The Cinnabon Cleanse

November 19, 2017 | New York, NY

If I were to picture my life as a journalist 10 years ago, as a junior at Dwight Hearst High School, I would tell you that I was going to be a war correspondent. I would tell you that I’d be brave enough to go into foreign territory, that I’d stand in the line of fire to inform viewers of God’s honest truth, that I’d be the front page byline that powerful men and women alike clambered to read every morning. I would be that good. I would be a voice that informed millions.

Either the world was that linear 10 years ago, or I was naïve in the perception of my strength. That, and the fact that the Internet exploded, print newspapers started shriveling up, and no sooner had I taken off my cap and gown post-college, that I was hired as an online pop culture reporter in New York City.

I line up these facts as I sit in the second row at the studio of the “The Dr. Oz Show.” I feel my Press badge as I prepare for what new, absurdist medical knowledge I’ll be sharing in the column this week. Nothing surprises me, and I stick to my aspirin-and-tea routine regardless of new breakthroughs audiences here seem so ready to gobble up.

Nevertheless, my pen is poised.

I watch Dr. Oz get mic’ed up. He strides onto the stage as the audience begins to cheer for him. Ah, another day, another show. Another chance to make his viewers smarter, healthier adults. He turns to face the audience.

“What if I told you that in 96 hours, you could have a better body? Would you like that?”

His voice is smooth, brisk, like morning coffee that speeds through your bloodstream. The audience (mostly females) gulps it down, cheering wildly.

“Well, I thought you might. Here to prove it, I have Kimmy Kimbon to share her brand new Cinnabon Cleanse with us! Come on out, Kimmy!”

Kimmy Kimbon walks out onto the stage and sits across Dr. Oz. She is giddy. Her face is round and friendly, and she wears her hair in a big bun. The audience cheers again.

“Nice to have you here, Kimmy. Now, this cleanse seems just too good to be true,” Dr. Oz says, on cue.

“Well, Doc Oz, as my real mother, Mrs. Fields, taught me, nothing is ever too good to be true,” Kimmy says.

Her face reminds me of my childhood. Of women on boxes of baked goods, smiling down at me, giving me their approval to go ahead, eat more, bake more, as doing so is the essence of life. As I watch her speak, I begin to feel nauseated. But Dr. Oz does not.

I would be the front page byline that powerful men and women alike clambered to read every morning. I would be that good. I would be a voice that informed millions.

“That’s a healthy perspective, if I say so myself. And I am a doctor. So it seems like the cleanse rage is getting bigger and bigger in the U.S. We have the Whole30 cleanse that’s big every year, the Master Cleanse, soup cleanses, and a little while ago, the women in California came out with an ice cream cleanse! Now here you are.”

Kimmy smiles, “Yes, yes, well, another thing my mother taught me is that you can have your cake and eat it too.”

Dr. Oz, eating it up, smiles back at her. “OK, so here are the rules, guys. The Cinnabon Cleanse is 4 days long and you eat 4 meals each day. So, Kimmy, give us the details here.”

“You got that right, Doc, that’s all it takes – 4 days. Each meal is our famous Cinnabon – which is the Makara Cinnamon topped with that oh-so-cheesy frosting, but they’ve got a little twist. For breakfast, you have the Sunny Bun. That’s the Cinnabon with maple syrup on top. Then, for lunch, you have the Lunch Bun. That’s the Cinnabon sprinkled with some bee pollen and fire salt…”

I force my vomit down. Keep writing, Soné.

“…Then you’ve got the Midday Snack Bun, which is the Cinnabon sprinkled with some cayenne pepper and lemon gumdrops.”

Dr. Oz looks slightly confused. “Huh, gumdrops. You’re right, that is an odd twist.”

Kimmy goes for the win. “And for dinner, you’ve got the healthiest Bun of all! It’s our famous Cinnabon rolled around in kale and sugar!”

The audience cheers wildly. Some women stand up to applause.

As if their approval of this diet is akin to the FDA’s, Dr. Oz beams at Kimmy. As his perfect coif reminds his audience, he is a cool doctor. “Now, Kimmy, that’s a very interesting lineup you’ve got there. But eating nothing but Cinnabons straight for four days- what kind of effects could that have on someone’s body?”

“There are a few side effects, of course. You might experience frequent bathroom trips with some discomfort. Because Cinnabons are all you’re eating, there is a 78% chance that you may excrete an entire Cinnabon during some of those bathroom visits. One may also develop a lifelong aversion to the word ‘bun,'” Kimmy says, a little too quickly.

The audience cheers wildly. Dr. Oz beams at Kimmy. As his perfect coif reminds his audience, he is a cool doctor.

The smell of the sample Cinnabon tray wafts two rows back towards my nose. I inhale all of it, unwillingly, like a jumble of cinnamon glaze, kale, cayenne pepper, breakfast syrup, and strong hairspray scrambling to the finish line that is my nostrils. I take in the absurdity of an audience that’s eyeing that very tray as their new medical savior. I feel dizzy, though to a rhythm, as Dr. Oz nods his head back and forth.

“Good to know, Kimmy, good to know. Before we finish up, would you like to tell our viewers why they should start the Cinnabon Cleanse now? After all, holiday season’s right around the corner.”

“Let me tell you, Doc, when you’re only eating Cinnabons, you stop confusing your body. It allows your fat cells to really, really flush everything out. You know, you go to the bathroom and plop, plop, plop! Out goes the fat! Plus you have fun! Who doesn’t like buns?”

The audience goes wild. More women stand up to applaud. Those who don’t, stomp their feet on their floor as they clap. The room rings with “Woo woo’s!”

I realize I have miscalculated. I am standing in foreign territory, I am informing pop culture readers of the truth and, as it turns out, the Truth has more to do with Cinnabons than I thought.

Kimmy Kimbon beams at the audience. Dr. Oz beams at Kimmy.

Then the lights fade out.