Run, run as fast as you can

The other night my boyfriend and I were watching this awesome show about gingerbread houses. You may not think a Food Network documentary about the Gingerbread House Challenge Championship in Asheville, NC would be an awesome show, but it is; it comes in on a special cable signal in the Fucking Awesome frequency that can only be picked up when Chris is near the TV. I mean when I am alone, nothing is ever on besides some Gilmore Girls rerun (typical summary: Lorelai names each of her potato chips after Osmonds; Rory awkwardly takes tea with the Illuminati; something about Kirk and a ladder), but when Chris comes over we are visited by R. Kelly videos, truly glorious Lifetime movies about cybersmut, and the wonder that is Competitive Gingerbread. Which consists of making gingerbread houses that look like the work of Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light™ brought to freakishly goopy third-dimensional life in a parallel universe based on sugar instead of carbon. We are talking some seriously fucked-up candy civil engineering here.

Maybe my capacity for holiday hoke has increased after ingesting massive doses of it at Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland last month (the capitalization is not a typo, you secular pigs!). Or maybe I got so into this show because I’ve always wanted to make a gingerbread house but have managed to talk myself out of it on the basis of it being messy and time-consuming and obsessive. There were gingerbread castles, gingerbread Victorian mansions, gingerbread Tiki huts, a Diagon Alley made of gingerbread, and a gingerbread carnival with an actual moving carousel on gumball bearings for God’s sake, which apparently is so ahead of its time in terms of gingerbread technology that the judges couldn’t even recognize it for the interactive kinectic gingerbread sculpture that it was–which is to say, they didn’t spin the fucking thing. There were gingerbread controversies and gingerbread tragedy, and we ate it all up (not literally, but technically we could have, even though some of those things didn’t look like they’d be very good and would taste mostly like Karo syrup and compulsive disorder, but still).

It got us thinking of what we would do if we found ourselves in a competitive gingerbread situation. We imagined it would be against our wills maybe, sort of like the Thunderdome, which of course started us thinking about how cool it would be to make a gingerbread Thunderdome, because really, there aren’t enough post-apocalyptic themes in the mainstream gingerbread milleu, are there? Other ideas for elaborate gingerbread tableaus include: a gingerbread Alamo, a crashed gingerbread UPS plane with its cargo of candy spilling out the broken cookie fuselage, and a fondant Wu-Tang Clan in a gingerbread studio. Or we’d make meta gingerbread and make a replica of the Gingerbread Challenge, with little tables and little candy people looking at teeny tiny gingerbread houses. Then we thought about making gingerbread representations of famous disasters and had to stop once we realized that one needed only a very big tray of gingerbread men to make a gingerbread Jonestown. That probably wouldn’t go over so well in Asheville, or, really, anywhere, so we’re glad that we are not forced to 1.) make things out of gingerbread 2.) drink deadly Kool-Aid.

All the same though, I was at a craft store on Friday night and couldn’t help buying one of those kits to make your own pre-fab gingerbread house, where the walls and roof are already baked and cut so you don’t have to make them yourself, and I’m guessing they’ve already hooked up the licorice gas line and dug the gumdrop septic tank, right? I’ll let you know how it turns out.


  1. says

    That Food Network is SNEAKY with a capital effing S! They had a huge rib cook off that sounded totally redneck and weird, but no, they make the most mundane things sound soooo good. I’m pretty sure I gain weight just flipping past that channel!

  2. Jeremy says

    Nice post, but I think you are not sincere in the seriousness of your consideration of gingerbread as a building material.

    Gonna get serious, yo.

    I think they should have held the design competition for the 9/11 Memorial in gingerbread form.

    My design: two plain graham-cracker squares (representing the “footprints” of the original tower) bordered by floreate green mint frosting into which have been placed (at quarter-inch intervals) a bunch of those little steel decorating balls that your mom always told you not to eat off of Grandma’s f-ed up old Xmas cookies on accounta they would give you the same mental problems Grandma had. Those would represent reflection, and spherical cyclical shit and stuff.

    Then if one didn’t win, you could let the less fortunate eat it. (even the little steel balls)

  3. says

    I enjoy your site and for the past 10 months, our corporate snipers filtered it from my reading, but suddenly, it now is viewable. A xmas miracle.

    Anyway, I think they should have a Rachel Ray Gingerbread making contest. Make your cutest, most annoying gingerbread RayRays. I think she’s actually taken over Lagasse as the most ubiquitous and obnoxious figure on FoodTV and her vocabulary is about as limited. Like Lagasse, I just watch her with the sound down.

    I look forward to future visits.

  4. Gryoh says

    I watched that and I loved it, because I am always awed at what people can do with sugar. I was very disappointed in the results of the kids competition though.

