Jamba Isn't Kidding Around

There may not be any paper crowns to hand out or mustard- and ketchup-colored clowns to entertain, but Jamba (NASDAQ: JMBA  ) is hoping to turn toddlers into smoothie sippers by adding its own line of kid-friendly combo meals.

Jamba Kids Meals was introduced last week throughout the 788-unit Jamba Juice chain.

Unlike McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  )  with its fries and fried Happy Meals, Jamba's making a point to build on its active lifestyle brand through healthy offerings. The meals were designed in partnership with the Jamba Healthy Living Council, pairing up small, 9.5-ounce fruit and juice smoothies with whole-grain snacks including a cheesy stuffed pretzel or a turkey pizza swirl.

This doesn't mean that Jamba is taking the fun out of things, though you have to wonder at the mettle of the kids who will choose the beet-stoked smoothie that's being offered alongside three tastier fruity concoctions. The kids receive stickers, and the straws do change color.

The point is that Jamba is going beyond what Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX  ) does in offering steamed milk or caramel- and spice-enhanced apple juice. Jamba is creating entire combo meals with the fun elements of traditional burger chains, but with the nutritional benefits that consumers expect from Jamba.

The biggest benefit here may be ambassadorial.

Jamba Kids Meals are targeted for kids between the ages of 4 and 8, though naturally anyone should be able to order one. However, the move educates kids. As they move through school, many of these children will be exposed to the growing fleet of JamboGO machines. Jamba expects to roll out 1,000 of these self-serve smoothie machines to school cafeterias this year, largely in high schools. As adults, they will naturally be more familiar with what should by then be a much larger Jamba Juice chain.

Jamba isn't just introducing kid meals this month. Jamba is also educating consumers on the merits of Jamba as a wellness brand as early as possible. 

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