Where Do Gingerbread Men Come From?

It’s impossible to know. Humans have been making ceremonial breads in all manner of shapes (especially and including the human form) since time immemorial. And even though gingerbread is a fairly recent innovation, there’s really no way to tell who might have fashioned that particular bread into a person-shape first.

Even so, more than a few people credit the popularization of the gingerbread man to Queen Elizabeth the First, who reigned over England during the English Renaissance. So the story goes, Elizabeth had a habit of presenting important visitors with gingerbread likenesses of themselves which she herself made. I don’t know if the story is true or not, however she’s also known as “The Virgin Queen”, so she obviously had a lot of extra time on her hands.

Who might those important visitors have been? A short Who’s Who would have included Shakespeare, Christpoher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Ben Johnson, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake and Francis Bacon, to mention just a few. All I can say is she must have been wicked good with a pastry bag, because those frilly Elizabethan collars couldn’t have been easy to render in icing.

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