Gingerbread Tales

Most holiday gingerbread creations are lovely houses filled with magical red and white peppermint swirls, candy canes, Necco wafer roofs, and gum drop borders. A harmonious vision of how sweet the world should be.


Peace on Earth

In others, the story is a little less benign. A creaky old woman wearing a scarf and apron (we know who she really is) beckons to a couple of small children, luring them into her tasty gingerbread home. The snow-covered landscape is playful and inviting, yet somehow menacing.


Come into my parlor, children…

And then there are those who don’t bother with the subtleties of storytelling. Such as our 10-year-old son and his friend. This past Christmas Eve, our guests gazed in wonder at the ice cream cone trees, the swirls of snow that the boys created.

All is well at the castle...

All is well at the castle…

Looking more closely, our guests realized that something was amiss and gasped.

“Is that blood?” someone whispered.

Yes, that's blood.

Green gummy bear casualties of war.

“Yes,” I said, and then explained that the scene depicted medieval times. Oh, AND that the missing half of the gingerbread diorama (that went home with the friend) was a rival Gummy bear castle. Perhaps England and France? There was a siege and, well, the result wasn’t pretty. Even the trees expressed their horror at the carnage.

Backed against the wall

Backed against the wall

There’s also no shortage of potty humor, serving to explain the yellow snow, compliments of the Golden Gummies and one Green Gummy on the upper terrace. And I think they’re trying to distract the tree that ended up with a skewered Green Gummy in its mouth, blood drizzling down its frosted coconut limbs.

Skewered gummi bear lands in tree's mouth

Not a pretty sight

Some Golden Gummies died alone behind the battlement…


Oh woe!

A witch directed her Green Gummy Bear army while the peppermint and green coconut trees looked on, agog.


The witch’s sister, a cold-hearted woman, took a shower in her comfy shag rug castle keep, while the battle raged outside the castle walls.


Not content to set a turret on fire, the Golden Gummy army attacked with a pretzel log battering ram.


Battering ram

One Golden Gummy lost its life in the tar pit (the wonders of black food coloring).


The turret tar pit torture chamber.

The Green Gummy Bear army attempted to board a Golden Gummy raft to cross the river into enemy territory, sustaining heavy casualties, notably the speared Green Gummies bleeding next to the frolicking salmon in the river.


The horror! The horror! (Heart of Darkness, anyone?)

The Marshmallow Mayor of the castle looked out from behind the battlement, bug-eyed at the realities of war—yet another speared Green Gummy lying in massive quantities of blood. And yes, there’s a small dog sniffing at the foot of the pineapple-crowned evergreen.


Some of the Green Gummies insisted that war was for fools and went snowboarding on the castle’s half pipe.


Tra la la la la

While still others play rappelling games down the back of the keep. 


The Green Gummies, typical of the monied elite, employed Licorice Minions and Starburst Battalions to do most of war’s dirty work.


More skewers and blood

Was there a happy ending to this sordid war? The castle seems to think so…


But I suspect that all gingerbread constructions maintain some active form of denial. Just ask the Brothers Grimm.

In this coming New Year, may you spin tales that are much more entertaining and far less violent than this one!!


Best wishes!

P.S. For those of you wondering about the round turrets, my husband used a structural gingerbread recipe and laid rectangles of rolled dough over empty Laphroaig scotch containers to form half cylinders. Watch the time lapse movies, 1st and 2nd half of the making of the complete diorama here:


42 thoughts on “Gingerbread Tales

  1. johnnycrabcakes says:

    Hi-Frickin’-larious, Jilanne! Reminds me much of the drawings I used to do as a kid. Lots and Lots of Stick-figure carnage, with plenty of Red Ink.
    And I dunno, I thought this was quite creative indeed, but go figure…

  2. 4amWriter says:

    So funny, Jilanne. I am really impressed with their creativity — despite the blood and potty humor. I guess that goes with the territory. As long as they had fun, then that’s what’s important. I’m sure they’ll remember this for many years to come.

    Happy New Year!!

  3. FictionFan says:

    😆 The child is the father of the man! (Though in this case it sounds as if the father had just as much fun as the child…) You forgot to answer the most important question though…did it taste good?

    (Given the potty humour, I’m rather glad there seems to be a shortage of chocolate… )

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Oh, the taste. I can’t remember how many Haribo gummy bears gave their lives even before they made it into the diorama. My husband did enjoy drinking the Laphroaig and baking the forms. And we all enjoyed the assembly. Now about the chocolate. I told my son that chocolate isn’t good for gingerbread dioramas because it melts in your hands while you’re trying to place it. So—we ate it instead. And we saved the really good black licorice for eating.

