In the opening moments of last night’s Better Call Saul premiere, it’s revealed that Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman has fulfilled his bleakest self-prophecy by ending up the manager of a Cinnabon in Nebraska. The ignobility of Saul’s circumstances and the drudgery of his days are laid out for the viewer like a thick blanket of dough. Saul’s consignment to an eternity in an anonymous shopping mall is presented as a sticky purgatory—a limbo where the days loop on and on into each other like a particularly bitter cinnamon roll, and Saul feels trapped under enormous weight and full of regret, like someone who ate at Cinnabon. And now Cinnabon invites Better Call Saul fans to experience that desolation firsthand.
Today, Feb. 9, at all Cinnabon locations from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.—Cinnabon’s most shame-filled hours—you can get a free MiniBon just for showing up, in honor of the Saul premiere. That MiniBon will even reportedly come in Saul-themed packaging, as a small reminder of its connection to lives of quiet desperation. For an even bigger reminder, other Cinnabon products will still come in regular Cinnabon packaging.
“Cinnabon is an all-American brand that requires no explaining—that fact appealed to us greatly,” show creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould said of the chain that would immediately symbolize someone’s lowest ebb, thus creating a narrative shorthand.
“We loved the idea of our Saul Goodman character taking on a secret identity as the manager of a mall bakery, making a delicious product that’s well-known to everybody everywhere,” they continued. “And fortunately, the nice folks at Cinnabon allowed us to make that happen.” Indeed, Cinnabon allowed them to film the opening scene at an actual Cinnabon in Albuquerque, to capture with verisimilitude the making of that delicious product, and how it visibly saps the soul of everyone involved.
According to Linda Schupack, AMC’s executive vice president of marketing, today’s Cinnabon promotion will “entertain people by extending the experience, letting them participate and bring it into their life,” so that they, too, can discover firsthand just how depressing Cinnabon is. Meanwhile, the company is also running a Twitter contest through March 3 that asks people to tweet photos of themselves at one of its stores with the hashtag #SaulSelfie. One winner will be selected to receive free Cinnabon, day after day, for an entire year, allowing them to get a true taste of Saul’s misery for themselves.