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Crafty confections

Gingerbread house competition takes over West 82
Dec 10, 2009
By Gabrielle Johnston

Cheryl Hanzel, environmental studies program manager, eyed the broken branches of the tree speculatively. One of her teammates had already run off to bake more limbs and Hancel declared there to be plenty of time left in the competition.
?We?re always trying to push the buttons a little bit,? she said, gesturing at the pieces that would combine to make a gingerbread tree house -- a fun twist on a seasonal favorite.

The environmental studies team was one of 12 that took part in West 82?s gingerbread house building competition on Dec. 9. Striving for an ?all natural? look, the tree house?s roof and siding were painted to resemble the real thing while still retaining one of the competition?s most important standards: everything must be edible.

Their efforts paid off when the team's "Oh Christmas Tree" took first place. Coming in second was ?Student Survival Kit? by the University College team and third was ?Team Spirit? by the university advancement team.

The row of confectionary contractors lined the eating area of West 82, eager to prove the worthiness of their creations. The competition started at 8 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. The judges, taken from Dining Services and Baker University Center administration, waded through the stiff competition to declare the winners.

No two entries in the gingerbread house competition were alike. Some leaned toward whimsical, while others went straight for architectural prowess. Out of ice cream cones, gingerbread and frosting, the spires of Moscow?s St. Basil?s Cathedral rose from under the hands of the Center for International Studies team.

?We are the Center for International Studies,? Karla Schneider, associate director of the center, said. ?So, we must do something international!?

Acacia Nikoi, assistant director of African Studies at the center, has prompted her team?s participation all three years of the competition.

?It?s a fun thing for the department to do together,? she said.
Team building was one of the inspirations for the competition, according to Mary Jones, associate director of catering and Baker University Center. Jones, along with others in Dining Services, started the competition and saw a warm reception.

But, it?s not all sweetness and goody gum drops.

?They come to win, let me tell you!? Jones exclaimed.

The team from University College worked steadily, applying dollops of pink frosting to a shoulder bag and constructing other bits to add to their display. Slabs of gingerbread, destined to be transformed into books, peeked out of the bag. A white-iced laptop, complete with an edible screen shot of the university?s student Web page, sat next to the bag.

?This is our student success set,? Wendy Merb-Brown, director of the college?s learning communities programs, said, gesturing with pink-frosting-tipped fingers.

In addition to winning second place, the entry also nabbed the People?s Choice Award.

None of the cookies crumbled, and a selection of the gingerbread houses, castles and pirate ships remained on display through Dec. 11.


Updated Dec. 15, 2009.


Published: Dec 10, 2009 9:44 AM


With a laptop that looked good enough to eat, the University College team won second place in the gingerbread house competition with their entry, "Student Survival Kit."
Photographer: Kevin Riddell


Heather Brown, of the College of Education, adds frosting to the gingerbread house for the team from educational studies.
Photographer: Kevin Riddell

Gingerbread contest winner

In its third consecutive year of entering the competition, the  environmental studies team scored a first-place finish with its entry, "Oh Christmas Tree."
Photograph courtesy of environmental studies


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