First Impressions: Real Strawberry Banana Fruit Smoothie from McDonald’s

The Golden Arches have been rolling out and testing a number of new menu items as of late (including the new McBistro Chicken sandwich in the Baltimore and Albuquerque markets) with the chain’s latest offering in the McCafe line further blurring the line between fast food and fast casual. I’m of course talking about McDonald’s McCafe Real Fruit Smoothies, which the company announced the debut of during last month’s Olympic Games.  So far the Smoothies are apparently still in the testing phase, with the two flavors – Strawberry Banana and Wild Berry – scheduled to hit the national scene by the summer. I stopped by my local Micky D’s the other day and ordered a Strawberry Banana, which retails at $1.99 for a small (12 ounces).

When I arrived at my McDonald’s I asked what was in the smoothies, and was told it was a fruit base blended with low-fat yogurt and ice. Touted as containing “real fruit,” the smoothies are made to order for the customer, and mine was delivered in a timely and pleasant enough manner. The smoothie had a good consistency that was neither too watery nor too icy, although I wouldn’t go so far as to label it creamy. Based on the consistency and available nutritional data, I’d guess that the ratio of “fruit blend” to yogurt favors the fruit blend, although I found the texture no different from most run-of-the-mill smoothies you’d order at your local juicer.

While the texture and consistency of the product revealed no flaws, I was somewhat disappointed in the taste. It wasn’t that the smoothie didn’t taste “real” or that it tasted “artificial” (a common complaint I have never truly understood), but rather that it tasted muted. To a certain degree it tasted watered down, and lacked the initial “punch” of sweetness that the glorious first slurp of a smoothie should bring. The other thing I disliked was that the smoothie lacked a strong banana presence, and likewise didn’t include any tartness associated with ripe strawberries. I received a berry flavor, to be sure, but the banana element seemed overshadowed and largely ignored. Also, the smoothie lacked the large strawberry specs you’d expect to find in a freshly blended smoothie made with whole strawberries or bananas, and reveals the critical flaw of the product: the inability to capture the “fresh” taste with a pre-blended base.

I did some poking around and discovered the ingredients for this product, and once I saw them I was not surprised with my initial impressions. No doubt many of you will be happy to learn that this product does not contain HFCS (which, in my humble opinion, would have helped to deliver a sweeter and more pleasing flavor) but instead relies on sugar and concentrated apple juice as the main sweeteners outside of a strawberry and banana puree. That they come after “water” on the ingredient list speaks volumes to the “watered down” nature which I talked about. While not the best tasting smoothie I have ever had, I don’t want to give the impression that it is bad. In all, I thought this smoothie average, and given the cost and fairly light nutritional barrage (only 210 calories for a small) would easily pair it with a small fries on a warm summer day. But would I trek the mile down from campus to give it a regular go in a cold Utah spring? Eh, probably not, but I encourage you to at least give it a try and decide for yourself.

Pros: Very affordable at only $1.99 for a small. Got it free with a coupon. Good consistency which is is neither too icy nor watery. Not brain-chillingly cold. Healthy option at only 210 calories and 0.5 grams of fat.

Cons: Lacks distinctive banana flavor in “Strawberry Banana.” Tastes too much like watered down apple juice with hints of berry. Sweetness is muted and watered down. Not very creamy and doesn’t have slight tart taste which indicates freshness.

Taste: 5.50/10
Value: 8.00/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 8.50/10
Price: 1.99 (Free with Coupon)

Overall GrubGrade: 6.25 (Average)

More Info: McDonalds.com
Nutrition Facts:
McDonald's Real Fruit Smoothie (Strawberry Banana)
Serving Size: Small (12 onces)
Calories: 210
Calories from Fat: 5
Total Fat: 0.5 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 35 mg
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 44 g
Protein: 2 g
Calcium: 70 mg

36 comments on “First Impressions: Real Strawberry Banana Fruit Smoothie from McDonald’s

  1. skippymom says:

    I am a bit confused – since when are ripe strawberries to be considered tart? When ours are fully ripe they are absolutely sweet as can be without the addition of sugar.

