Taylor Swift & The World’s Most Expensive Cinnamon Rolls

love opportunity cost

January 3, 2024

Would you bake your new love a $35,000 cinnamon bun? 
Quoting Cleveland Browns legend Bernie Kosar, the New York Post reports that Taylor Swift cooked homemade cinnamon rolls for her boyfriend Travis Kelce on September 24.
They might be the most expensive cinnamon rolls in the history of the world.
A quick estimate of the value of an hour of Taylor Swift’s time shows why. Billboard reports that as of December 7, Taylor Swift had grossed $1.82 billion from concerts, merchandise, and other sources. That’s a little under $208,000 for each of 2023’s 8760 hours. 
A quick Google for “how long does it take to make cinnamon rolls from scratch” turns up this recipe for a dozen cinnamon rolls that “are warm and ready in under 2 hours, require simple ingredients, and are made completely by hand.” It would cost the Anti-Hero $416,000 worth of time to spend two hours making a dozen cinnamon rolls. 
That comes to almost $35,000 per cinnamon roll. Adam Smith might not approve. In Book 4, Chapter 2 of The Wealth of Nations, he writes
“It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy. The taylor does not attempt to make his own shoes, but buys them of the shoemaker. The shoemaker does not attempt to make his own clothes, but employs a taylor. The farmer attempts to make neither the one nor the other, but employs those different artificers.”
Were he alive today, he might write that the pop star does not attempt to make her own cinnamon rolls, but employs a baker.
But Adam Smith was a pretty comprehensive moral philosopher and social scientist. Is Taylor Swift wasting her time in the kitchen? Maybe: Just like Lionel Messi “wasting” his time shopping at Publix, becoming a news item for making cinnamon rolls might be part of the job.
If you’re trying to establish a “mutual sympathy of sentiments” with someone, a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls should do the trick. First, they’re costly. As measured by Swifties’ willingness to pay for albums, concert tickets, and merchandise, Taylor Swift’s time is one of the world’s most valuable resources. 
Second, they’re hard to fake. Maybe they’re not that hard, but Taylor Swift strikes me as someone who naturally desires not only to be loved, but to be lovely, and faking dirty dishes and a dirty kitchen while trying to pass off something from Cinnabon as “made from scratch” is probably more trouble than just making them herself–and attempting something so treacherous might have Travis Kelce writing break-up songs and singing about how they are never ever ever getting back together
Third, they establish a mutual sympathy of sentiments by saying “I know and value you” more than a stack of cash would. As Anthony Gill and Michael Thomas explain, gift-giving is “the gift that keeps on giving” because gifts weave social fabric in ways stacks of cash don’t.
Are Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce a love story for the ages? Maybe. Maybe not. But if Tay Tay is looking for a way to show Travis Kelce she’s serious, the world’s most expensive cinnamon rolls are a pretty good way to do it.

(Smith might also warn us about admiring celebrities too much!)

Want to read more?
Joy Buchanan's Taylor Swift's Anti-Hero as a Smithian Anthem  
Renee Wilmeth's What Adam Smith Ate: Hogmanay and The Black Bun
Cynthia Argentine and Julianna Argentine's Adam Smith Knew Why We’d Love Jane Austen