For anyone wondering, yes, Bob Odenkirk knows how to make an authentic Cinnabon cinnamon roll.
During the penultimate episode of “Breaking Bad,” Odenkirk’s character of Saul Goodman laments having to flee Albuquerque — and give up his lucrative-yet-unscrupulous law practice — as the Feds start closing in.
“If I’m lucky, a month from now, best-case scenario, I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha,” he tells Walter White, the two of them standing in the basement of a vacuum-repair shop, waiting to be given new identities and placed in hiding.
At the time, it was a silly, seemingly throwaway line. But after Cinnabon expressed their excitement at being name-dropped on one of the most critically lauded series on TV, the production team at AMC went ahead and built upon the idea for “Better Call Saul,” its then-upcoming prequel series.
“Following that line, our social media team quickly tweeted at Bob Odenkirk and shared a link to our careers page,” Michael Alberici, the VP of marketing at Cinnabon, told Nexstar. Alberici added that Cinnabon and AMC’s relationship eventually “evolved” to the point that the company was actually working with the production on “Better Call Saul.”
“We never imagined that line and our social media response would have led to being involved at the level we have been,” he said.
But Cinnabon didn’t just give permission for “Better Call Saul” to use its name and logo. In helping to add a more authentic touch to the series, actual Cinnabon operations employees have been present during every Cinnabon-set scene on “Better Call Saul” since the show’s inception.
“Our operations team members are on-site for every season and prepare the bakery set, real product, and help coach Bob and the other actors,” Alberici said.
The scenes are also filmed in a former Cinnabon bakery in an Albuquerque mall, though the space has been closed to the public for years.
“Each season, Cinnabon stocked it to look like a functioning bakery by shipping in equipment, packaging, product, etc. and bringing it back to life,” according to Alberici.
In earlier seasons, real-life Cinnabon employees played extras in the bakery scenes, but that’s no longer the case. These days, Saul Goodman’s co-workers — sorry, Gene Takavic’s co-workers — are merely actors portraying Cinnabon employees.
Despite having representatives on set during filming, Alberici said Cinnabon’s team members know only “what will be shot” during the bakery scenes, and are never given access to the full scripts or story arcs, in order to keep the plot of each episode a secret. A representative for AMC confirmed that while Cinnabon’s reps are indeed on the set, they do not know how those scenes will figure into the season.
“We are surprised, just as every viewer is when the season airs,” Alberici said.
In fact, it’s very likely that Odenkirk knows more about Cinnabon than Cinnabon knows about “Better Call Saul” and its plotlines.
In a 2016 interview, Odenkirk told Conan O’Brien that very early in production, he had been instructed by Cinnabon’s VP of operations in “exactly how you make a Cinnabon.”
“Debbie Rowley taught me, she’s the lady from the head office … That’s part of [“Better Call Saul” creator] Vince Gilligan’s attention to detail,” Odenkirk said.
“I not only learned the first season, but the second season, they gave me a refresher course,” he added.
Then again, none of this should come as much of a surprise. Bryan Cranston, who played meth kingpin Walter White on “Breaking Bad,” has repeatedly claimed that a chemist from the DEA coached him and fellow actor Aaron Paul in the production of crystal meth while they were appearing on the show.