Jamba Juice Wages Breakfast War on Starbucks

New breakfast fare at Jamba Juice follows shift in morning meals at Starbucks.
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By Nancy Luna of the Orange County Register

Instead of giving customers a refreshing cool lift,

Jamba Juice

(JMBA) - Get Report

wants to warm them up.

Starting today, Jamba Juice plans to sell oatmeal in a majority of its 700 shops. The national roll out of the hot morning grub is a milestone for the company -- marking the first significant debut of a non-smoothie item on its menu, said newly appointed Chief Executive James D. White.

"It's our foray into food," said White, a former brand executive at supermarket chain




Jamba Juice's oatmeal takes 40 minutes to prepare, but is available to customers instantly, the chain said. It is made with organic, steel-cut oats and comes with a choice of three real fruit toppings: blueberry-blackberry, apple cinnamon or fresh bananas. (Cost: $2.95)

But, is Jamba Juice too late? The arrival of oatmeal comes after


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beat Jamba Juice to the breakfast table. Starbucks introduced a $2.45 oatmeal last fall (2008), a move that gave the struggling coffee chain a much-needed financial boost.

Is Jamba Juice copying Starbucks? Will coffee be next on the smoothie chain's menu? White, reached by phone Wednesday to discuss the oatmeal launch, addressed those questions and more during a phone interview.

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read the Q&A

with the Fast Food Maven.