Gingerbread History and Fun Facts

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Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. As I mentioned in my post last month, I have a new book out right now, The Holiday Courtship. In one of the scenes in the book, my heroine and several other characters are constructing and decorating gingerbread houses. So for today’s post I thought I’d share a little history and trivia surrounding gingerbread and gingerbread creations.

  • In ancient times, Greeks and Egyptians utilized gingerbread for various ceremonial purposes.
  • Gingerbread is thought to have been brought to Europe from the East in the late 10th century by a monk for medicinal purposes.  He promoted its use to treat indigestion and other stomach ailments. For a time, monks were the only people in Europe who made gingerbread, and they often created them in the shapes of saints and angels.
  • Responsibility for the first gingerbread men has been credited to Queen Elizabeth I. In preparation for a state event, she had her bakers shape them to resemble visiting dignitaries and then she  presented the treat to them as gifts.
  • Gingerbread houses became overwhelmingly popular in Germany in the 19th century as a direct result of the Brothers Grimm publishing the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale. In fact, it was the early German settlers who brought this tradition to America.
  • The hallmark of a true gingerbread is not only that ginger is the dominant flavor, but it must use either honey or molasses as the sweetener. Other than that, there is no one standard recipe for gingerbread.  In fact, according to one statistic, if you search Google for gingerbread cookie recipe, you will find over a million versions.
  • There is a town in Norway, where every year the citizens create an entire city made from gingerbread houses .
  • The world’s largest gingerbread house was constructed in 2001 and stood approximately 67 feet high. It utilized 1,800 Hershey bars, 1,200 feet of Twizzlers, 100 pounds of tootsie rolls, and thousands of other pieces of candy as decorations. The construction took nine days to complete and it and was housed at the Mall of America in Minnesota.
  • There are a number of superstitions involving gingerbread. Here are just a couple of them:
    • Swedish tradition says that if you put the gingerbread in your palm, make a wish and then break the gingerbread with your other hand, if it breaks into exactly three pieces, then the wish will come true.
    • In England, single women have been known to eat gingerbread “husbands”, hoping it will bring them luck in meeting their future spouse.


There you have it, just a little of the history and lore surrounding this yummy treat.

So do you like gingerbread? Do you have any hands-on experience constructing gingerbread houses or making gingerbread men?

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of my new book or any book from my backlist.


He Wanted A Wife by Christmas… 

As Christmas approaches, Hank Chandler is determined to find a wife to mother his sister’s orphaned children. When schoolteacher Janell Whitman offers to help him with his niece and nephew, she seems to be the perfect match—but she won’t accept his proposal. Instead, she insists she’ll find him another bride before the holidays. 

Janell moved to Turnabout, Texas, to put her past behind her and focus on her future—one that doesn’t include marriage. But while she plays matchmaker and cares for Hank’s children, she loses her heart to the two youngsters…and their adoptive father. If Janell reveals her secrets to Hank, will he still want her to be his Christmas bride?



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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at

35 thoughts on “Gingerbread History and Fun Facts”

  1. Hi Winnie! This is fascinating history on gingerbread. It doesn’t surprise me that it was used for medicinal purposes as ginger is suppose to be good for stomach aches & upsets. What I found funny, women on England eating gingerbread men for luck in meeting a mate. 🙂
    Gingersnaps are my favorite cookie and I like to make them with molasses. I think it adds a distinctive flavor. Ever had molasses cookies….yummy!! It’s making me hungry for them now, lol!
    I attempted to make a gingerbread house with my kids when they were younger, but it was a rather disastrous mess. I’ve never done another one since 😀
    Thank you for the history lesson, I like learning new things about ordinary things. And for the chance to win your new book. Your writing is wonderful & LIH is my favorite of the line! Blessings and Merry (almost) Christmas to you and yours.

  2. My experience with gingerbread was not a fun one. Reading your post I can see why. My ingredients were all wrong.Will have to try again someday!

