Sara Brooks Adams
It is no secret: Mississippi is not the healthiest state when it comes to food choices. But take a brief stroll through any large American city and you won’t see many options for healthy, quick food.
From barbeque to fried chicken, Oxford has plenty of incredible food – but what if you want something light and healthy?
Brent Cartwright saw this gap in the food scene and brought his entrepreneurial spirit to Oxford, where he opened a healthy smoothie joint right in the heart of town.
Cartwright is the owner and manager of OxfordSip, a food establishment with a goal of offering delicious, healthy, nutritious shakes and tea without all the sugar and fat.
For the last 30 years, Cartwright has been a car salesman in Jackson, but he said his family has always valued eating healthy and staying fit. When his daughter came to Ole Miss in 2018, she complained that quick, healthy food was hard to come by.
“College students do not have to endure the freshman 15 – it is all about making healthy diet choices,” he said. “And that does not mean skimping on flavor.”
Cartwright said the Sip name brought together two ideas that were central to his business.
“Mississippi is my home,” he said. “I’ve raised my children here. Sip is a nickname for the state that we love and the pride we have for Oxford. We also wanted to let customers know that we serve shakes, smoothies, and tea – all things that can be enjoyed by sipping it through a straw.”
Employee Grace Cartwright, a UM junior, is Brent’s daughter.
“My friends and I love having a close, healthy option,” she said.
The shakes are filling and jam-packed with all kinds of great, fresh ingredients. I love getting to work at Sip with my dad, mostly because I get a free smoothie each day.”
Sip is located at 1537 University Avenue, a quick trip from the Ole Miss campus. It has become an incredibly popular spot for Ole Miss students.
Students who visit OxfordSip – or Sip as it is commonly called – often post photos of their smoothies and teas on social media. The reason it has blossomed locally as a viral social media trend is by design.
“We offer a $2 discount to any college student who posts a photo of their purchase on social media and tags our Instagram account,” Cartwright said. “This has been our primary means of advertising, and it definitely works.”
A look at their menu shows that there is quite a variety, and each shake is meant to be a meal replacement. At an average of 250 calories, under 10 grams of sugar, and packed with protein, the shakes taste great but are healthy.
Each shake flavor tastes like its name – Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Wedding Cake – but despite their sugar-filled names, these shakes are actually healthy. Other shake flavors include Bahama Breeze, Funfetti, Lemon Ice Box, and Peanut Butter Cup.
These shakes are advertised as meal replacement shakes primarily because of their high protein content.
“With 24 grams of protein, that is similar to eating a chicken breast, so the shakes are very filling,” said Cartwright.
The teas sound equally as indulgent, with flavors like Gummi Bear, Grape Jolly Rancher, Black Pearl, and Rebel Yell. Teas are 24 calories and include vitamins and herbs that contribute to energy, focus, and emotional wellness.
Despite the sugary, indulgent names of the shakes and teas, each of the ingredients in their products is organic.
“We understand the importance of sourcing sustainable, organic ingredients, and we offer mostly gluten-free, vegan options,” Cartwright said.
The problem with other shake and smoothie places is that they use batch ingredients and too much sugar.
“Not us,” Cartwright said, “We meticulously source and measure each ingredient so customers know exactly what they are getting with our shakes.”
Though they target college students, do they have college student prices? The answer is yes. Each shake costs $8, and the various teas each cost $7. If someone orders a shake and a tea, there is a $3 discount.
“The shakes are a healthy, drinkable meal – so $8 is a steal,” said Grace Cartwright.
OxfordSip’s slogan is “One Sip, and you’ll be hooked,” and it seems to be true for some.
“The first time I came here was by accident with a friend,” said Megan Everett, a junior biology major at Ole Miss. “I tried the Butterfinger shake and now I have to get it at least once per week. I have to admit, I am absolutely hooked and I tell everyone to try Sip.”