Smoothies, also known as smoothees, are blended frozen drinks made from various combinations of fruits, fruit juices, yogurt, supplemental powders and ice. They are often sold in health food stores and fitness centers as healthier alternatives to fat-filled milkshakes or sugary soft drinks, or as meal replacements when nutritional powders are added. Traditional ones sold in the United States are relatively free of dairy products, relying on fruits such as bananas to provide thickness and sweetness. Smoothies produced in other countries often contain yogurt as a thickener and honey as a natural sweetener.
There is some controversy over the origin of smoothies. A blended drink called an Orange Julius® first appeared in the 1920s, but it did not have all of the characteristics of a frozen fruit smoothie. The introduction of the Waring blender in 1939 created a consumer fascination with all things blendable, including recipes for fruit and vegetable drinks called smoothees. These were popular homemade alternatives to baby formulas and commercial fruit juices.
Modern commercial smoothies are said to have originated with a drugstore employee in California who wanted to create a healthy and delicious milkshake alternative for those who could not tolerate lactose or other dairy by-products. This former soda jerk developed a wide range of drinks, eventually creating a chain of specialty stores known as Smoothie King®. The popularity of the franchises prompted others to invest in the specialized blending equipment and produce blended drinks of their own invention.
Today, smoothies can be found in a number of outlets, including malls, health food stores, specialty ice cream shops and gymnasiums. Recipes run the gamut from berry blends to chocolate and frozen yogurt blends. Supplemental powders can also be added to enhance certain health qualities of the drinks, including weight loss, protein boosts and multivitamin supplements. Many consumers drink nutritious smoothies as either a meal replacement or a pick-me-up following a workout. They are also popular alternatives to elaborate coffee-based drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos.