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DRIVE-BY DINING

Sweet tooth battle

February 08, 2007|Dog Davis | Special to The Times

MCDONALD'S is touting its new Cinnamon Melts by claiming, "It's only the centers of the cinnamon roll, where the warm icing and cinnamon reach their peak of gooey goodness."

Sound familiar? Nine years ago, Burger King used nearly the same pitch to introduce its bite-size Cini-minis. "Cini-minis are the heart of the cinnamon roll, served hot with icing on the side," proclaimed a 1998 news release. What it really meant was, "Think Cinnabon, but smaller."

The Cinnamon Melts and the Cini-minis may share common advertising language, but the products themselves couldn't be more different.

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McDonald's Cinnamon Melts versus Burger King's Cini-minis

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Taste

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Cinnamon Melts***

Served piping hot from the microwave, the Cinnamon Melts are moist and cinnamon-y, larger than expected and easily live up to the "gooey goodness" they proclaim.

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Cini-minis0

Cini-minis are four hard cinnamon nuggets that come with a dish of icing. The nuggets are bland and the icing is dry.

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Portability

Cinnamon Melts**

Not driver friendly. The Melts come in a box marked in bold type, "CAUTION / HANDLE WITH CARE / I'M HOT." They come with a plastic fork to keep your fingers from scalding.

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Cini-minis**

Though easily handled with the fingers, problems occur when you try to dip the minis into the icing. The icing's so hard you squish the rolls and bits of flaky pastry crumble everywhere.

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Diet Watch

Cinnamon Melts*

There are 580 calories in McDonald's Melts. Is that a lot? Put it this way, a Big Mac has 540.

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Cini-minis**

An order of Cini-minis with frosting has only 500 calories but ties the Cinnamon Melts with 20 grams of fat.

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Cinnamon Melts

Hype-o-meter*

The Cinnamon Melts' biggest problem is not one of taste but of grammar. Much like the McGriddles breakfast sandwich, the Cinnamon Melts are always, needlessly, plural. It's "Melts," not "Melt." Cini-minis are plural, but there are four to an order. You get one "Melts" to an order. That's just dumb.

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Cini-minis***

The King introduced Cini-minis by giving out free samples. Four million people tried them and were surely underwhelmed, but since the superior Cinnabons are sold mostly in malls and rarely during breakfast, customers have kept the minis on the BK menu for nearly nine years.

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Winner: When it comes to taste, Mac's Melts easily kick BK's minis to the curb.

* Ratings are on a scale of zero (lowest) to four (best).

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