    Where are you eating fresh strawberries GG? Otherwise it looks [and sounds] exactly like the one we make at home and is quite yummy. Perhaps a bit more light pink as opposed to darker pink [from fresh strawberries] but pretty close. :)

    210 calories isn’t too shabby either. Thanks for the review.

  2. sophia says:

    McD’s has smoothies?!! It’s sad how now that I have no car, McD is so inaccessible and foreign to me now.
    If they cut down on the sugar and concentrate, it’ll probably taste much fresher and better. What’s the point of that when bananas are so sweet already?

  3. maxchain says:

    Y’know, you’ve piqued my curiosity! In any smoothie I usually get with banana, the banana completely overpowers the other ingredients. I’ll totally drop two bucks this summer to see if this solution is… well, whatever McDonald’s has done.

  4. Adam Bomb says:

    Hmmm, tempting. But I think I’ll stick with the little smoothie shop a few blocks from my house. It’s a lot more personal and there are many more varieties.

  5. rightclue says:

    Well it is McDonald’s. Cannot expect top quality, made fresh products consistently.

    I used to work at a McDonald’s when I was a teenager and unless you came at the exact right time they made a new batch of fries or cooked up a new batch of burgers, you’d probably got something cold and lifeless.

    Did you know that the McCafe coffee is just leftover regular hot coffee that has gone cold? They dump it all into a vat and serve that as the iced coffee or cold McCafes.

    Moreover, ever notice how you would sometimes get a cold, stale burger?

    During the rush hours, the cooking staff inexplicably makes an excess of burgers. I am not sure if they simply cannot catch up with the frantic pace and get confused or if they make extras in case there is a mistake (not likely), but at times there are so many extra McChickens, cheeseburgers, and occassionally a larger burger lying around on the conveyor belt with no one to eat it.

    The restaurant won’t even allow the employees to eat that! THey make us throw it out! Talk about waste of food!

    Of course, after 11pm, I hoard as much leftovers as I can and haul in on home…. mostly the meats, fruit/walnut salads, and chicken pieces.

    • Michelle says:

      I work at McDonalds now and I can tell you if you are practicing McDonalds standards at the restaurant you worked in, the McCafe coffee is not old coffe,it is brewed fresh as the cup is ordered and if you are inside you can order and watch it being brewed directly in your cup. The iced coffee is in fact double brewed coffee which is brewed a pot at a time as their regular coffee but is also fresh and has a timer as to how long it can be kept like all McDonalds products before it has to be thrown out.

    • krstn418 says:

      First of all, you’re an idiot. That is absolutely not how the McCafe coffee is made at all. I am wondering i f you ever really worked at McDonald’s because of the conveyor belt statement you made. Again there is no such thing. Get your facts straight before you leave another comment.

  6. Adam says:

    @Skippy, I think even fresh strawberries have a “tart” taste even if we don’t consider them tart. This didn’t have either the sweetness of a fresh berry, nor that unique flavor.
    @Sophia, I wish these were SWEETER. Plain old sugar isn’t very sweet, which is why if you’re not going to have freshly blended, overipe or freeze dried fruit on hand, I think you NEED to compliment with HFCS. Sorry, health freaks, but it’s a taste thing.
    @rightclue, I worked in FF for a time, so I understand your point. However, I never have a problem with my local Micky D’s. But then again I live in a rural portion of Utah, not the big city.

    I’m actually wondering now if a little nutmeg wouldn’t help bring out the banana flavor a bit more?

  7. Tracy says:

    I’m curious if this means that since they have strawberries in the store again they will start selling strawberry sundaes again. I miss the strawberry sundaes!

  8. Rosa says:

    I got one of these a few months ago and watched them put a fresh banana in. It was a pleasant surprise and better than I expected for McDonald’s. Good to know that it’s HFCS-free!

