Real talk: Cinnabon, that foodcourt-born purveyor of tire-sized cinnamon rolls drizzled with semen milked piping hot from the royal penis of King Kandy himself, tried and failed recently to make its Classic Roll less of a pancreatic catastrophe. Even people who really didn’t go all-in for the 880-calorie baked testament to personal gluttony wanted to know that the option to humiliate themselves in mall and airport food courts across this great nation was still available to them. America’s about freedom of choice, you guys, and as far as Kat Cole, the Hooters waitress-turned-Cinnabon-president, was concerned, the people had spoken: don’t fuck with Classic Roll.
It may surprise you to know that the president of a company that makes personal cinnamon rolls for self-loathing gourmands like this
doesn’t look all that much like your average Cinnabon demographic. It certainly surprised Businessweek enough to do a profile on Cinnabon’s president Kat Cole and the direction she’s steering the company after in this era of elevated health consciousness. How do you sell a personal cake to people when the FDA and Michelle Obama and Morgan Spurlock are all warning consumers about the insidiousness of the fat, sugar, and industrial waste bits that make American cuisine so uniformly disheartening and delicious? For starters, you have to embrace the fact that you’re making doughy garbage for the customer who just doesn’t give a fuck about calorie counts. Says Cole of Cinnabon’s Classic Roll, “It’s almost pornographic. It’s just so over-the-top, it’s a sensory experience.” In other words, visiting a Cinnabon in your crumbling mall’s half-empty food court isn’t just a matter of procuring breakfast dessert — it’s like seeing an IMAX movie of your organs being bathed in warm goo (more real talk: the sweet, buttery liquid that the rolls are bathed in before they’re baked is actually referred to as “the goo”).
Cole’s climb up the food conglomerate ladder is distinctly American (or distinctly evocative of what we’re told is the distinctly American story): she started out as a waitress in a Jacksonville Hooters and was basically running that whole operation when she was 19, which won her a gig opening a Hooters in Sydney. Hooters had initially been a temporary job for Cole as she worked her way towards an engineering degree at the University of North Florida, but the company kept asking her to open more restaurants (one in Mexico, another in Argentina). She was hired by Focus Brands as chief operating officer of Cinnabon while she was working on her MBA, which she needed to keep rising through the Hooters ranks.
It’s a cool story, and Cole seems to be, as Businessweek points out, free of the sort of corporate cynicism that might prevent a Cinnabon president from boasting about how “pornographic” the company’s product is. Where the prevailing fast food urge is come up with anodyne ad campaigns meant to showcase how not completely terrible a double cheeseburger is for you, Cole has adopted a strategy that’s basically in line with everything Louis C.K. has ever told us about Cinnabon — the people who frequent Cinnabon aren’t going to be slowed down because they know the calorie count.
Cinnabon devotees are all in when it comes to treating themselves, and Cole knows her market too well not to just embrace Cinnabon’s awesome power to transform even the most well-mannered traveler into a luggage-sitting, icing-guzzling cake monster. The only thing the company should do now is, just above the blue logo at every Cinnabon location, add a little placard that reads: “Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Cinnabon President Kat Cole: Hustling the Gut Bomb [Businessweek]