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.
Grubbing on-the-go: 8.50/10
Price: 1.99 (Free with Coupon)
Overall GrubGrade: 6.25 (Average)
More Info: McDonalds.com
McDonald's Real Fruit Smoothie (Strawberry Banana)
Serving Size: Small (12 onces)
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