For hundreds of years, many cultures have served puréed style drinks, but it wasn’t until the invention of the blender and home refrigerators in the 1900’s that thousands of Americans began experiencing the joy of blended juices.
Refrigeration was common in commercial restaurants from the mid 1860’s but the leakage of certain gases, like ammonia, used in commercial appliances made refrigerators generally unsafe for home use. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that refrigerators became safe, gained in popularity and dropped in price. Refrigerators were now in almost every home.
People started using their appliances for many things, but the smoothie hadn’t made its grand entrance to the world audience as yet.
The First Smoothie Store
In 1970, a lactose intolerant teenager named Steven Kuhnau began to make smoothies, this was because he couldn’t drink milkshakes like all of his peers.
Unable to digest milkshakes because of his lactose intolerance, he created frozen blends of fresh fruit, ice, and nutrients and fruit juice instead. He was excited to discover that not only did they taste good, they helped control his allergies and blood sugar levels as well.
Kuhnau was so excited by his invention he opened a health food store called ‘The Smoothie King’, and began selling health supplements alongside his healthy fruit based drinks.
Kuhnau didn’t invent the name. He just branded it, saying the first time he heard the word was in reference to fruit and fruit juice based drinks made by ‘hippies’ in the late 60’s.
Prior to Kuhnau’s ‘Smoothie King’, the name smoothie was used to describe everything from women’s bras and girdles, to ball point pens, car paint and machinery. There was even a band named ‘The Smoothies’.
It wasn’t until Kuhnau opened his health food store and called his drinks smoothies, to appeal to the already health conscious hippies who knew what the term meant, that the name took off. Now, with more than 600 ‘Smoothie King’ stores in America today, it’s unlikely the name will ever change.
Smoothies, an American Idea?
Smoothies were known to be created in many different cultures prior to the American explosion, but it’s safe to say that the American smoothies, a pureed fruit drink, began in the early 1920’s when Julius Freed, another young man with a sensitive stomach, began looking for a way to enjoy freshly squeezed orange juice. His stomach couldn’t handle the acidity of fresh squeezed oranges, so he found a way and a few choice ingredients to make them less acidic and a little frothy. His friends loved them and said, “Give me an orange, Julius”, and thus his store, the ‘Orange Julius’ was born.
A New Phenomenon
After the discovery that South American cultures had drunk smoothies for years, many people began to invent their own recipes. The invention of the blender and the refrigerator simply made the drink more popular and more accessible to more people.
Smoothies have come a long way over the years. There are hundreds of recipes available to choose from, on both ends of the health spectrum, containing a multitude of different ingredients. For a truly healthy smoothie, milk and cream based options should be avoided, instead use water based recipes.
Many makes and models of smoothie makers are available, all of which offer different features. Treat yourself, and see which smoothie you prefer.