Way back in the 80s, when I was a kid, we visited my aunt in Texas. She made us strawberry smoothies with brown "pearls" in it. We used a spoon to scoop out the pearls as we drank the smoothie and immediately fell in love. So chewy, so sweet, so good!
Fast forward to now, and pearl milk tea, a.k.a bubble tea, a.k.a. Boba milk tea has taken the country by storm. The best thing since sliced bread was invented: the giant straw. This allowed us to sip the drink and suck up these chewy balls without needing a spoon. (And now we sell the eco-friendlier bamboo fiber straw that's big enough for Boba).
Six years ago, I moved out to California and got to experience the Boba tea explosion in person. Here's a history of the Boba tea movement from Eater Los Angeles: Boba 101: Everything You Need to Know About the Casual, Milky, Fruity Drink