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Cinnabon launched its ‘first-ever’ non-cinnamon baked good. Here’s my honest review

Can a Cinnabon without the "cinna" be a winna?

An original Cinnabon is a culinary marvel. The center, a perfect trio of pillowy soft dough, sweet cream cheese icing and, of course, a unique blend of cinnamon combine to form a tasty bite much more than the sum of its parts. That’s why when I heard that Cinnabon released a new item that — gasp! — didn’t have cinnamon in it, I was surprised, intrigued and curious to try it out for myself.

The item, Chocolate BonBites, is a new, chocolaty version of an item already on the menu, Cinnabon BonBites. It's described by the company as the "first-ever baked treat in U.S. bakeries that does not feature the brand’s famous cinnamon flavoring." This version takes Cinnabon’s classic dough and replaces its buttery cinnamon mixture with rich chocolate spread throughout the roll. To top it off, Cinnabon adds more chocolate and drizzles on a touch of the original cream cheese frosting we all know and love. 

The limited-time item will be offered until Sept. 11 in a 4-count pack for $4.79 and a shareable 16-count pack, enough for any Independence Day potlucks patrons may be attending over the long weekend.

“We’re a bakery-inspired brand, and that gives us the permission to experiment and get creative with new and popular dessert flavors, such as chocolate, within our treats,” said Cinnabon’s vice president of marketing Michael Alberici in a press release. He adds chocolate is a classic, familiar flavor that Cinnabon fans love, but the question on my mind remains: will I know and love this as much as their flagship item?

Looking at the images of Cinnabon's latest invention, I’m transported into a dream world of sweet upon sweet, creamy frosting atop molten chocolate. Who would ever miss a little cinnamon with something this deeply delectable-looking? Well, I regret to inform you that the answer is: me.

First, a disclaimer: At my local Cinnabon, my order of four BonBites looked pretty nice behind the clear glass of Cinnabon’s display case, very similar to the perfection I was picturing. When I took my order to go, however, it was placed inside of a logo-emblazoned sleeve made out of butcher paper that appears to be created for the item. I was expecting a bit of wear and tear, but when I got home and unwrapped my delicious dessert treat, it looked a bit less appetizing than I would have preferred it to be.

My Chocolate BonBites after a trip home in the car.
My Chocolate BonBites after a trip home in the car. Joseph Lamour / NBC

As for the taste of these chocolaty treats, I’m thrilled to report that there are many positives. The chocolate Cinnabon uses has as complex a flavor as its proprietary cinnamon mix, which is a plus. The flavor of the chocolate is a bit deeper than the milk chocolate found in most food chain desserts and not too sweet, either. They did a stellar job there. 

The tagline Cinnabon uses for the item is "chocolate hits different." While those words are true for some, I felt there was something missing, especially since I’m so familiar with the sort of cinnamon-forward Cinnabon I’ve been ordering for decades.

In fact, out of curiosity, I sprinkled a little cinnamon on my BonBites and took a bite. Unsurprisingly, I enjoyed it a little bit more than how Cinnabon offers it, tasting to me like a cinnamon-chocolate churro. This probably wasn’t the ultimate goal, so I understand the bakery juggernaut not including cinnamon.

This isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate the creators of my favorite treats stepping outside of the cinna-box every once in a while. Cinnabon is no stranger to desert innovation, either, coming out with a Cinnabon stuffed into a chocolate cookie a few years back. (Can y'all bring that back?!)

Ultimately, for lovers of chocolate, these Chocolate BonBites are definitely worth trying out. Pretty much every item on the mall bakery’s menu are solidly good, to be sure, but in all honesty, I’m glad I also ordered a Center of the Roll along with the limited-time chocolate treat.

Bottom line: I appreciate the variety, Cinnabon, even if the Chocolate BonBites aren't right for me. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the food coma that lays ahead for me as I dig in to my second Cinnabon treat of the day after I have salad for dinner.