Something new to give up for Lent!

Wow.  Pizza + Cinnabon = ????

A hard-working foodie at Zagat’s decided to check it out:

Since its founding in 1985, “Life Needs Frosting” has been the mantra forCinnabon, the bakery synonymous with the gold standard of cinnamon rolls worldwide. But this month, things have taken a savory turn at Atlanta’s Cumberland Mall location, a testing ground for a broader variety of products, many of them free of that famous frosting.

“This is the first full Bakery Café in the U.S. where we are repositioning the brand,” explains Kat Cole, president of Atlanta-based Cinnabon, Inc. “Everything is new – the revamped white subway-tile look, expanded beverage products and new equipment capable of crafting a broader range of product. It’s a living lab of sorts.”

The Pizzabon, a plump, uber buttery take on the classic Italian slice, was almost pulled before opening. “The concept is just so weird,” admits Cole. But despite the initial gross-out factor, the 290-calorie pepperoni-laced popper has become a surprisingly hot seller. “There’s just a little sweetness to it,” says a first time taster. “I like the yeasty, doughy taste. I unwound mine and thought the pepperoni to dough ratio was generous.”

We took a bite ourselves – ok, we ate the whole thing – and while it could have used a bit more cheese, the moist, pepperoni-spiked pillow epitomized the chain’s doughy comfort factor. It’s a viable option, if we happen to end up in a food court and decide to be bad.

Also on the menu are breakfast sandwiches and surprisingly good paninis, including a turkey and Provolone version zipped up with banana peppers and a housemade Dijon-style sauce, a “nice touch” according to one customer.

New sweet offerings include cupcakes, doughnuts and the Chocobun, a chocolate-filled cream-cheese-frosting-slathered Minibon sans the cinnamon. (Think licking the bowl when your mom makes brownies.) They’re also jumping onto the oatmeal bandwagon – or at least taking it for a test drive. Some items, like a soggy beige hash brown, have already been dropped.

“We’re not redefining who we are,” says Cole. “There’s only so much savory stuff we’re going to do. We don’t want to compromise our signature cinnamon aroma. We can never forget that.” Judging from the interest from franchisees around the country, Cinnabon fans who crave those comforting doughy pillows might be able to have it both ways.

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