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Can You Name The Person Who Designed The First Gingerbread Man?

Many people are familiar with the gingerbread house at Christmas time, however, some delicious gingerbread cakes, bars, biscuits, and cookie recipes are perfect any time of the year.

Each year on June 5, gingerbread lovers across the nation observe National Gingerbread Day, a day created to bring attention to gingerbread.

  • 2400 BC – A gingerbread recipe originates in this period.
  • 992 – This sweet is introduced to Europe by an Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, who teaches French priests how to cook it.
  • 10th Century – The Chinese develop their own recipes using this spice.
  • 1150 AD – The word “gingerbread” comes from the Old French “gigembras,” which means “gingered food.” In Middle English (which was spoken from approximately 1150 to 1450 A.D.), the term became “gyngebreed,” and that evolved into “gingerbread.” Today, we use “gingerbread” to describe a range of sweet treats that combine ginger with honey, treacle, or molasses.
  • 1444 – Sources indicate that in 1444, Swedish nuns were baking gingerbread to ease indigestion.
  • 15th Century – At this time, gingerbread is a soft cake made from molasses and ginger — it is not being widely consumed yet.
  • 16th Century – In the 16th century, Gingerbread was used to create new displays by pressing the rolled dough into carved wooden molds before baking.  It often showed the portrait of a new king, a religious symbol or some other important image.
  • 17th Century – In the 17th century, gingerbread biscuits were sold in monasteries, pharmacies, and town square farmer’s markets.
  • 17th Century – Cutout gingerbread was used to teach children the alphabet during the 17th century.
  • 18th Century – During the 18th century, gingerbread became widely available.
  • 1796 – The first known American cookbook, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, published in 1796, included recipes for three different types of gingerbread, including a soft variety.
  • 19th Century – The gingerbread house became popular in Germany after the Brothers Grimm published their fairy tale collection which included “Hansel and Gretel” in the 19th century.
  • 1812 – With a house made from sweets in this fairy tale, who could resist mimicking the story and trying to make their own gingerbread house?
  • 1875 – “The Gingerbread Boy,” the story of a boy-shaped gingerbread cookie who brags to everyone he meets that they can’t catch him, first appeared in a children’s periodical called St. Nicholas Magazine. Thus, were born the human-shaped gingerbread cookies we know and love today.
  • 1929 – Gingerbread has been a first lady tradition since Martha Washington. Mrs. Washington and, later, Dolley Madison both had fabled recipes for soft gingerbread cake, it was Lou Hoover, who served as the first lady from 1929 to 1933, who started using hard gingerbread as decoration for the White House Christmas tree, a tradition future first ladies continued.
  • 2013 – the Guinness World Records awarded a club in Texas for having the world’s largest gingerbread house. At approximately 18m x 13m x 3m (height), it’s big enough to comfortably house a family of five. For those of you interested, the house is a mere 35,823,400 calories.
  • The term “gingerbread” originally referred to preserved ginger, later referring to a confection made up of honey and spices. 
  • Gingerbread is a sweet food that typically uses honey or molasses rather than just sugar and is flavored with ginger. Gingerbread foods range from a soft, moist loaf cake to something closer to a ginger biscuit.
  • Ginger is a plant native to India and China that is prized throughout the world for its culinary and medicinal uses.
  • Queen Elizabeth I is believed to be responsible for the first gingerbread man as she made them resemble visiting dignitaries and then presented them to the dignitaries as a gift.
  • English gingerbread is a dense, spice cake or bread that can include mustard, pepper, raisins, apples or nuts.
  • At first, European gingerbreads were only made by Catholic monks, who usually created them in the form of angels and saints.
  • According to the Swedish tradition, you can make a wish using gingerbread. First, put the gingerbread in your palm and then make a wish. You then have to break the gingerbread with your other hand. If the gingerbread breaks into three, the wish will come true.
  • A doctor once wrote a prescription for gingerbreads for the Swedish King Hans, to cure his depression.
  • Unmarried women in England have been known to eat gingerbread “husbands” for luck in meeting the real thing.
  • Folk medicine practitioners would create gingerbread men for young women to help them capture the man of their dreams. If she could get him to eat it, then it was believed he would fall madly in love with her.
  • Nuremberg, Germany has the title, “Gingerbread Capital of the World”.
  • Shakespeare appreciated the value of gingerbread, with a quote from his play, Love’s Labour’s Lost, saying: “An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy ginger-bread.” 
  • Records show that George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington, served her home-baked soft gingerbread to the Marquis de Lafayette when he visited her home in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
  • You can actually have dinner inside a gingerbread house.  The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain in Tucson, Arizona, takes the hotel lobby gingerbread village a step further with this life-size gingerbread house that anyone can book for a private lunch or dinner during the holiday season. It ain’t cheap: Lunch will run you $250, while dinner will cost you $300. But you’ll get to say you had a lovely meal inside a structure made with 850 pounds of sugar. And no you’re not allowed to start munching on the walls at any point.
  • The first gingerbread house wasn’t incorporated into White House decor, however, until the Nixon administration. Since then, gingerbread villages have grown into a White House Christmas tradition.
  • Traditions Golf Club in Texas is in the Guinness Book of Records for creating the world’s largest gingerbread house, which can comfortably house a family of five.


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