Gingerbread Houses And The Men Who Live In Them?

By | December 13, 2019

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Gingerbread house and gingerbread men. Source: (

While it’s not uncommon to hear parents telling their children not to play with their food, there are certain traditions in which playing with food is encouraged. From gingerbread houses to the gingerbread men (who probably don’t actually live in the gingerbread houses), it seems there is just something about gingerbread that demands it be molded and decorated before being eaten.

Ginger root was originally cultivated five thousand years ago in China, where it was believed to have medicinal and magical properties, likely due to its ability to preserve flour and meat. It was later baked into crisps which, with the addition of butter and cream in the 18th century, evolved into the cookies, also called fairings due to their popularity at fairs, of Western Europe. These fairings were often decorated, much like the gingerbread houses and men today. However, the exact origin of gingerbread is uncertain.  

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Ginger snaps. Source: (wikipedia)

Some believe the first recipe emerged in Greece circa 2400 B.C. Some have traced gingerbread back to the honey cakes of ancient Greece. Others link it back only as far as 992 A.D. when an Armenian monk named Gregory of Nicopolis passed the recipe along to Christian bakers in France. A recipe for “gyngerbrede” appeared in a 15th-century cookbook but did not actually include ginger in the list of ingredients. Its texture was more like toffee than bread. Nuns in Sweden were known to bake gingerbread to relieve indigestion during the 15th century.