Perhaps you’re shopping at a mall, or making your way toward your gate at an airport when you’re suddenly greeted by a familiar scent: a swirl of cinnamon, sugar, and cream cheese frosting. It’s a scent that belongs to the “world famous” bakery chain Cinnabon, which opened its first shop in Seattle three decades ago. In Seattle Met, Allecia Vermillion takes us through the bakery’s origins and explains how a businessman named Rich Komen, his son Greg, and a restauranteur named Jerilyn Brusseau (nicknamed “Cinnamom”) came up with their famous cinnamon roll recipe:
The first order of business was perfecting a dough both pillowy and able to hold its shape. When rolls came out of the oven, Rich would descend from his third-floor office and thoughtfully chew one while a roomful of people watched. “I learned to fail exceedingly well,” Jerilyn remembers.
Batch after batch. Rejection after rejection. “I can’t tell you how many times I tried something and said, ‘This is fantastic!’” Greg remembers. “Dad would come in and spit it out.” Always with insightful commentary, of course.
A major breakthrough came courtesy of their spice supplier, who pointed out that cinnamon isn’t just cinnamon. Like wine or coffee, there are different varieties, and cinnamon from different regions, even different elevations, yield their own distinct flavors. Rich asked a rep to school the group on this seemingly innocuous baking spice. They landed on Korintje cinnamon, harvested from the bark of trees that grow at very high elevations in Sumatra. It delivers cinnamon’s familiar punch, but tends toward the sweet and amiable, rather than that devilish bite that punctuates red hots or schnapps.
Here, at last, was Rich Komen’s elusive cinnamon hit.