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A smoothie (alternatively spelled Smoothi, smoothee or smoothy, the name comes from the smooth property of the emulsion) is a blended and sometimes sweetened beverage made from fresh fruit (fruit smoothie) and in special cases can contain chocolate or peanut butter. In addition to fruit, many smoothies include crushed ice, frozen fruit, honey or contain syrup and ice ingredients. They have a milkshake-like consistency that is thicker than slush drinks. They can also contain milk, yogurt or ice cream. Smoothies are often marketed to health-conscious people, and some restaurants offer add-ins such as soy milk, whey powder, green tea, herbal supplements, or nutritional supplement mixes.
The electric blender gave birth to the smoothie in the United States. The word "smoothie" was first coined by Mabel Stegner on June 23, 1940 in an article titled "Let the blender do it for you!" published in the New York Herald Tribune (p. 14-15). Concerning ingredients she wrote: "For instance, place a few ounces of milk, fruit juice, tomato juice or any desired liquid in the food container [of the blender]. Add a banana, or strawberries, or pitted cherries, or diced vegetables, Place the container on the base, switch on the electricity and in less than a minute out comes a banana milk 'smoothie,' a fruit nectar, or a raw vegetable cocktail.
The earliest known use of the word "smoothee" also appeared in 1940 and also in connection with the newly commercialized electric blender. That year the Waring Corporation, founded by the popular and very talented bandleader Fred Waring, published its first little booklet of recipes titled "Recipes to Make Your Waring-Go-Round," which contained 12 early recipes for "milk smoothees." Waring had hired Mabel Stegner, B.S., a Home Economics Consultant from the University of Wisconsin, to develop the recipes.
Smoothies were first made in the homes of those who owned an electric blender; they became widely available in the United States in the late 1960s when ice cream vendors and health food stores began selling them. By the 1990s and 2000s, smoothies became available at mainstream cafés and coffee shops and in pre-bottled versions at supermarkets all over the world.
Health food stores on the West Coast of the United States began selling puréed fruit drinks in the 1930s, based on recipes that originated in Brazil. The 1940s-era Waring Blendor cookbooks published recipes for a "banana smoothie" and a "pineapple smoothee." The name "smoothee" or "smoothie" was used by books, magazines, and newspapers for a product made in a blender. Dan Titus, the director of The Juice and Smoothie Association, states in his book, Smoothies, The Original Smoothie Book, that "smoothies became popular in the middle 1960s, when there was a resurgence in the United States in macrobiotic vegetarianism." The first trademark for a fruit slush was in the mid-1970s with the name "California Smoothie", which was marketed by the California Smoothie Company from Paramus, New Jersey. Smoothies from the 1960s and early 1970s were "basically fruit, fruit juice, and ice"; in some cases in the early 1970s, ice milk was also blended in to create the "fruit shake". These shakes were served at local health-food restaurants and at health-food stores alongside tofu, fruits, carob, and other health-oriented foods.
In the early 1970s, the co-founder of Smoothie King, Stephen Kuhnau, began selling blended fruit drinks under the name "smoothie". However, Kuhnau admits that he "didn't invent the word smoothie"; instead, he states that the term dates back to the "fruit and fruit juice based drinks made by the Hippies" in the late 1960s. In the 1980s, the increasing popularity of sports and fitness led to the marketing of supplement-fortified health food products. During this time, the first specialized juice and smoothie bars opened. By the 2000s, the "juice and smoothie industry [was] a multi-billion dollar industry."
Since the 1990s, many smoothie companies like Booster Juice have been using frozen yogurt to give their smoothies a thick, creamy, milkshake-like texture. Many types of fruit smoothies are found in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, including sharbat, which is typically made of yogurt and honey, as well as a range of fresh fruit. In India, the traditional Mango Shake is really a summer smoothie in which tota puri mango, crushed water ice, milk and cane sugar are mixed into a thick smoothie using a blender, while in South India, pineapple smoothies with crushed ice and sugar (without milk) are more popular. Smoothies can also be mixed with soft drinks and/or alcohol to make cocktails.
- Stegner, Mabel. 1940. "Let the Blender Do It for You!" New York Herald Tribune, This Week magazine. June 23. p. 14-15
- The Waring Corporation. 1940. Recipes to Make your Waring-Go-Round. New York, NY: The Waring Corporation. 48 p. 15 x 23 cm.
- Brown, Ellen (2005). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Smoothies. p. [page needed]. ISBN 1-59257-318-5.