  5. Jessica says

    I loved this post, but the biochemist in me just had to point out that sugar IS made out of carbon. I mean, carbon plus some oxygen and hydrogen, but sugar is mostly carbon by weight. Stuff like DNA is also made out of sugar, albeit a different sugar than the one that makes up gingerbread houses. Which means that we are, in fact, living in that parallel universe where nearly everything is made out of sugar.

    Put THAT candy cane in your mouth and smoke it.

  6. says

    Ok, after you are hypnotized by all the Food Network programs long enough to eat yourself to about a size 42…you’ll be ready to lose some weight. I can help. ah ah ahhaha… seriously!

    I love the Food Network! They help keep me in business.


  7. says

    Hi Wendy, I found your page in the Glamour article and I love it! Those Food Network shows are so addicting, especially the ones on sweets…

    Did you like U of I? I go to Iowa State Universtiy right now, but am very familiar with the Iowa campus. Nice to find a blogger so close to home (I live in the suburbs of Chicago when I am not in school)!

    Anyway, just stopped to say hello (and congrats on being in Glamour)!

  8. says

    I watched this show a couple of years ago, and it inspired me to make my very first home-made gingerbread house. What hooked me were the hard candy colored windows that looked like stained glass. They were GORGEOUS. These were like Tiffany Gingerbread Houses. I still haven’t figured out how to make those windows, but I will, someday.

  9. says

    That link to the Lifetime movie might be one of the funniest tings I’ve read in a while, especially since I’ve daly actually seen the Porn Is Bad movie. So sue me; I’m flipping channels one night, it’s on, and I get wrapped in how bad it was. It’s a freaking train wreck, so bad that you can’t tear your eyes away.

  10. says

    I watched that special, too. I was charmed by the young girl with the Pretty Pink Princess Castle. Pink gingerbread! Wee chunky princesses! She was totally robbed by that 3 year old that “made” the winning house. Stupid “no limit on how much parents can help the kids” rule. You know that 3 year old is going to end up as one of those crazy pagent girls smothered by their mother to smile and win everything until they go batshit crazy in college and end up stripping for quarters at Mo’s Bait, Tackle and Strip Joint.

  11. says

    I can’t believe you got sucked into this so badly you had to blog about it – because so did I. I actually woke Steve up and forced him to watch it with me. Once he got over being irritated with me, he got engrossed in it, too.

  12. says

    I’ve watched it….more than twice, now. It’s fascinating!

    I wonder about the marriage of those people whose gingerbread house has the carousel. Evidently the “movement” was not the judge-pleaser that they were hoping for.

    And Bronner’s! OMG! I’ve been to Frankenmuth a hundred times and never went to Bronner’s. But my mom has a HUGE Pinocchio (with multiple noses) from there.

  13. says

    Have you ever seen the world candy-making championships on the Food Network? They have these teams of chefs from various countries making the most amazing works of art out of chocolate, spun sugar, marzipan, etc. SO INCREDIBLE.

  14. says

    Once you’ve been to Bronner’s, you’ll never be the same. So take out your customized ornament with your name scrolled merrily upon it and your new hummel collection and lament the loss of the life you once had before the CHRISTmas Wonderland. You’ll now be susceptible to all kinds of Yule-tide extravaganzas. Don’t worry, we’ll all vote for the gingerbread thunderdome in next year’s contest.

  15. says

    Normally we have a ban on the Food Channel and HGTV in our house, because when we go to my parents house it’s on 24/7 and kind of drives us both a little batty, but I happened to catch the last 15 minutes of the gingerbread thing. It was kind of like a car accident. You can’t help but look.

    I liked the house hidden in the cake. But I can’t help but think these people are either really, really talented, or really, really obsessive compulsive. Or maybe both. They are scary though.

    The food channel is evil. So is HGTV. Once you stop, you get sucked into their evil world, feeling inadaquate because you can’t turn cookies into a replica of the Vatican, or because your yard/house still looks like crap while Betty and Bob Bueller have only live in their house two weeks, and are entirely moved in and organized, and their house is perfectly and eccletically decorated, and their yard is landscaped, and they only spent $1,000 on all of this.

    Or maybe I’m just bitter.

  16. says

    Actually, the Jonestown Gingerbread Massacre might not go over well at the Grove Park Inn, but there are plenty of other places here in Asheville where that would be a big hit!

    Those houses are going to be on display until Jan. 8. It’s a good excuse to come visit!

  17. Chris says

    Dude, how did we not think of this earlier…GINGERBREAD DICKEYVILLE GROTTO!!!!!!!! Holy cow. ’06, definitely in ’06.

  18. Valarie says

    Hi all. Well, I stumbled upon your blog. I was the one who made the Santa’s Village. Yep, it can be an obsessive thing, but so can blogging!!LOL Look next year for another special, except this time it’ll be a Food TV Challenge with only five of us competing in a timed challenge, again Gingerbread.