For many families, the tradition of decorating a gingerbread house is an annual holiday event. Little do they know that they are participating in a tradition that is centuries old.
Though the English are credited with being the first to bake and sell gingerbread when they introduced the Gingerbread Man, they weren’t the first people in Europe to bake this unique treat. In fact, it was an Armenian Monk who is actually credited for bringing gingerbread to Europe back in the 10th century. He taught the skill of baking the treat to both Christians and French priests.
Gingerbread was prominent with other religious institutions across Europe such as the Swedish Nuns. It is widely known that monasteries were one of the first places to sell gingerbread. In the 16th century, gingerbread was also available for purchase in farmers’ markets and pharmacies. It wasn’t until gingerbread found its way to Britain that it started being painted. It was displayed in shop windows and became the popular holiday treat we now know today.
Though decorating gingerbread cookies had become a growing trend, the popular activity of decorating gingerbread houses didn’t take hold until the publishing of Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm. This well-known German tale also resulted in German settlers bringing gingerbread to America, where it continues to be popular today.
Creating gingerbread houses started at Wilton decades ago, and continues each year with the introduction of new designs. How many houses do we make? In 2011, we made over 2,000,000 gingerbread houses.
Here are some fun facts about those gingerbread houses:
- There was over 900,000 square feet of living space inside the houses
- If you stacked the gingerbread houses on top of each other they would equal 860 Empire State Buildings
- Over 645,000 lbs. of gingerbread and 900,000 lbs. of candy have been used for all of our kits
- Over 2,000,000 lbs. of icing has been used
We design exclusive gingerbread kits for Michaels, Jo-Ann, Wal-Mart and many other retailers. Be sure to browse our Gingerbread House Fun web page for decorating ideas, techniques and frequently asked questions. Which design will you choose?