By Emily Lohr, Staff Writer
It’s a breezy fall morning at the Kankakee farmer’s market, but the length of the line in front of C-Mac’s Smoothie stand at the Kankakee Farmer’s Market would make you think it was a hot summer’s day.
With a smile that tells you she’s proud of her product, Dr. Heather Attig, Olivet communications professor, hands a young girl a C-Mac signature mix – the spinach smoothie.
“Parents love these smoothies, to buy [them] for their kids – especially the spinach smoothie,” said Attig. “It’s the most popular smoothie we sell because it tastes sweet.”
“It doesn’t look good,” she adds with a laugh. “But it’s got all the nutrition. Everything your body needs is in that smoothie.”
Calling the beverage chocolate-colored might be a bit of a stretch, but if doing so gets kids to give the drink a chance, then stand owner Corey McLaughlin is all for it.
McLaughlin is passionate not only about the taste of his products, but also about their health benefits, a fact that is clear to anyone who reads C-Mac’s mission statement: “Helping folks get healthy, one smoothie at a time.”
Ask him about the nutritional content of the smoothie, and he’s right there spouting off a list of vitamins and minerals so long it would make the back of your cereal box jealous. And while the nutritional content might be what brings the parents out, it’s the taste that keeps the kids coming back again and again.
“She comes every week,” Attig motions towards young Allie Battrell, waiting off to the side for her made-to-order smoothie. Her preference? The spinach smoothie, of course.
“But with all the other fruits, you can’t taste it,” Battrell said. “I thought it was kind of weird, but when I tried it, it tasted amazing.”
Now Battrell comes to the market to get a smoothie every week.
Most of C-Mac’s customers are like that: repeat customers who try a smoothie once and get hooked.
McLaughlin started his smoothie operation back in Kansas City, Missouri,where he sold his 100 percent fruit and veggie smoothies at a much smaller venue. When he moved to Bourbonnais last March, the smoothie business came with him.
“The very first week we were [at the market], we sold out in two hours because we didn’t have a clue how much to bring,” Attig said.
It took the couple about three weeks to find the right level of raw products to bring.
And raw product is pretty much all they bring. All of C-Mac’s smoothies contain only the fruit listed in the name and water –no sugar or fillers to speak of.
The market’s manager is also a fan of the transparently simple recipe.
“I love that there’s no sugar at all. I look forward to it every Saturday,” market manager Liz Gernon-Lipofski remarked as she sipped her smoothie.
But C-Mac’s Smoothies don’t just have the power to please the taste buds and power the body: these smoothies are known to bring people together.
“He sent out an email to all the volunteers at the church that said, ‘Hey, come to my smoothie stand at the farmer’s market.’ It was a nice little segue into getting to know each other,” Attig recalled fondly.
Attig and McLaughlin are engaged to be married this October.
Both Attig and McLaughlin agree the best moments are when one of their healthy smoothies can bring joy to an unexpected situation.
This summer, one mother approached Attig to tell her how much C-Mac’s Smoothies had meant to her. Her son, who had been recovering from a brain tumor, was having a hard time getting the nutrients he needed to recover.
“She says, ‘I make him smoothies, but he doesn’t like my smoothies nearly as much as yours,’” Attig said. “So she would come to the market on Saturday to get him a smoothie and that was a really cool realization for us. It’s small, but it’s helping people.”
Although this Saturday marks the last farmer’s market of the season, be sure to look for C-Mac’s Smoothies next spring.