Milkshakes vs. Smoothies? Californians Divided by Generation and Gender on Frozen Drinks, Other Dairy Snacks in New Survey

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Alex Valentino 

Ketchum, on behalf of Real California Milk



Tracy, Calif. – July 7, 2022 – Summertime and snacking go hand-in-hand, creating small moments of happiness at home and on-the-go. Data from a new poll of Californians, commissioned by Real California Milk, revealed the dairy-based summer snacks that make residents the happiest. 

The poll examined consumer preferences of popular dairy foods that are often enjoyed as stand-alone or ingredients in summer snacks, including cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, drinkable yogurt, ice cream, ice cream novelties (i.e., ice cream sandwiches, ice cream bars), milk, sour cream, and yogurt. While each food had its share of fans, preference for frozen drinks revealed the biggest demographic differences. 

When given the choice between a smoothie or milkshake, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z prefer a smoothie. Baby Boomers are the exception by generation, with 62% preferring the milkshake. When split by gender, 55% of California females prefer a smoothie, while 59% of males prefer a milkshake. More parents (57%) also prefer a smoothie over a milkshake, compared to 45% of non-parents. Among all respondents, when asked which dairy-based beverage is preferred to cool off on a hot day, smoothies ranked first at 46%, with milkshakes at 37%.  

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When ranking all dairy products for summertime enjoyment, ice cream in a bowl or cone emerged as the overall favorite among 58% of residents. When pitted against cheese, four-in-five (80%) say they would prefer to enjoy ice cream as their summer snack. When asked what dairy snack reminds them most of summer, 90% of Californians cited ice cream.  

"While Americans' love for milkshakes is strong, it turns out many Californians are making the move towards milk or yogurt based smoothies for a lighter take on a sweet frozen beverage for summer snacking,” said John Talbot, CEO of Real California Milk/California Milk Advisory Board. “Despite this move, ice cream remains the king of summer snacks, which makes sense in the number one ice cream state.”   

The season isn’t limited to ice cream and smoothies. The survey also highlighted other popular dairy foods that are producing happy snacking moments for Californians in the summer. 

  • When ranking chocolate milk versus yogurt as a summertime treat, a majority of women (66%) are more likely to favor yogurt, while men are evenly split 

  • 85% of Californians agree they enjoy cheesecake year-round, but prefer it to be topped with seasonal fruit during the summer 

  • Similarly, over 80% of residents claim their favorite way to enjoy yogurt during the summer is mixed with seasonal fruit 

  • When taking a deeper dive into regions, the data uncovered Southern Californians are more likely to make dips with sour cream compared to Northern Californians (73% vs. 61%) 

“Sweet or savory, Californians rely on flavor packed snacks made with real milk and dairy to enhance moments spent with family and friends all summer long,” continued Talbot. 

Find recipe inspiration for smoothies, milkshakes, and more summer snacks, along with information about California dairy food and farming at 

California is the number one dairy state, producing more milk, butter, and ice cream than any other state. It is the second largest producer of cheese and yogurt. California family dairy farmers are focused on delivering the wholesome goodness of California milk, while creating a greener, more sustainable future for dairy in the state.  

The online survey was conducted among a sample consisting of 500 Americans 18 years of age and older, living in California between June 10 – 17, 2022. The margin of error for the total sample at the 95% confidence level is +/-4%. 

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About Real California Milk/the California Milk Advisory Board
The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is funded by the state's dairy farm families who lead the nation in sustainable dairy farming practices. With a vision to nourish the world with the wholesome goodness of Real California Milk, the CMAB's programs focus on increasing demand for California's sustainable dairy products in the state, across the U.S. and around the world through advertising, public relations, research, and retail and foodservice promotional programs. For more information and to connect with the CMAB, visit, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest


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