“Please don’t do that.”
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Last month, Cinnabon President Kat Cole warned BuzzFeed that’s what she tells people who ask about eating a Cinnabon and drinking the new Pinnacle Cinnabon Vodka at the same time.
But it was too late for me. I’d heard about the Cinnabon-flavored vodka and had already poured a shot of it over an 880-calorie Cinnabon and taken a bite. The booze-saturated “gut bomb” tasted like cinnamon and caramel, barely-cooked dough and cream cheese, vodka and vanilla.
I felt myself getting flush. Was it the liquor or the sugar? I wondered if I was getting Cinnacrunk.
This month, Cinnabon Vodka makes its debut in limited markets, and on January 1, 2014, it will be available nationwide to an eager audience. A 750 ml blue bottle will set you back $12.99.
Cinnabon is expected to generate $1B in global retail sales this year and has found success licensing its brand (see: Cinnabon Cream of Wheat, Cinnabon candles, Cinnabon Minibons at Burger King), expanding its 1,100 stores into 58 countries (including Pakistan, Syria, and Russia, and it was the first U.S. franchise to open in post-revolution Tripoli, Libya), and now joining forces with Beam Inc.’s Pinnacle to enter the $5B vodka category (flavored vodka is “America’s favorite spirit”‘s fastest moving segment, growing at 20% annually).
“It’s almost pornographic,” Cinnabon president Kat Cole, 35, says of the bun’s obscene appeal. Cole got her start in the food industry as a Hooters waitress. By 26, she was a Hooters vice president. Now 35, Cole is banking on the “cocktail-in-a-bottle” market.
And it seems Cinnabon Vodka is aimed squarely at women.
(My husband on the Pinnacle Cinnabon Vodka bottle: “It’s not very masculine.” My husband on the taste of Pinnacle Cinnabon Vodka: “It tastes like a Cinnabon schnapps.” My husband on the one condition under which he would pay for Pinnacle Cinnabon Vodka: “It’s a drink I would get on a date for a girl.”)
Last year, Cole admitted to the Wall Street Journal, “We will never stand for the epitome of health,” and this year, she told the Daily Beast that she killed a previous initiative to lower the bun’s astronomical calorie count. Cinnabon vodka may not taste exactly like a Cinnabon, but 1.5 ounces has a mere 150 calories. A Cinnabon Classic has 36 grams of fat; Cinnabon vodka has none. Ad Age points out that Pinnacle has done well selling sexed up flavored vodkas to the ladies. Pinnacle’s tagline is “It’s more fun on top,” and a commercial for Pinnacle Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka is something of a woman’s erotic dream. Racy Cinnabon Vodka drink recipes include one for Bottomless Buns. A social media-driven #iwantpinnaclecinnabonvodka tour is making its way across the country.
In the meantime, women are weighing in on Facebook.
“Are you kidding!? This is the greatest thing that ever happened to humanity!” one screeched.
“Throwing up already,” groaned another.
Focus Brands Inc., which owns Cinnabon, is rumored to be contemplating an IPO.
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