Fifth Season Cinnamon is the cheapest by far, at 21 cents/oz. Its color was more brown than anything else. It also had a slightly grittier texture. Its smell was clearly half as pungent as the other samples.
Fresh Market's bulk cinnamon costs 62 cents/oz. Its color was closer to orange than red. It had the finest texture of all the samples. It had a strong, clean cinnamon smell.
Watkins cinnamon boasts the highest price: $1.17/oz in the signature tin. Its color was closer to red than brown. The aroma was close--if not identical--to the bulk cinnamon.
But what about the flavor? We buttered some toast and sprinkled each slice with an even amount. After clearing our palates (my, aren't we fancy!), we tested a little of each raw cinnamon, too. As we suspected from its smell, the Fifth Season cinnamon had the least flavor by far. I suspect this brand and its cohort, Encore, are older spices repackaged for the discount market. I still buy them occasionally. However, leafy seasonings and spices which should be potent are more of a gamble. After all, cinnamon rolls are defined by their cinnamon flavor.
We were undecided between the bulk cinnamon and the Watkins brand. Both had a similarly great cinnamon taste. For half the cost, I think the bulk cinnamon is the better value, particularly if your store offers consistent, fresh quality. With the Watkins cinnamon, you are paying extra for the (incredibly cute, old-fashioned) tin.
I'll admit, I'm a sucker for fancy food purveyors like Watkins. Madagascar vanilla isn't something I'd buy for myself, but these small luxuries make great gifts. Easy to mail, consumable, and under $10, gourmet ingredients beat body lotion any day!