  3. I have always admired gingerbread houses but have never attempted to construct one. I would rather enjoy the beauty of the ones others make. I don’t like to fail and I’m afraid I wouldn’t be good at it.

    I would love to win a copy of your new book.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  4. Hi Winnie, interesting post. I never made a gingerbread house, but my daughter was required to make one as a chef apprentice for a hotel. Much to her horror it collapsed and she had to stay up all night to make another one. Fortunately, a nice young man came to her rescue and they got the thing done in time. To show her appreciation she later married him.

  5. Some interesting facts I did not know about… I made a version of a gingerbread house as a kid with graham crackers… but not a real one… actually never ate one either… usually enjoy ginger snaps. Happy Holidays!

    • Hi Colleen. What a great way to employ the creativity of building a gingerbread house with none of the muss or fuss of baking the materials. It would be something fun to do with young kids for sure.

  6. Hi Winnie, what a great, informative post. I love gingerbread, lemon-ginger tea, and the gingerbread Coffeemate. (which apparently I am mot the only one as the grocery store keeps runnng out of it.) For Thanksgiving, my grandson made a gingerbread turkey. It turned out so cute. But…was harder than a rock by the weekend when he wanted to chomp on it. Aw, Margaret, what a terrific story there.

  7. Winnie you are filled with a wealth of trivia. Gingerbread cookies were my dad’s favorite cookie. We love the World Market cookies the best and buy a tin every year around the holidays to enjoy in his honor. The grandkids and I love decorating and eating the ginger bread houses every year, it makes for some delightful memories. So proud of all your writings keep up the good work.

    • Hi Geralyn! I haven’t tried World Market’s version – I may have to remedy this season 🙂
      And I bet you are making wonderful memories that your grandkids will cherish for many, many years to come.

  8. Winnie – we love gingerbread and I make it often. Even though my daughter has made a gingerbread house I never have but back in my “crafting” days I made a big gingerbread man and covered it with modge podge to preserve it. When I came home from work I couldn’t find it so I asked my husband if he had seen it and he said he ate it. After calling the poison control center and she laughed I knew we were good and have laughed about it for years.
    I must have a copy of your new book so I can read about “Janell”

  9. I had no idea gingerbread men had been around so long! Loved your post! I just saw the Property Brothers build and decorate two gingerbread houses on TV last week. They each were on different teams with a famous chef and had 72 hours to make a life-sized house and decorate the yard and inside the house. It was fun to watch. One brother had a gumdrop “mistletoe” and a candy chandelier. On house had a stained glass window colored with melted candy. The actual house was plywood–but all the decorations right down to the tiles on the roof were candy and gingerbread.

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Winnie! And as I’ve mentioned before…I love that cover on your new book!

    • Hi Kathryn. Isn’t trivia fun 🙂 Discovering off the wall facts about everyday things is one of my favorite parts of research. And wishes for a joyous and blessed Christmas to you too my friend.

  10. Oh wow! Enjoyed learning about gingerbread . Who would have thought. I think I tried making it once and did not do a very good job. Maybe I need a good recipe:). Thank you for the great information.

  11. Oo, love this post with a little history lesson for gingerbread loving fans like me! Ginger is a staple at my house and ginger snap cookies will be snapped up faster than you can snap your fingers! Thank you for the chance to win your book. Annie justcommonly(at)gmail(dot)com

  12. When my kids were younger, we built a lot of gingerbread houses. The easiest ones were the ones they made in school using graham crackers as the ‘gingerbread’ and icing to stick the crackers to an empty milk carton!

  13. From the first Christmas after we got married I have made 5″ gingerbread boys (and when the matching girl cutter became available) gingerbread girls to decorate our tree. I also made a 15″ gingerbread star for the top of the tree. I have tried and tried to make a house but I guess I’m just to clumsy. I must say the broken pieces were delicious.

  14. Thank you for sharing about gingerbread. I have never tried to make a gingerbread house, but I love to look at them. They are so creative.
    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of your book. It looks like a great read.

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