Turns out Cinnabon's infamous scent is a deliberate and methodical plan to convince you to buy cinnamon rolls. According to the Wall Street Journal, the bakery chain really wants to lure customers in with the smell and employs many tactics to do so: The stores are located in malls and airports on purpose so that the "smells can linger," cinnamon rolls are baked every 30 minutes at minimum, and to keep the scent in the air, some stores even warm up sheets of cinnamon and brown sugar.
Ovens are also placed near the front of the store so that the smell "escapes" when employees open the oven doors. Kat Cole, the president of Cinnabon, tells the WSJ that sales were dropped "significantly" when ovens were put in the back at a test location. Franchisees of the bakery are also told to buy the "weakest hood possible" that is legal for their ovens. The breakfast sandwiches that Cinnabon sells feature ingredients like maple syrup and cheddar cheese because they "compliment the smell of the rolls." The chain is also very careful about competing scents and actively avoids garlic and onion.
Not everyone is a fan of the strong Cinnabon Smell: Cole notes that in the chain's lease agreements with malls there are "aroma restrictions" which limits the area in which Cinnabon can set up shop. A franchisee tells the WSJ that during lease negotiations he finds wiggle room within "the landlord's reasonable judgment." Or maybe mall owners are just bewitched with that cinnamon sugar smell, too.
Cinnabon is also concerned with spreading their scent beyond its franchised store fronts through line of licensed products like its Cinnabon Vodka. Cole notes, "When you smell it out of the bottle it smells like cream-cheese frosting, which is what our cinnamon rolls smell like." And for those that want the Cinnabon scent wherever they go there's even a Cinnabon air freshener.