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By Maria Caranfa, RD
We have all experienced the intense pain that comes from sipping your favorite frozen beverage too fast. That pain is referred to as brain freeze and we've all felt it. It used to be that to get that ice cold, fruity, frozen beverage you would make your way down to the local convenience store. But this summer, quick-service and fast casual restaurants are giving convenience stores a run for their brain freeze.
Taco Bell, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain have all added frozen beverages or smoothies to their beverage line up. Taco Bell introduced the new Frutista Freeze, a permanent line of signature frozen drinks. Fruista Freeze comes in both Strawberry and Strawberry Mango and is topped with real strawberries. Einstein Bros. created frozen Colada's in berry and strawberry and Panera Bread froze their lemonade for summer.
Beverages are becoming a major component of the restaurant menu. They can not only be enjoyed with a meal, but they make a refreshing and often fulfilling snack. Flavor variety is key in creating the perfect frozen treat. According to Mintel Menu Insights, the top five flavors of frozen beverages on restaurant menus are strawberry, orange, lemon, caramel and mocha. Emerging tropical flavors include kiwi, banana, pineapple and lime.
Lemonade is a cold summertime favorite and now it getting even colder. Along with Panera's frozen lemonade, Ram Restaurant and Brewery offers frozen lemonade with kiwi, pomegranate and watermelon, among other flavors. Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon offer their Lickety Split Lemonade.
Restaurants have noted the value of adding frozen drinks to their menus and have come up with a variety of enticing beverage choices for consumers. While restaurants put a spin on some classic summer-time drinks with new flavors and combinations, convenience stores stay loyal to the original flavors. The popularity of convenience store signature drinks will continue to remind consumers where the originals are.
Maria Caranfa leads Mintel Menu Insights with analysis and commentary on national foodservice trends. Her passionate insight has been featured in numerous publications, including the Nation's Restaurant News, The Washington Post, Flavor & the Menu, the San Francisco Chronicle and the American Dietetic Association Times. As a registered dietitian and certified health and fitness instructor from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), she stays on top of the latest health and food trends. Caranfa received her Bachelor's degree in Dietetics and Nutrition, Fitness and Health.