Remember the fairy tale about the man-shaped gingerbread cookie that sprang from the oven and ran off to elude a trail of hungry captors before he was eventually devoured by a wily fox? The story, first published in America in 1875 in a children’s magazine called St. Nicholas, has become a classic.
According to Saveur magazine, The notion of edible animal and human figurines goes back to ancient celebrations in which they were used as substitutes for live sacrifices. More recently, on All Hallows’ Eve, English village maidens would eat a gingerbread “husband” to ensure that they would find a real mate. In Hungary and Yugoslavia, decorated gingerbread dolls were exchanged as love tokens, inscribed with romantic sentiments or inlaid with tiny mirrors to symbolize a boy and girl gazing at one another for eternity.
Of course when I think of a gingerbread man, I think of the little dude from Shrek. “Not the gumdrop buttons!” If you decorate some gingerbread this season, post a photo for all of us. We’d love to see your ginger people or houses so we can be inspired. – Chef Ro