Food For Thought: A Short History of Gingerbread 8 years ago

Food For Thought: A Short History of Gingerbread

We need food and drink to survive, to nourish us and to keep us in tip-top shape. But did you ever wonder about the history behind certain foods and drinks?

This week we’re bringing you the history behind gingerbread.


Gingerbread has quite a lengthy history and though a bit murky, it’s suspected that its origins lie in Asia where ginger root was cultivated.

Ginger root was farmed in China for medicinal purporses and more than likely made its way to Europe through traders.

Back in Medieval times, the term actually referred to preserved ginger as opposed to the gingerbread we know today. Used as a spice, ginger was used to give preserved meats more flavour and mask the fact that it wasn’t fresh.

According to the History Kitchen, Chinese recipes for gingerbread were developed during the 10th century and then when introduced to Europe, was given its own spin.


They write, “elaborately decorated gingerbread became synonymous with all things fancy and elegant in England”.

However the treat itself didn’t become a familiar term until about the 15th century.

Gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century and became associated with Christmas tradition. It's popularity grew but it's unclear as to whether gingerbread houses were a result of the popular fairy tale Hansel or Gretal, or vice versa.

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