While attending the 2011 National Restaurant Association Show here in Chicago, I got a chance to talk to John Slawny of Germantown, WI-based Ghel Foods. They recently launched a set of shelf-stable smoothie drinks under their Main St. Cafe brand.
The big selling point that Mr. Slawny was making with their Main St. Cafe lineup was that they wanted their smoothie line to be featured along other beverages on shelves, not so much in the dairy case, even though they come straight from a dairy. The thinking is that they are another beverage option along with your standard collection of carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, etc. Though you may scratch your head regarding the way these things don’t need to be refrigerated prior to opening, they are worth checking out.
For the purposes of this review, we looked at two of their three flavors, Peach and Mixed Berry; they also offer Strawberry. Each flavor comes in an 11 oz plastic container that somewhat resembles a bottle of milk. It’s hard to miss the “10 g of Natural Dairy Protein Per Bottle” callouts on the bottles. With the phrase “Protein Smoothie” underneath the round Main St. Cafe logo, it’s obvious that protein is a big selling point here.
Let’s start things off with Main St. Cafe Protein Smoothie Peach, which Main St. says is one of their most popular flavors. They note on the bottle that this flavor comes from “freshly made yogurt and real peach puree.” You’ll also need to make sure you shake well before opening (don’t confuse this practice with a bottle of Mountain Dew; your results will not be the same… nor will your kitchen floor.) After breaking the plastic seal on the cap, you’ll find another foil safety seal underneath. The smoothie is a milky, yellow color, much like a light tan paint. It smells like it came from a dairy, with a sweet peach smell complimenting the yogurt base.
The taste produces a thick drink that you’d associate with a smoothie. Probably thicker than normal, perhaps because of the heavy inclusion of protein. It’s very sweet, almost to the point of “wow, this is a smoothie?” However, the peach flavor was quite tasty. I’m not a big fan of peach as a fruit in general, but I quite liked the flavoring in this beverage.
Let’s now take a look at Main St. Cafe Protein Smoothie Mixed Berry. The same packaging style applies for this flavor, however it takes on a notable pink/purple scheme vs. the orange/yellow colors of Peach. This drink has a milky, pink color tint. I’m not quite sure what it smells like. Yes, there is a hint of “berry” present, whatever that is. All I know is that it isn’t peach, which is good enough for me.
The flavor is once again thick, but this time feels a tad bit heavy and pasty. Unlike the Peach flavor, Mixed Berry doesn’t really hide the fact that it’s a protein-laden beverage. In some ways, it parallels a pre-packaged protein shake. It’s interesting to note that the ingredient list for Mixed Berry is quite a bit longer than for Peach. But overall, it’s not bad, per se. However, when compared to the experience of the Peach flavor, there are noticeable protein elements. That said, Mixed Berry is slightly sweet and more muted, which is some ways provides for improved drinkability.
Main St. Cafe Protein Smoothie Peach
Lowfat yogurt [heat treated after culturing] (Cultured reduced fat milk), water, sugar, peach puree, modified food starch, fructose, whey protein, pectin, gelatin, natural flavor, citric acid
A 11 oz bottle contains 260 calories, 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 350 mg potassium, 54 g carbs (43 g sugars, 1 g dietary fiber), and 10 g protein.
Main St. Cafe Protein Smoothie Mixed Berry
Lowfat yogurt [heat treated after culturing] (Cultured reduced fat milk), water, sugar, fruit puree (blueberry, strawberry, raspberry), modified food starch, concentrated fruit juice (raspberry, apple), whey protein, pectin, natural & artificial flavor, citric acid, gelatin, malic acid, caramel color, cochineal extract, FD&C Red 40, potassium sorbate
A 11 oz bottle contains 270 calories, 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 330 mg potassium, 53 g carbs (42 g sugars, 1 g dietary fiber), and 10 g protein.
Overall, we liked Main St. Cafe Protein Smoothies quite a bit, with special emphasis on the Peach flavor. Interesting products as they are shelf-stable, but potentially offer the opportunity for dairy/smoothie products to reach a wider audience than what we’re currently seeing in the beverage marketplace.
Official Website: Main St. Cafe
Full Disclosure: These beverages were provided compliments of Gehl Foods