As our thoughts turn to the less fortunate among us this holiday season, it may seem tacky, even transgressive, to erect a temporary structure made from 7,200 eggs and 1,800 pounds of butter. But like other much-beloved holiday traditions, the creation of gingerbread houses is sacred and not to be tampered with even if said gingerbread house is over 39,000 cubic feet, required building permits, and boasts “everything but indoor plumbing.”
In Texas — where everything is indeed bigger — work was recently completed on the world’s largest (according to the World Guinness Record folks) home in which the primary building materials consist of brown sugar, flour, molasses, eggs, butter, and an ungodly amount of candy (22,304 pieces in this instance.) The architect-designed home, conceived by the Texas A&M Traditions Club (a private golf and residential community) and baked/built with the help from volunteers in the community of Bryan, bumped a gingerbread house built at the Mall of America in 2006 from the top spot in the record books. That structure measured in at 36,660 cubic feet.
This 36-million calorie marvel wasn’t created just for sheer spectacle. Since its inception, Tradition Club's gingerbread house — it boasts an exterior completely made from gingerbread and icing per Guinness rules and reaching 22-feet at its highest point — was meant to be both a record-breaker and a vehicle for holiday do-goodery.
Bill Horton,general manager of Traditions Club, explains to TODAY.com: “In June, I was at a luncheon with St. Joseph’s Hospital, and I got this crazy idea to build the world’s largest gingerbread house and combine it with their drive to build a center for their trauma program, and they bit.”
After opening for public tours — admission is $3 a head for adults and $2 for kids with all profits being donated — for less than a week, Tradition Club’s ginormous gingerbread house has raised more than $150,000 to help fund a new trauma level II center at St. Joseph’s. Crowds flocking to see, but not to taste, the structure have topped 600 people a night. The gingerbread McMansion before it ends its run on December 14.
Building a life-sized, fully wired building from icing and baked goods was obviously a challenging endeavor, especially considering its outdoor location. Horton explains that the construction team struggled with high humidity which prompted a butter reduction; threats of a winter storm also provided logistical issues and lead to the acquisition of a
6,500-square-foot tarp. The biggest challenge, according to Horton, hasn’t been dealing with severe weather but with bees: “We called in a beekeeper the other night and he said there was a cluster of about 2,000 bees. We’ve worked all around them through the process. They’re not bothering us. They’re just getting drunk on sugar.”
Once the house is disassembled, Traditions Club plans to donate non-edible building elements such as lumber and electrical wiring to local charities as the materials can “make the start of a good home for somebody.” Most all materials used to construct the confectionary casa were donated by a range of local supporters.
Although this particular project’s philanthropic bent is more than commendable and the finished product is mighty impressive, anytime that one of these record breaking-ingly massive food-based stunts are completed, the aftertaste, unless said stunts are actually consumed, can be less than desirable to some. What do you think?
And in other record-breaking gingerbread news, the world's largest gingerbread village — chef John Lovitch's 300-square-foot creation dubbed "Gingerbread Lane" — is now on display at the New York Hall of Science in Queens.
More gingerbread gems on MNN:
- Sweet but socially sensitive: A homelessness-themed gingerbread house competition
- A huge, organic gingerbread house
- Bake an eco-gingerbread house