    • Michelle says:

      I don’t know why they would put a fresh banana in it because it is a pouch all ready pre- blended fruit that the machine just has to blend with the ice and yogurt if you want yogurt.

  9. Meryl says:

    Wait… you are lamenting the lack of HFCS? Are you kidding?

    “Sorry, health freaks, but it’s a taste thing.”

    Uh… Don’t be sorry for us. Be sorry for your own liver, dude.

  10. Adam says:

    Ok Meryl. Thanks for assuming you know all about the health of a 21 year old male. It’s about balance, my friend, and having grown up in a HFCS world, I can honestly say that I enjoy it (taste wise) more than the muted taste of sugar, and eat a well balanced enough diet that I can enjoy HFCS in moderation. So once again, thanks for assuming you are the end all be all of nutritonal knowledge.

  11. Raiders757 says:

    I love strawberry and banana smoothies. The thing is, I cant’ stand the crazy mark up on them, so I make my own. You have got to love the Magic Bullet. It’s a smoothie making machine from the God of Flavor Town.

    • Michelle says:

      You can get them to make you a strawberry sundae if they have strawberry shakes you just have to get them to unhook the tube that supplies the strawberry to the shake and calibrate and it will squirt strawberry on your sundae, but the smothies are allready blended with the fruit so you won’t be able to get strawberry on your sundae like that …sorry.

  12. I see no list of yougart in the incrediants. Or are they jus giving the nutional chemical names for them

    • Michelle says:

      The yogurt is added to the fruit blend if you want it with yogurt or you can get it without yogurt.

  13. Bean says:

    @rightclue I know this thread is a bit old but I just wanted to share my outrage that you would claim that Iced Coffee is just old coffee that’s gone cold. If your McDonald’s is making their iced coffee that way, you need to call the 1800 number for the company and let them know so the problem can be corrected from the top. Ice Coffee is actually two packets of the regular coffee brewed and then poured into the container with ice. That’s what gives it such a strong flavor.

  14. translateMYhobby says:

    probably cheaper and better to make it yourself

  15. steve says:

    I tried this flavor but did not like it. I like the wild berry one because you can taste the berry flavor.

  16. Shannon says:

    This maybe a little off topic, but I too thought that all strawberries were tart. Then one day I walked in Godiva and was given a sample chocolate covered California strawberry. I was shocked at how sweet and juicy it was. I was about 25 at the time.

  17. Ub says:

    Rightclue is a fool. Mcafe drinks are real coffee beans ground and made in a $14,000 machine. Not your typical convenience store mocha that is from a pouch of syrup in a rented machine. Making up slanderous statements could end up with you in a lawsuit there noclue.

  18. Justin ST says:

    This one is pretty good too.

  19. Nick says:

    and one more=]

  20. Manavee says:

    I liked this one, but liked the other ones better

  21. Courtney says:

    I tried this one and thought it was really good. Really sweet, but thats how I like my smoothies anyway. ;)

  22. Koni says:

    This isht is bananas.

  23. James says:

    These taste amazing.

  24. Alec says:

    Never tried it. McDonald’s usually doesn’t catch my attention, but maybe one day I’ll get to it.

  25. Echo710 says:

    Out of the 3 smoothie varieties at McDonald’s, this is the only one that I have not yet tried.

  26. Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

    This sounds gross, but I’d try it for free.

  27. Cheryl says:

    Ive never been a fan of strawberry banana flavor anything.. Good to know it was not that great!

  28. Matt says:

    I’d try it if I won!

  29. mary says:

    looks pretty swell

  30. Emily says:

    This one is really creamy, and good if you drink it fast! :)

  31. McD's Employee says:

    @ rightclue – you’re a clown, the poster below you is exactly right. Iced coffee is double brewed coffee with 64oz of ice added. The McCafes are made from espresso beans that are ground up and brewed fresh for every cup (they do have espresso machines, if you have eyes you can see them).

    Next time leave your scaremongering tactics at home. If you did in fact work for McDonalds, it sounds like a pretty terrible one.