Todd Moe spoke with TAUNY folklorist Hannah Harvester about this year's contest, and the history of gingerbread houses. The tradition began in the mid-19th century when the story of Hansel and Gretel and a witch's candy cottage become popular. But Harvester says, in some cultures, baking gingerbread goes back centuries.
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Since gingerbread preserves very well, gingerbread houses have been a tradition for 200 years. But the tradition of decorating gingerbread goes back even further. Historically, gingerbread making occurred mostly in Europe, Harvester said. Decorated gingerbread was a common holiday gift.
The three judging categories for TAUNY’s Sugar & Spice prizes are: Children (under the age of 17), adults (17 and up), and families/groups. With regards to the children category, Harvester asks that the children primarily do the work. Any number of people can work together on a house. For example, a group of children or co-workers can submit a house in their respective category.
The rules are simple; everything has to be edible, but doesn’t have to be candy. Two exceptions are the base, which can be wood, and a lollipop on a stick. The gingerbread should be made from scratch, and your design has to be original, nothing from a kit, Harvester says.
The judges will first look for a solid structure, which is very important. They will be looking for originality, creativity, overall esthetic, appeal, and whether it fits this year’s contest theme: gingerbread around the world.
To enter the contest, Harvester asks that you let TAUNY know by Monday, November 19. Gingerbread houses are to be completed and submitted to the TAUNY Center in Canton by Thursday, November 29.. Harvester says they are working on getting a van to go and pick up contestant gingerbread house who unable to drop theirs off. Contact TAUNY if you need help delivering your submission.
TAUNY has several suggestions for books on their website: http://www.tauny.org. Former winner and current judge, Rebecca Weld, will be giving a talk on gingerbread making and techniques Saturday, November 10, at 2 pm at The TAUNY Center.