Some argue that smell is the most powerful of the six senses (smell, taste, touch, hearing, seeing, and seeing dead people). Nature is rife with animals that use scent to scare off predators, attract pollinating insects or seduce potential mates. Some animals even use scent to draw in victims for the kill.
The Cinnabon is such an animal.
Most of my Snacktaku reviews have been the product of weeks of painstaking research. I use the copious Snacktaku research budget to fly to national snack company headquarters or commission expeditions to discover the ancient origins of the foodstuffs I'm taking to task. It's grueling. It's dangerous. Two people died researching the McGangbang review, and they weren't the first.
This review, however, is the result of two tweets. The first, sent by myself, was issued during a layover in Phoenix, Arizona (city slogan: dammit, just...dammit) on the way to San Diego for Comic-Con 2012. It read, quite simply:
"I just ate a Cinnabon and I do not feel very good."
The second Tweet, in response to the first, comes from Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton.
"Nobody feels good at any point during the Cinnabon experience."
Surely this couldn't be true. At some point in the Cinnabon experience this doughy, icing-covered monstrosity must have seemed like a good idea, right?
Make no mistake: cinnamon is an amazing thing. The spice that launched a thousand things that taste vaguely like cinnamon, it never fails to add a warm zing to any product graced with its presence. When most people hear the phrase "sugar and spice and everything nice", they aren't generally thinking paprika (though they'd be right).
Dough is also a wonderful thing. It can be crafted in any shape or size, textured from flaky to thick and chewy, and holds flavor like nobody's business.
And icing. Where would we be without icing? Sitting right where we are right now, our lives depressingly icing-less, that's where.
Humans have been combining these three things since the early days of all three things being on hand at once. Small spirals of warm sweetness have been a staple of more extravagant breakfasts around the world for centuries. Note the emphasis on the word "small".
Cinnabon was first opened in the Seattle, Washington, suburb of Federal Way on December 4, 1985, by someone who felt that a small amount of these things couldn't compare to a large amount of these things. The concept took off, and today Cinnabon operates more than 750 bakeries (using the term incredibly loosely) in more than 30 countries around the globe.
They aren't kidding about the world famous bit
The company is headquartered in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Incidentally, that's also the city I live in, so when they read this my life is pretty much forfeit. That's the price I pay for my snacktual integrity.
Cinnabon Classic Stats
Calories from Fat 320
Total Fat 36g
Total Carbohydrates 127g
Dietary Fiber 2g
In my professional medical opinion I have no idea what those numbers represent, but they seem sinister.
I would never accuse the Cinnabon of looking anything less than delicious.
Just look at that. That looks like something you'd want to eat. You might even want two. You see this and your mouth waters. You smell it, and you begin to drool. It's not Pavlovian conditioning, it's ancestral memory. This is what good tastes like, according to every part of you not actively involved with eating a Cinnabon.
Those parts are stupid.
At the Phoenix airport (which probably has an official name that's nowhere near as apt as Fuck It's Hot International) I did not have time to record the eating of my Cinnabon, as my flight was boarding. I only purchased it because every other food place in the terminal had a much longer line, a sure sign that something was about to go horribly wrong.
I figured I could find a YouTube video of someone enjoying a Cinnabon, but I cannot find any. This is because one does not enjoy a Cinnabon. One puts the Cinnabon in one's mouth, chews as sparingly as possible, and then continues until the snack is no longer visible. Even the tiniest crumb amplifies the dismal feeling that accompanies devouring one of these paradoxical bakery creations.
It should be good. Each bite should be a warm wave of cinnamon sugary goodness on a soft pillow of sweet bread. In some dreamy parallel dimension there's a franchise cinnamon roll bakery that delivers just that.
But here, in the real world, the brain reigns supreme, and the brain knows this is too much sweet for your system. The word "cloying" was coined by someone feeling mildly nauseous after daring a second bite. Your hunger may be ready, but your common sense is screaming, screaming, screaming. Screaming despite every other sense assuring you that this will be something beautiful.
Is the answer splitting the gargantuan roll with a friend? No, because then the mild discomfort is replaced with guilt, which manifests in much the same way. This is not a snack you should eat if you want to feel good about yourself.
How can an experience so horrible maintain more than 750 stores worldwide? I see two reasons.
Have you ever given a dog a clove of garlic? The garlic smells good to the dog. He wants it. He takes it in his mouth. He bites into it. He spits it out — raw garlic cloves are too much for his canine senses to handle. Five seconds later he's sniffing it again.
And two? Without Cinnabon our malls would all smell like Hot Topic.
So thank you, Cinnabon, for keeping us from having to suffer the oily stench of acne and ironic t-shirts. No thank you, however, for your signature dish.
Snacktaku is Kotaku's take on the wild and wonderful world of eating things, but not eating meals. Eating meals is for those with too much time on their hands. Past critiques can be found at the Snacktaku review archive.