Why is the Gingerbread cookie a man? Plus, a gallery of delightful decorating ideas

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Here at Julianna Rae we love to snack which is why, after silk, food is the highlight of many of our blogs and also why most of the staff agree that one of their favorite pastimes is eating cookies.  Let’s face it, cookies really are the perfect snacking food minus the crumbs of course.  And the crumbs can’t be too much of a bother because Americans still manage to eat over 2 billion cookies a year!  Surprisingly, statistics report that more than half of these cookies are homemade.  That is a lot of baking!   

And, the Holidays are a great time for baking especially gingerbread cookies!  The gingerbread cookie is one of the more iconic cookies of the season but why, oh why is it in the shape of a man?  Have you wondered too? 

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets and folklore both suggest we have Queen Elizabeth I and creative folk-medicine practitioners to thank for the manly shape of the gingerbread cookie.  And, of course, love has got something to do with it… doesn’t it always? 

With the lack of online dating sites during the English Renaissance, folk-medicine practitioners instructed young women to create gingerbread “husbands” as love tokens.  These love tokens were given to prospective husbands in the hopes of winning their hearts.  If their suitors swiped right or rather fell in love with the warm and spicy delicacy that was prepared for them, then a marriage proposal was sure to follow. 

Queen Elizabeth I used the cookies to delight her guests at elaborate banquets.  The feasts featured gingerbread men, all made by the royal gingerbread maker, decorated to represent the foreign dignitaries and people in her court.  It is reported that she had cookies made to replicate her suitors too.  Unfortunately, the “love token” was a fail for Elizabeth because although she received many offers she never married and died childless. 

No royal gingerbread maker on your staff?  Not to worry!  If you are looking for some delightful decorating ideas for making your own gingerbread men or women check out this fun gallery of decorated cookies!

Gingerbread UPS Man

We start off the gallery with a cookie representing a guy everyone likes to see at their house as you chew your nails over whether the package will get here in time for Christmas. At least he still has a smile on his face! For more ideas just as adorable check out Taste of Home’s “10 Adorable Ways to Decorate Gingerbread Cookies“. PHOTO: tasteofhome.com

Cookies On Vacation

It looks like these two forgot to pack the sunscreen because they are already cooked! PHOTO: Cookie Conection

Gingerbread Woman

All dressed up for Christmas and we love the curly Q hair! Recipe, decorating instructions, and photo by EatSmarter

Gingerbread Hugs

These cookies won’t crumble because they are made from King Arthur Flour’s easy peasy recipe for soft and chewy gingerbread cookies. BostonGirlBakes includes tips on decorating them and how she got these softies to hug their own little snowflake cookies. PHOTO: BostonGirlBakes.com

Gingerbread Wookiees

We think a Wookiee makes the perfect “cookiee” and all you need is a simple fork for the details. See how they are made so you can chew up your own Chewbacca! PHOTO: Sugared Nerd

Gingerbread Snowmen

These guys won’t melt unless they are in your mouth of course! We adore the sparkle that comes from the edible glitter and the snow detail using sanding sugar. PHOTO: Cookie Connection

Stressed Out Gingerbread Men

You’d be stressed out too if you were about have a bite taken out of you! But seriously, we love the humorous take on this traditional cookie. TheDecoratedCookie shows you how to make them on Tablespoon.com. PHOTO: The Decorated Cookie

Gingerbread in 3D

No glasses are needed for these edible sweeties in 3D. They stand up with the help of some frosting snow. If you do not like gingerbread the recipe uses sugar cookies cut out in the shape of gingerbread men. PHOTO: IntheKidsKitchen.com

These are so cute we want to make them all (and snack while we’re at it too).  So, there you have it… now it’s your turn to throw on an apron and heat up the oven so you can enjoy some gingerbread men of your own, see you in the next blog!


Deb Fries is a freelance designer and writer and works at Julianna Rae in Customer Service and writes for the blog at JuliannaRae.com