Rule #1 of being a junk food fan: when you hear that a test product is available in your area, you give it a try. Further down on the list of rules: enjoy that product while it’s hot, especially if you are cold. Both tenets recently led me to Arby’s to check out its Cinnamon Roll Fried Pie. The test product, a fried pastry with cinnamon filling, is available at select locations for a limited time. (The chain released a similar offering — a Strawberries and Cream variety — last year.)
It feels appropriate that Arby’s would test this new dessert in my region because March marks the longest stage of my city’s annual Seemingly Endless Winter. As spring eludes us, we layer our socks, aggressively moisturize, and steel ourselves for the inevitable spring snowstorm that, like a horror movie villain, pops up for one last scare just as you think the worst is over. To survive, we need comfort food, and with this new test product, Arby’s has aimed to create a glorious trifecta of warmth and coziness: pie, fried food, and cinnamon.
Ultimately, Arby’s Cinnamon Roll Fried Pie does justice to each component of the trifecta. The fried turnover-style pastry is the crispy, crunchy star of the dessert. It is golden brown, rife with tiny air bubbles that come from the high frying temperature, and practically shatters with crispiness at the surface. Beneath the initial crunch, the dough is thin, tender, and soft, without a hint of sogginess or oily residue.
The cinnamon roll filling is flavorful and generous. I tasted a good amount of the sweetly spiced stuff in every bite. The texture surprised and mystified me. I was expecting some amount of gooey drippage, which I admit sounds more like a symptom of the cold you catch during Seemingly Endless Winter. But any cinnamon roll fan knows the stuff: the sugary, melted butter that gets absorbed within the roll’s thick, spiraling dough. The filling in this fried pie, however, reminds me of the filling before it gets baked: thick and moist, but still closer to a soft, shaggy paste in texture.
I wish I knew the recipe for the filling, but like a proud grandmother protecting her culinary secrets, Arby’s has not released that information. I’m curious as to how the filling maintains its body without feeling heavy. Ingredients I’d expect to find in a cinnamon roll, like the usual butter or cream cheese frosting suspects, don’t seem to contribute to the filling’s taste or texture. While it does taste like a cinnamon roll’s coveted center, the filling’s flavor is also a little one-note. A streak of icing might have added an extra dimension to the not-too-sweet pie.
Arby’s Cinnamon Roll Fried Pie is an inexpensive, pocket-sized treat that hits the spot, especially if you gobble it down for a warming treat at the end of a long, frigid day. Its appeal certainly extends into warmer months because, as yet another junk food rule dictates, fried stuff is comforting year-round. If this Fried Pie makes Arby’s official menu, it may become a new favorite.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to reader Dorothy for letting us know about this test item in the Erie, PA area and for the signage photo at the beginning of the review.)
Purchased Price: $1.79
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Unavailable at time of publishing.