’s conduct an experiment to test Mister B’s hypothesis. Click the link below to view/print/download a PDF document that is Mister Boomer’s Lyrics Memory Quiz. Take the quiz and see if you agree that you can recall a bunch of these songs immediately.

Speaking of memory, we can’t forget about our fellow boomers who have been isolated — many for months, now — during these uncertain times. Mister Boomer personally knows several vulnerable boomers who have remained inside their living quarters, venturing out only for doctor visits. You may want to introduce the quiz to them over a video call as a way of increasing interaction in those on-screen visits. It can get them thinking and remembering, and maybe inject a little fun into your next internet social meeting, too.

A note about the song choices
Mister Boomer has selected the songs in this 24-question quiz partially by what has appeared randomly in his brain under his “Morning Jukebox Syndrome” affliction. That’s a circumstance where Mister B wakes up with a song playing in his head, lyrics and music included. Since first writing about it, he has heard from several other boomers who say they, too, possess this morning oddity. Otherwise, he tried to mix up the choices to span the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s to include as many boomers as possible. As a mid-generational boomer himself, Mister B has a real affinity for songs from the ’60s, as regular readers of this blog will know. Late-era boomers may have been born too late to know some of the songs from the 1950s, though they were repeatedly played as oldies for the past 50 years. No matter, it’s not a competition and won’t appear on your permanent record!

Some song lyrics will pop into your head immediately (I can name that tune in three notes!). Others may take a few minutes while your internal search engine sends out its bots to look for the file. Some only need a few words to be identifiable, while others may require a little more set-up to jog your memory. Some of these lyrics start the songs, and some lead into the chorus, while others are pivotal moments within. Each set of lyrics comes with a built-in clue by the indication of the number of words that are in the next line. Mister Boomer suggests singing the lyric to yourself (or to your video chat buddy), and you may find the next line flows effortlessly. Give yourself extra points if you know the name of the song and the band or person who recorded it. Add a thousand more if you can recall the year it was released.

We all need a little fun these days, and Mister Boomer hopes you can have some fun with this. Once you finish your quiz (Mister B recommends printing it to physically fill it out), then click on the answers link below to see how close you came. Mister B is betting you’ll remember more than you thought you might.

You’ll need a PDF Reader:
Click to view/print/download Mister Boomer’s Lyrics Memory Quiz

Click to view/print/download Answers to Mister Boomer’s Lyrics Memory Quiz

One legal note to relay: Please do not repost the downloaded PDFs or attach them in emails to friends and family. Rather, please respect Mister Boomer’s copyright and send a link to this page instead, so your recipients can experience them for themselves at the source. Thank you!

Boomers Were the First Diet Soda Generation

The news this week that Coca-Cola is retiring its Tab brand of diet soda at the end of the year came as a surprise to many boomers, who remember when it was introduced in 1963. Diet soft drinks had been around since the 1920s, in various regional brands, marketed mainly to diabetic consumers. However, the story of diet sodas is yet another product that got a major boost during the boomer years.

The boomer-era path leading up to Tab was accelerated in 1952, when Hyman Kirsch sold his No-Cal Ginger Ale locally in New York. He made the product with calcium cyclamate, an artificial sweetener. The diet drink became so popular that he branched out into eleven different flavors. Another regional product, Diet Rite Cola, was introduced in the Chicago area in 1958 by The Royal Crown Company. The sweeteners used were a mix of cyclamates and saccharin. It was sold nationally in 1962, having the distinction of being the first nationally distributed diet soda.

Other beverage companies wanted in on the action, and over the next few years, Canada Dry introduced their diet brand, as did Dr. Pepper. Pepsi entered the diet soda ring in 1963 under the name Patio, the same year as Tab hit the stores, and soon followed it with a line of flavored diet drinks. Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi were worried about diluting their core brand trademark, which is why neither called their first foray into the diet soda realm “Diet Coke” or “Diet Pepsi.” In fact, the cola flavor of Patio evolved into Diet Pepsi in 1964, but Diet Coke did not appear until 1982.

It seemed like smooth sailing for Tab and the Coca-Cola Company as it competed well in the marketplace with more than a dozen other diet soda brands. Then, in 1969, a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison concluded that a cyclamate caused cancer in laboratory rats. The experiment was repeated by Abbott Labs, the manufacturer of cyclamates, and the results were confirmed. In 1970, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of cyclamates as a sweetener. Overnight, the diet soda market collapsed as consumers fled from the products and manufacturers scrambled to find another sweetener. Coca-Cola settled on the old stand-by, saccharin, for Tab, as did several other companies. Saccharin had been around since 1897, and there had been questions about its health effects from the start. It was briefly banned for use as a sweetener in 1912, but the ban was reversed during World War 1, when it was widely used as a substitute during sugar rationing. In 1977, saccharin was implicated as causing cancer in lab rats. There was a moratorium on its sale by the FDA, but it was lifted in 1991 after further review. Meanwhile, Tab and a host of other diet sodas had to improvise. The sweetener called Aspertame was billed as the logical next step on the list of artificial sweeteners in 1974, but initial test results caused the FDA to hold off approval until 1981.

Mister Boomer’s one and only encounter with Tab came when he was dating a woman in college who drank the stuff. Visiting her house one day, and curious about this elixir, he asked for a sample. She poured him a sip into a glass, and it was the last sip of Tab he ever took. According to Mister B, it had a medicinal taste that was not cola-adjacent at all.

How about you, boomers? Did you drink Tab then? Do you drink Tab now? Will you miss it when it’s gone?