Smoothie King Clearly Learned A Lesson From Panera's 'Killer Lemonade'

Raspberry lemonade with fruit
Raspberry lemonade with fruit - Elena Veselova / Shutterstock

Smoothie King has been mixing up antioxidant-packed smoothies since the '70s, and its menu features tons of flavor combinations made with organic fruits and veggies. Although smoothies are its specialty, the chain appears to be branching into new territory. According to information shared with Mashed, Smoothie King is testing a new line of drinks that will ditch the brand's traditional thick texture in favor of refreshing juices and lemonades. The new items will appear on menus -- exclusively in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Kansas City, Missouri -- starting February 6.

These fruit juice blends served over ice are the first of their kind on the brand's menu, and they even have a light touch of caffeine. Emphasizing "light" is important, especially when compared to Panera's lemonade, which contains unexpectedly high caffeine levels. One regular-sized cup of Panera lemonade sits at 260 milligrams of caffeine, which accounts for half of the FDA's recommended daily amount for adults. In comparison, Smoothie King is striving to uphold its health-conscious mission by keeping that number relatively low — each 20-ounce drink will contain 60 milligrams of caffeine.

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Smoothie King Is Testing Four New Drink Flavors

Smoothie King refresher lemonades
Smoothie King refresher lemonades - Smoothie King

Along with its fairly low caffeine levels, the brand's new SK Refreshers test promises to deliver four unique flavors to its lineup of popular Smoothie King menu items -- for those in select markets, at least. Pineapple Mango and Strawberry Guava are its two main juice blends. The other two start with those same fruit combos, but they'll also be infused with a classic punch of citrus in lemonade form. Infusing its juices with fresh, whole fruits and vitamins seems to still be a priority for the chain, and each regular beverage contains less than 10 grams of added sugar.

While Panera eventually had to post a warning label on its caffeinated lemonade, Smoothie King seems intent on avoiding a similar scenario. According to the chain's website, it's consistently recognized as a top restaurant franchise and has experienced plenty of growth as it shifts its menu options in favor of successful trends. If the SK Refreshers test proves to be another smash hit, perhaps Smoothie King will even offer these beverages nationwide -- only time will tell.

Read the original article on Mashed.