What are the edible straws made out of at Tropical Smoothie?

Quick Answer

The edible straws at Tropical Smoothie are made out of a cookie dough material that includes wheat flour, sugar, brown rice flour, cinnamon, and sunflower lecithin. The straws are designed to be an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic straws.

Ingredients in Tropical Smoothie’s Edible Straws

Tropical Smoothie has not publicly disclosed the full recipe for their edible straws. However, based on available information, the main ingredients likely include:

  • Wheat flour – Provides structure and texture
  • Sugar – Adds sweetness
  • Brown rice flour – Gluten-free flour option
  • Cinnamon – Provides flavoring
  • Sunflower lecithin – Helps bind ingredients

Additional minor ingredients may be used as well, such as salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, etc. But the key components are wheat flour, sugar, brown rice flour, cinnamon, and sunflower lecithin.

The straws are made without any preservatives or artificial ingredients. They are baked into a cookie-like dough straw shape.

Nutrition Information

The nutrition facts for Tropical Smoothie’s edible straws are:

Nutrient Per Straw
Calories 60
Total Fat 1 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Sodium 65 mg
Total Carbohydrates 13 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 8 g
Protein 1 g

As you can see, the straws are high in carbohydrates and sugar due to the wheat and brown rice flours and added sugar. They provide only 1 gram of protein per straw.

Benefits of Edible Straws

Tropical Smoothie’s edible straws provide some advantages over traditional plastic straws:

  • Environmentally friendly – Made from edible, biodegradable ingredients instead of plastic. Reduce plastic waste and pollution.
  • Fun experience – Provides a tasty cookie-like treat after finishing your drink.
  • Convenient – No need to remember reusable straws. The straws are built-in to the drinks served at Tropical Smoothie.
  • Customizable flavors – Tropical Smoothie rotates through edible straw flavors like cinnamon sugar, chocolate chip, and honey graham.
  • Adds fiber – Contains wheat and brown rice flours, providing more fiber than plastic straws.

The edible straws align with Tropical Smoothie’s sustainability initiatives and goal of reducing plastic waste. Customers enjoy the novelty of being able to eat their straws.

Drawbacks of Edible Straws

However, there are some downsides to Tropical Smoothie’s edible straws compared to plastic:

  • Less sturdy – Can become soggy and collapse if left in liquid too long.
  • Not gluten-free – Contains wheat flour, not suitable for gluten intolerance.
  • Higher cost – More expensive to produce than standard plastic straws.
  • High in carbohydrates and sugar – Much more than plastic straws or paper alternatives.
  • Not low-calorie – Around 60 calories per straw, which can add up.
  • Allergy concerns – Made in a facility with wheat, milk, soy, eggs. Risk of allergic reaction.

While edible, the cookie dough straws are not the best option for customers limiting sugar, carbs, or allergens. They also come at a higher cost to businesses compared to plastic straws.

How Tropical Smoothie’s Edible Straws Are Produced

Tropical Smoothie sources their edible straws from the company Smart Straws, based in Indianapolis. Smart Straws makes edible straws out of cookie dough using a patented process.

Here is an overview of how the edible straws are produced:

  1. Mix dough ingredients – Blend flour, sugar, cinnamon, lecithin, etc. in industrial mixer.
  2. Extrude straw shapes – Push dough through a shaped die to form long hollow straw shapes.
  3. Cut straws – Cut extruded dough into individual straw lengths, like 7-8 inches.
  4. Bake straws – Bake at around 300°F to set the dough into a solid straw shape.
  5. Apply flavors – Some straws are rolled or coated in ingredients like cinnamon sugar after baking.
  6. Package straws – Straws are packed into boxes and shipped to Tropical Smoothie outlets.

It’s a fairly simple and straightforward process using standard baking equipment and techniques. The patented part is likely the extrusion die that shapes the dough into long, hollow straw pieces.

Are the Edible Straws Compostable?

No, Tropical Smoothie’s edible straws made from cookie dough are not certified compostable. The wheat and rice flours are natural ingredients, but the straws contain added sugars and oils that make them take longer to break down.

Compostable straws need to meet specific standards and certifications to be labeled as such:

  • Must break down in commercial composting facilities within 90 days.
  • Must be made from 100% renewable natural materials.
  • Cannot contain any petroleum-based ingredients.

Tropical Smoothie’s edible straws likely fail the 90 day breakdown requirement. The added sugars and oils cause them to take longer to fully decompose.

While not compostable, they are still a better option than plastic since they use natural cookie ingredients. But they won’t rapidly break down through composting.

Are There Allergen-Free Options?

Unfortunately, Tropical Smoothie’s edible straws are not allergen-free. They contain wheat flour and are made in facilities that process milk, soy, eggs, and other allergens.

This makes them unsafe for people with celiac disease, wheat allergies, or other food sensitivities. There is risk of an allergic reaction or intolerance symptoms if consumed.

