Yes, there really is a Grandma Ruth. And yes, her claim to make “old-fashioned cinnamon rolls” is valid. She wasn’t in the kitchen the day I stopped by, but her son was; and he was happy to discuss family history, baking, and the state of things in Branson, Missouri.
About the rolls, which are impeccably fresh: they’re fairly big, but not humongous like so many other big buns in this region. But if they aren’t the biggest, they are the best. Their tender dough is fleecy, and although substantial, they are not heavy. In other words, they are very easy to eat.
Cinnamon rolls are the full extent of the menu, a few different varieties available each day. I am especially fond of the caramel roll, which is extra buttery. A raspberry cheesecake roll looks normal, with just a hint of red fruit peeking out the top, but once you fork into it, you find strata of fruit and creaminess that make it over-the-top luxurious.
Big cinnamon rolls are popular wherever tourists go — there might be a half-dozen places in Branson that make a big deal of them — but I got a clue as to why Grandma Ruth’s are the best. Her son revealed that the family is not originally from around here, but hail from Iowa. Iowa, of course, is the cinnamon roll capital of the known world.