Secrets Cinnabon Doesn't Want You To Know

It's no secret that Cinnabon has some of the best cinnamon rolls in the world. From decades of experience in baking cinnamon rolls to sourcing its own trademarked cinnamon, called Makara, this bakery chain has plenty to boast about to its customers. In fact, Cinnabon will proudly tell you about its often-imitated, never-duplicated icing or the fact that the company sells about a billion cinnamon rolls annually. But what is it that makes Cinnabon so irresistible? Why do you crave it upon entering a shopping mall? What's the deal with those cans of Cinnabon x Pillsbury cinnamon rolls at the grocery store? And why do you rarely see a Cinnabon outside of a mall or airport?

There are just some things Cinnabon would prefer to keep on the down-low. This includes some clever marketing tactics that rely heavily on smell, the cost of convenience, and even a replica recipe for your own homemade Cinnabon cinnamon rolls. Here are the secrets Cinnabon doesn't want you to know.

Cinnabon stores are placed in malls and airports, rather than standalone stores, to attract passersby

Have you ever had a hankering for Cinnabon but dreaded trekking to the closest mall just to get a fresh roll? Perhaps you've wondered why there isn't a standalone Cinnabon store in your city. Wouldn't that make it more convenient for Cinnabon's customers to skip the hassle of the mall? It's no coincidence Cinnabon is located in high-traffic, enclosed areas near other shops. The company typically places its bakeries in these locations because the smell will attract passersby. Even if mall-goers or travelers were just walking by with no intention of buying a cinnamon roll, they are probably more likely to stop when they smell that sweet, gooey cinnamon.

Inside the malls and airports, Cinnabon bakeries are also arranged in a way to put the fresh, hot rolls in plain sight to further attract customers. Passersby would miss these sensory details with a standalone store, which is why most Cinnabons are in "oasis locations."

Cinnabon is trying to capture a wider audience by introducing its products to grocery stores

Now let's say you want to skip the mall but you're still craving Cinnabon. Luckily for you, you can make a quick grocery run and pick up a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls made with Cinnabon's trademarked cinnamon. And luckily for Cinnabon, the company can still capture customers, even if those customers don't want to visit one of the franchise locations.

In an analysis by students at the University of Washington, "One of the biggest complaints from Cinnabon's customers is the inaccessibility of the product/store locations. The grocery store provides Cinnabon with a channel for reaching potential customers who do not partake in the 'mall' experience."

While prices range depending on your location, Cinnabon can generate more profits by partnering with Pillsbury and selling rolls with its iconic cinnamon in grocery stores in addition to selling its own rolls in malls and airports around the world.

Ovens at Cinnabon are placed toward the front to entice customers with smell

In a 2014 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Cinnabon's then-president Kat Cole explained that scent is a huge factor in Cinnabon's business. At one test location, the company placed ovens at the back of the store. But the result led to "significantly" lower sales. As such, Cinnabon store layouts include positioning the ovens toward the front of the store. This puts the smell of hot cinnamon rolls closer to customers and allows the scent to spread to nearby areas too. Because some malls have restrictions on odors, lease contracts can sometimes limit where Cinnabon can place its stores, according to Cole.

Cole also spilled that the company recommends that franchise owners purchase weaker oven hoods — while still abiding by local laws — to prevent the delicious smell from being lost via air duct. It might be a questionable practice, but it seems to work for this company specializing in sweet treats.

Cinnabon employees can also lure customers in by baking sheets of cinnamon and brown sugar

Although Cinnabon typically has no trouble enticing people to stop and buy a roll (or six), if business seems slow, employees have a few tricks up their sleeves to generate interest. Sure, Cinnabon makes its cinnamon rolls hot and fresh by baking a new batch at least every 30 minutes. But if you are suddenly hit by a wall of sweet, cinnamon-sugar smell, it might not be the cinnamon rolls alone.

Cinnabon president Kat Cole told the Wall Street Journal that at some Cinnabon locations, employees will place trays of cinnamon and brown sugar in a hot oven. This is a quick, easy way to intensify the smell already emanating from the baking buns, causing it to linger around the food court and nearby shops to remind passersby that they should stop by the bakery to grab some fresh cinnamon rolls. Not that we would mind eating a spoonful of Cinnabon cinnamon and brown sugar, either!