Tropical Smoothie does not currently offer any gluten-free, vegan, or allergen-free edible straw options. Their straw ingredients cannot be easily modified since they rely on wheat flour for the structure and texture.

Those seeking allergen-free or vegan straws would need to bring their own edible/compostable straw or reuse a plastic straw provided by the restaurant.

Are There Any Risks or Dangers?

Tropical Smoothie’s edible straws are generally safe to eat, but a few risks and dangers to consider include:

  • Choking hazard – The straws can present a choking risk, especially for young children and toddlers.
  • Allergic reactions – As noted above, those with wheat, gluten, or other food allergies could react to the straws.
  • Contamination – Potential for mold if straws get wet and aren’t consumed quickly.
  • Unsanitary conditions – Made in a factory and exposed to air prior to use. Not as clean as single-use plastic straws.

To avoid dangers, edible straws should be consumed quickly rather than letting them sit in liquid. Extra care should be taken when giving them to small children. Allergy precautions should be followed as well.

Overall though, the cookie dough straws are intended to be eaten and do not pose any significant health risks in most cases. They provide a fun treat combined with the functionality of a straw.

Comparison to Other Edible Straw Options

Tropical Smoothie uses a unique cookie dough formulation for their edible straws. But there are other edible straw varieties on the market:

Edible Straw Type Materials Benefits Downsides
Cookie dough Wheat flour, sugar, oils Tasty cookie flavor High in carbs, not allergy-friendly
Rice paper Rice and tapioca Low carb, customizable flavors Can get soggy, delicate
Agar gel Seaweed, food dyes Fun colors, vegan Can melt quickly, bland flavor
Licorice Flour, licorice extract Unique licorice taste Also high in carbs, strong flavor

Cookie dough strikes a balance of having a nice flavor and texture while still being sturdy enough to use as a straw. But rice paper and agar gel give some interesting vegan, gluten-free alternatives.

Availability at Tropical Smoothie Locations

As of late 2022, Tropical Smoothie has rolled out their edible cookie dough straws to around 600 of their nearly 1,000 locations in the United States. The straws are available at a majority but not all Tropical Smoothie cafes.

Availability depends on when each franchise location introduced the edible straws based on supply and coordination with the Smart Straws supplier. Customers should call their nearest Tropical Smoothie to ask if they offer the edible straws option.

Tropical Smoothie has posted on social media saying they hope to bring the edible straws to all their locations by early 2023 as they continue the nationwide rollout. So availability should only increase in the coming months.

Customer Reactions

Reviews of Tropical Smoothie’s edible straws from customers have generally been positive:

  • Many customers enjoy the novelty and fun of being able to eat their straws.
  • The cookie dough taste makes the experience more interactive and tasty.
  • Kids and parents love the idea of straws being a snack.
  • Customers appreciate the move away from plastic straws for sustainability.
  • Fans like being able to try new flavors as Tropical Smoothie rotates options.

However, there are some negative reactions as well:

  • Those avoiding gluten are disappointed they cannot have the straws.
  • Some find the straws too soggy or not sturdy enough for thicker drinks.
  • Customers allergic to wheat, dairy, or eggs wish there were allergy-free options.
  • The high carb and sugar content deters low-carb dieters.
  • A few feel the straw flavor overpowers the drink taste.

But overall, reviews lean positive and see the edible straws as an inventive sustainability solution that adds an element of fun. Tropical Smoothie may look at expanding the line with gluten-free, vegan alternatives.

Future Outlook and Predictions

The future looks bright for Tropical Smoothie’s edible straw initiative. Some predictions for the edible straws going forward:

  • Will become available chainwide as supply and distribution expands.
  • New flavors will be rotated in based on season, limited-time offers.
  • May expand into other edible sipper shapes like spoons, sippy cup lids.
  • Could develop allergen-free, gluten-free versions to attract more customers.
  • Other major chains may copy the idea if it successfully reduces plastic waste.
  • Could eventually be able to compost the straws with adjustments to the recipe.

Edible straw innovation aligns strongly with consumer sustainability values. Tropical Smoothie has staked a first-mover position with their rollout. They are poised to build on current momentum by optimizing straw performance, expanding flavor options, and making them more inclusive for various diets and allergies.

The edible straw concept has significant room for growth as more businesses follow Tropical Smoothie’s lead. Within the next few years, edible and compostable straws could go from novelty to norm at restaurants nationwide.


Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s cookie dough straws provide a tasty and eco-friendly alternative to plastic straws. Their innovative edible straws are produced from a simple blend of wheat flour, sugar, and spices.

These straws offer sustainability benefits while also letting customers enjoy a sweet cookie dough flavor. However, drawbacks include higher costs compared to plastic, potential allergens, and not being certified compostable.

Overall customer reaction to the edible straws is generally positive. Tropical Smoothie appears committed to rolling them out chainwide and improving the concept. Edible straws have potential to make an important environmental impact if more food service businesses implement creative solutions like Tropical Smoothie’s.

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