Cinnamon rolls are not cinnamon buns and I am ashamed of you for even thinking so.
Sure, they are both pinwheels of dough slathered in butter, cinnamon and sugar. And they both masquerade as breakfast in places where nutrition doesn’t matter. But there, the roads diverge.
Cinnamon rolls get baked, slathered with sugar or cream cheese, and stop trying. Cinnamon buns get flipped back into their own glaze like heroes, and are pummeled mercilessly with caramel and pecans. They are what baby cinnamon rolls hope they will one day become. They are breakfast for people who don’t eat lunch and dinner. And, on the day Snickers executives were supposed to debate whether to make a Cinnamon Roll Snickers or a Cinnamon Bun Snickers, I bet they all went home early. I bet they thought that Snickers, the candy bar that markets itself for hungry people, had cinnamon bun DNA in its peanuts.
So I had big hopes, hopes as big as the trucks that pulled into the Colorado truck stop where I once had my first cinnamon bun. The light aqua packaging was sleek and encouraged these hopes, although in the glare of the turquoise neon, I overlooked some troubling details. First, the picture depicted not a cinnamon bun, but a pedestrian cinnamon roll, hinting that the Snickers executives were taking some sloppy liberties. And then there was the label’s marque, which listed, in bold letters and in explicit disappointing detail, Peanuts, Cinnamon Bun Flavored Nougat, Caramel, Milk Chocolate.
I could have, I should have, stopped there and gotten a hold of myself. This was a Snickers bar, a typically busy conglomeration of textures and flavors, in which only one player in a diverse cast would be taking on that Cinnamon Bun challenge. Yes, that colossal cinnamon bun flavor was all going to be on nougat’s shoulders. Peanuts, caramel and milk chocolate would be stepping back, letting him do all the work. And replicating a cinnamon bun is a lot of work. Poor nougat. Poor sad, sweet nougat.
You see, Snickers nougat, like some rare orchid, is a fragile and delicate thing. In your everyday Snickers bar, it is the glue that marries the dominant peanut and caramel sensations, adding a fluffy chewiness but content to not muck up the flavor profile. Discerning palates might detect a touch of molasses or a dark honey in it, but it’s strictly back seat. Cinnamon Bun Snickers hands nougat the keys.
And it’s safe to say nougat is an overly cautious driver. The same bland molasses flavor is present, but with the slightest wisp of cinnamon, resulting in a bar that has echoes of cinnamon and is even slightly sweeter than ordinary Snickers. It resembles the button down nougat we know in every other respect, but the touch of cinnamon may be enough to transform the bar into something else, but there will be a few uneducated rubes out there who buy Cinnamon Bun Snickers thinking it is a regular Snickers, and never realizing the error of their ways.
Ironically, the caramel and the peanuts, which by all appearances are no different at all from the other Snickers bars in the Snickers universe, come to the rescue, primarily because cinnamon buns also have nuts and caramel and the combination evokes them. They keep the bar from being too dramatic a disappointment.
But a slight disappointment, nonetheless. Then again, if it was as good as a regular cinnamon bun, I’d never have to go back to that truck stop in Colorado. That actually sounds like a good idea right now. OK, nougat, get back in the back seat.
Purchased Price: 88 cents
Size: 1.5 oz bar
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 200 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.