Cinnabon rolls are not the healthiest snack out there

Surely no one is running to Cinnabon for a green juice and kale salad, but just how unhealthy are these decadent, indulgent cinnamon rolls? When you consider the thick, fluffy dough, gooey cinnamon and brown sugar filling, and rich cream cheese icing all held together with a "goo" made from more brown sugar, cinnamon, and margarine, it's no surprise one roll is filled with sugar and fat.

In fact, one original cinnamon roll from Cinnabon contains 880 calories — nearly half the recommended amount an average person should consume per day. It also has 37 grams of fat and 58 grams of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 25 to 36 grams of sugar daily, and the Mayo Clinic advises consuming a maximum of 44 to 78 grams of fat daily.

For comparison, one treat that comes to mind when thinking of foods high in sugar is a classic glazed donut. A Krispy Kreme original glazed donut has 11 grams of fat and 10 grams of sugar, which pales in comparison to an original roll from Cinnabon.

You can reheat your Cinnabon rolls instead of buying fresh

Maybe you bought a Cinnabon roll and couldn't finish it. Do you toss it out and run to get another one? No! Save your money by storing Cinnabon rolls on the counter before you're ready to eat them. Then, you can simply reheat a roll as desired for a short time in the microwave. While it won't have the fresh-from-the-oven taste, it will still have plenty of warmth and flavor without contributing to food waste or requiring you to spend more money. For a fresher flavor, you can even try warming up a roll in a toaster oven for a few minutes.

Even better, you can actually freeze your Cinnabon cinnamon rolls for up to a month. Save more money per roll by purchasing a larger package, then store them properly and reheat them all month long. Whenever the craving strikes, you can have a delicious Cinnabon without running to a bakery or the grocery store.

Cinnabon rolls get their iconic shape with the help of margarine, not butter

Although many people have attempted to replicate Cinnabon's cinnamon rolls, there are a few things that leave them coming up short. The cream cheese icing is tricky to duplicate, and the trademarked Makara cinnamon is also responsible for the classic Cinnabon flavor. But there's another reason so many recipes are literally coming up flat — literally.

Have you ever noticed the sheer size of a Cinnabon roll? How do they get not just the width but the height on those rolls? Most cinnamon roll recipes on the internet call for filling the rolls with butter, but Cinnabon's secret to the perfect shape is actually margarine.

The dough is made with butter, but before adding the original blend of cinnamon and brown sugar, employees smear margarine across the dough. According to executives, the margarine helps the dough maintain its shape thanks to its higher melting point. With a higher melting point, the margarine stays in place, preventing the filling from oozing out of the dough and preventing the dough from spreading out too wide.

'Center of the Roll' at Cinnabon is actually half of a full bun cut up and mixed together

The center of a cinnamon roll is a coveted bite. It is typically the most flavorful piece of the roll since it's packed with filling, the dough is extra-soft, and the icing really soaks into the middle. To capitalize on this opportunity, Cinnabon began selling a product called "Center of the Roll" in 2010. Although it started as a limited-time offer, this item became so popular that it is now a menu staple.

"The Center of the Roll treats allow us to continue offering the same great Cinnabon taste in a variety of ways," said Gary Bales, former president of Cinnabon. "Guests often crave the middle portion of our famous rolls, so we created these portable, melt-in-your-mouth products as delicious, exciting ways for Cinnabon fans to put some frosting on their day."

So you might begin to wonder what Cinnabon is doing with the exterior of the cinnamon rolls. But Reddit users reveal a bit of sorcery behind "Center of the Roll" — allegedly, it is really just half of a regular Cinnabon roll mixed around and put in a special container.

The company's description of the roll doesn't dispute this claim, either. "The Center of the Roll consists of bite-sized pieces of baked sweet dough featuring Makara Cinnamon and brown sugar, and smothered with cream cheese frosting."

You don't have to go to Cinnabon at all

Sure, you can stock up on Cinnabon and store it in the freezer for a month. Or you can make a quick run to the grocery store for the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls made with Makara cinnamon. But if you really want that fresh, homemade flavor and the opportunity to save a few bucks, why not try making a copycat recipe at home?

There are many dupes available on the internet these days, but we decided to get to work in our test kitchen and found a not-so-secret recipe for copycat Cinnabon cinnamon rolls that is sure to impress your tastebuds. With pillow-soft dough, gooey cream cheese icing, and an impossibly soft and sweet center of cinnamon and brown sugar filling, these will definitely satisfy that craving for Cinnabon. You can even freeze these homemade cinnamon rolls to bake later, meaning you may never have to run to the mall for Cinnabon again!