How Cinnabon plans to give you the taste, minus the guilt


At 880 calories, one regular Cinnabon classic roll is big enough for a meal—or two.

Focus Brands-owned Cinnabon has earned a loyal following in indulgence eating, but it is readying for a new push: "small being the new big," Cinnabon President Joe Guith told CNBC in an interview.

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"I can't tell you how many times I've talked to people who say, 'I love Cinnabon but please keep it away from me,' " Guith said.

Cinnabon Bites
Source: Cinnabon

"To the extent that people start to feel they can engage with the brand in a way they don't feel as guilty about it, that's a breakthrough for us. That's huge," he added.

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To cut down on the guilt factor, the chain is doubling down on its Cinnabon Bites. Approximately half of its bakeries now offer the bite-size versions of its original roll topped with cream cheese frosting or frosting, caramel and pecans.

Additionally, the chain is testing a variety of new indulgent flavors. Those include s'mores, wild berry, Oreo, birthday cake and maple bacon (for the savory-meets-sweet fans) at a location in Virginia.

Breakfast and beyond

Cinnabon, sweet smell of success

Other savory items are also being considered, such as the recent introduction of sausage bites at Pilot and Flying J travel centers, select airports and entertainment venues.

Many travel locations, which have a more robust early-morning business than the typical mall, and co-branded locations with Auntie Anne's, are also selling breakfast sandwiches and paninis. But mall-based locations could also see breakfast sandwiches and sausage bites debut as early as later this year, Guith said.

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For the nearly 30-year old chain with more than $1 billion in sales, this initial move into savory and breakfast could be just the start.

"I think we are still yet defining the boundaries of the brand so we have a long way to run," Guith said. "This is our first real foray, big push, into savory, and I think we have a long way to go on that."