News & Politics

This DC-Area Woman Used to Hate Being Named Cinnamon. But It’s the Reason Why She’s a Model in This New McCormick Campaign.

"I mean, pumpkin spice wouldn't exist without cinnamon, if we're being honest."

Photo courtesy of McCormick.

Growing up, Cinnamon Bowser hated her first name. But now the 49-year-old Woodbridge, Virginia resident is a model in a major ad campaign because of it.

To celebrate the holiday season and all the cinnamon-flavored treats that come with it, Maryland-based company McCormick Spice has launched a line of cinnamon-themed swag. (Think tote bags reading “Pumpkin spice? Never heard of her. -Cinnamon” and t-shirts with “Cinnamon spice is my favorite season-ing” on them.) And the models are a part of the cinna-celebration, too: All of them are women named Cinnamon.

Bowser—who went to George Washington, runs the mobile nail boutique Nail Taxi, and is a mother of three—was named after a character on the original Mission Impossible TV show, which her parents watched weekly. But as a kid, it made things hard—especially as a tall girl.

“I was called ‘cinnamon stick,’ ‘cinnamon toothpick,'” says Bowser. “Nothing mean, but just enough to think, ugh, why is this my name?

Bowser says she remembers writing in her diary about how she’d legally change her name as an adult, switching to something conventional like Christy or Jennifer. “At that age, I wasn’t interested in standing out,” says Bowser. “I wanted to blend in with everyone else.”

The first time she recalls feeling proud of her name was in seventh grade Spanish class. Her teacher wanted everyone to pick a Spanish name, and while all the Christys and Jennifers had to pick an entirely new moniker, Bowser could just translate hers directly into Spanish—canela. “I thought that was pretty cool,” she says.

Slowly, as everyone else began to catch up in height and she grew more confident, she began to embrace her status as a Cinnamon. “It was just a natural evolution for me,” she says. “And I said this is a-okay. I’m not going to change my name. I’m going to ride this thing out.

Until a year-and-a-half ago, Bowser had only heard of two other people named Cinnamon. That is, until her friends met a gas station cashier named Cinnamon while on a road trip. The cashier told them about a Facebook group for people named Cinnamon, and once Bowser learned about it, she immediately joined.

“[It’s] a type of sorority, a private club,” she says of the group, a spot where the Cinnamons talk about what they named their kids, their favorite cinnamon products, and growing up with an unusual name.

One of the women in the Facebook group works at McCormick, and after she told her employers about the club, the company was inspired to use women named Cinnamon as models for the new line. Bowser threw her name into the ring to model, and she was selected along with several other women to go to New York and shoot the campaign.

While the perks were pretty great, Bowser says—a stay at a boutique hotel, a visit to Dominique Ansel Bakery—the best part was bonding with the other Cinnamons from around the country.

“We really hit it off,” says Bowser of the models, who started their own Cinnamon sub-group on Facebook and have plans for a reunion next year. “It’s always a gift when you get to meet somebody new and connect with them on a personal level. That’s what happened through this cinnamon campaign, and I’m really grateful for that.”

Thankfully, Bowser is a fan of her namesake. “I love a good cinnamon latte,” she says. “I love a yummy cinnamon roll. I am a fan of cinnamon toast with real butter and a little sugar.”

And of course, when it comes to spices, we had to address the elephant in the room: What are Bowser’s thoughts on pumpkin spice, the other seasoning with a cult following? “I mean, pumpkin spice wouldn’t exist without cinnamon, if we’re being honest,” she says. “I’ve always thought that in my spirit.”

As for what everyone in her family will be getting for Christmas this year? You can probably guess: “Yep,” says Bowser, “cinnamon swag.”

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.