- Jamba Juice on Thursday changed its name to just “Jamba” and unveiled a new menu and aesthetic.
- Jamba’s new menu focuses more on plant-based options. One of its new smoothies, the Vanilla Blue Sky, is made with spirulina, a blue-green algae.
- I tried the Vanilla Blue Sky smoothie and was surprised by how drinkable it was.
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For many millennials, sky-blue drinks conjure up memories of blue raspberry slushies in summer. In the early 2000s, blue raspberry was both the coolest and the most artificial flavour.
Now, Jamba (formerly Jamba Juice) is trying to reclaim blue drinks for the natural-foods-inclined. Its new Vanilla Blue Sky smoothie is part of a rebrand for the juice company, which unveiled a new shortened name, aesthetic, and menu on Thursday.
Jamba has struggled in recent years as consumers have moved away from sugar-packed and highly processed drinks in favour of organic, gluten-free, and low-calorie alternatives. Jamba became a subsidiary of FOCUS Brands in 2018.
A new team of executives was assembled in January to lead the brand’s comeback. Led by President Geoff Henry and Chief Marketing Officer Shivram Vaideeswaran, the new team created a strategy that focused on having less sugar and more plants in its drinks.
It was on the morn of this new plan’s launch that I found myself in possession of one of Jamba’s most intriguing new creations: an algae-based smoothie by the name of Vanilla Blue Sky.
Once I pushed past my confusion at the combination of the flavour vanilla with the colour blue, I realised that this strange creature’s unnatural colour was, in fact, not the product of a laboratory, but spirulina. A quick Google search revealed to me that spirulina is a nutrient-rich cyanobacteria, although there is no scientific evidence to support its nutritional advantages or effectiveness in treating health conditions.
Nevertheless, I am ambivalent about algae, even if it is blue-green. The main components of the smoothie are almond milk, vanilla coconut milk, bananas, and pineapples – and all of those sounded perfectly palatable together.
The smoothie was fairly watery, unlike the thick and creamy Jamba classics. There was a hint of sweet, probably provided by the sugar in the fruit as well as by the added sugar in the vanilla coconut milk. The combination of plant-based milks made for a nutty flavour that enhanced the creaminess of the banana, while the pineapple added a very slight acidic tang. There was also a vaguely earthy undertone, which I attribute to the algae.
Supposed health benefits aside, this smoothie was a light, refreshing, yet fairly filling breakfast alternative. As a lactose-intolerant person, I felt pretty good about consuming these vegan milks. I also felt pretty good afterwards. There was little-to-no added sugar, which is – at least for me – an improvement upon Jamba’s sugar-packed classic smoothies.
I’m not really a smoothie drinker, much less a Jamba fan. And while this smoothie didn’t exactly wow me with its taste, I drank all of it and felt pretty good afterwards. Plus, there was something about the nutty, earthy taste that was actually kind of addicting. Maybe the time is right for blue to ditch the artificial raspberry.
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