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The Candyland Housing Project
It started with a few flakes of frosting that quietly fluttered down from the roof. Then a glob. And finally a blob. Our group of merry party goers held their breath as the roof suddenly shimmed and shook left, then right before collapsing directly on top of the walls. But the walls held. All in all, it wasn’t too bad of an earthquake in gingerbread land.
Our friends were the proud new owners of a flat-roofed gingerbread house complete with one traumatized gingerbread man. Since we lived in Sierra Vista, Arizona a city known for flat-roofed homes with swamp coolers up top, all of the party attendees agreed this wasn’t a Pinterest fail. No. We merely adapted to our environment to portray a realistic southwestern home.
The gingerbread earthquake happened during our first year of hosting a gingerbread decorating contest. It quickly became one of our favorite Christmas traditions. We’d round up a group of friends, split into teams and set the clock for 30 minutes. We loved an evening of light-hearted competition with questionable prizes for the winners.
As novices, we chose to make all of our building supplies. No easy peasy kits for us! We labored over homemade slabs of gingerbread and whipped frosting. We quickly learned two lessons: slabs of gingerbread weigh a lot and most frosting makes terrible glue to hold together heavy slabs of gingerbread.
As a result, many of our creations looked like gingerbread slums, with walls leaning at odd angles, roofs caved in and candy decorations slowly sliding down the walls. “Do your best and caulk the rest” really didn’t help in this situation. The houses could be compared to a building apocalypse, only much more tasty and less terrifying—unless you were the gingerbread man.
Eventually we found a mold for the house, a good light-weight gingerbread recipe and an even better frosting recipe that worked like Super Glue. We deemed these houses suitable for habitation.
Despite the advances, we still ended up covered in frosting, eating way more of the decorations than we should. The sugar rush just added to the excitement of the event.
I suppose the sugar highs also explained the trash talking. One year in particular got nasty when our friends made a Kansas State gingerbread house to taunt me, a Mizzou grad.
The college rivalry dates back to 1909. It was so on! Naturally my husband and I stepped up our decorating and handily beat them with a stylish, delicious house plus a little snark for good measure. (Don’t tell them, but I actually liked their snowman. He was quite tasty.)
So what started with an unfortunate earthquake graduated to a real housing boom for the Gingerbread Man. This tradition gives gingerbread men around the world and us something to look forward to each year.
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