  4. Pamela Hodgdon says:

    Oh my word – This is great. After my amazement, I laughed the whole way through. What a creative family you are. Yes, many stories this year. Thank you so much!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes, you can definitely call us enablers. And when they’re engaged, there’s no stopping them. Our lives are in one perpetual state of construction. You should see the garage filled with project detritus and sketches. Who knows where these activities will lead? Best wishes to you and yours in the new year!

  5. ofglassandbooks says:

    Goodness, this is a magical post of delicacies and candy extravaganza! We are just back from our holidays in the most northern part of Italy, just South of the border with Austria, and a day trip to Innsbruck, just over the Italian border in the most southern part of Austria. I have seen so many of these little gingerbread beauties that I thought I would feel empty of all life meaning once back in the UK. Until your post appeared on my grey lap top screen and made everything look pink again…or ginger, and red, green and blue, and all other yummy colours pictured in your post!
    Good work, thank you.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      But did you see any skewered knights or evil witches along the way? I swear that if you look hard enough, you’ll see them hovering around the edges of history. Happy New Year! Sounds like you had a great trip!

      • ofglassandbooks says:

        Excellent! And now that you are mentioning it, yes, I have indeed seen wonderful creatures from traditional and regional fairytales whilst walking around Innsbruck. There were huge giants in the Riesengasse, and sketches from old tales in the Mrchengasse. What a treat!

          • ofglassandbooks says:

            YES! Goodness, that’s exactly it! and lovely it was too. The main road, from which the Maerchengasee and Riesengasse depart, is nicely contained between snow covered mountains. The road ends, and tall mountains begin, just like that. Bolzano, in Italy, is equally beautiful, fascinating in its troubled history which now sees a split society of German and Italian speaking people – separate schools, separate churches, bilingualism a requirement for employment in public sector jobs. Very interesting.

          • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

            Very interesting! My husband grew up in Milan and Bonn (and a couple of other cities in Germany I can’t recall at the moment), so I’ll ask him if he knows anything about Bolzano. So many hundreds of years living on top of one another, I can not imagine–especially culturally–Germans and Italians being comfortable bedfellows.

  6. ofglassandbooks says:

    Historical interest aplenty! It’s a part of Italy’s history nobody is proud of. Depending on how long your husband spent in Italy, he might have had to endure learning about it at school! I might find a book or two that focus on the South Tirol society and write a few lines about it. Talking of books, I specifically looked for the Fisher books you recommended earlier today at our bookstore – NONE IN, can you believe it? I came out of the shop with the latest by Patricia Cornwell and Mitch Alborn, both half price. Not great, but not bad either.
    Have a good evening

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Keep trying to find the Fisher books. She’s a wonderful writer, combining food, culture, wit and lust. 😀

      Would love to read a bit about the not-so-neighborly feelings between Germany and Italy.

      Good night!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Best wishes to you, too! My son is writing a “memoir” as an assignment for school about how he and his family have built gingerbread dioramas every year “for as long as he can recall.” Can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

      Cheers to 2014!

  7. ofglassandbooks says:

    Hello again! Reading your Bio I was super impressed by…everything, really, but also by your volunteering for SchoolMarch, founded by Dave Eggers – the man himself! He is one of my favourite authors. I’m glad to know he is investing time and resources in community projects. I wrote a mini post about one of his short stories. Here it is, in case you have the time and the curiosity to stop by: At least I hope the link works. If not, I guess that searching for Dave Eggers on my blog will bring the post up. I wonder what made him choose such long title and the single paragraph style. What did he want to convey by doing so? I’ll probably never know. I’ll finish my rumbling comment by introducing to you a new blog: Barking at the Wrong Tree – short stories for the confused. It only contains one single short story. I didn’t want to use OG&Bs to experiment with short stories. Perhaps it would have been simpler to keep everything under one umbrella, who knows. Interestingly it attracted fresh “likes” from bloggers who never heard of OG&Bs.
    All the best,

  8. Lady Fancifull says:

    Wow, Jilanne! What a wonderfully creative lot you all are. To my SHAME I never realised there was a tradition of home-made gingerbread houses.

    Now, if only YOU could be persuaded to make a rival version yourself, with the strict proviso that the materials used would be only finest chocolate, I’m sure a number of us would invite ourselves over to do taste-testing. However, what fab creativity by your boy. I don’t think I’d want to eat it but I sure appreciate the imagination. Move over D Hurst, the gingerbread artist is on his way!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes, my “gingerbread” house would be three-story, divine 70% cacao. And perhaps it would resemble the organic shapes of Ruth Asawa. This current piece, being pure sugar, would not require the formaldehyde that Hurst appears to favor. It will last until my son and husband decide to blow it up. They are also fond of pyrotechnics.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      It’s great fun, especially if you have a group of creative people with a sense of humor. Of course, it’s not just relegated to the holiday season, either. A friend once made one for their birthday. Another friend made a haunted gingerbread house for Halloween. Give it a try! Happy New Year!

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