What Makes 2022's Gingerbread White House Unique

The holidays are upon us again, and while you might be trying to knock out your shopping early or searching for Christmas cookie recipes, for the President and First Lady, this means the unveiling of this year's gingerbread White House. Gingerbread has been a part of America since the country's very beginning, with PBS saying it was brought over from Europe by some of the very first colonists. The earliest known American cookbook even had recipes for three types of gingerbread, with a soft variety being the most popular and even baked by George Washington's family. However, the gingerbread house itself originated in 16th-century Germany, where it first formed its association with Christmas.

The tradition of a Presidential gingerbread house as part of Christmas decorations dates back to the late '60s. According to The White House Historical Association, gingerbread cookies and gingerbread men had been used in Christmas decorations for decades, but the first gingerbread house, based on a German A-frame cottage, was made for Richard Nixon in 1969. The simple designs became bigger and more elaborate until White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier created the first replica White House in gingerbread in 1993. They have gradually become more integrated into the decorations, often reflecting the Christmas theme chosen each year by the First Lady. For 2022, Jill Biden has chosen "We the People" as the theme (via The White House), and the beautiful new gingerbread house fits in perfectly.

The 2022 gingerbread White House pays tribute to the Constitution

This year's gingerbread White House features a design based on the famous preamble to the Constitution, "We the People," which The White House says was chosen to celebrate our shared values as Americans. In addition to the White House itself, the design features a sugar cookie replica of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, the iconic building where the Constitution was signed. The gingerbread house is also flanked by a replica of the Constitution itself, looming over both sweet structures in its prominent position on the eagle pier table located in the State Dining Room.

The White House gingerbread sculptures have gotten huge over the years, with The White House Historical Association saying Chef Mesnier's original 1993 house weighed in at over 100 pounds. This year's model might be the most impressive yet, as current pastry chef Susan Morrison's design weighs over 300 pounds. NPR reports that the cookie White House includes 100 pounds of the sugar paste pastillage alone, along with 30 pounds of chocolate and 40 pounds of royal icing. While such a stunning sculpture may be out of reach for most people, that shouldn't stop anyone from trying their own hand at this long-running holiday tradition. Gingerbread houses are a fantastic and whimsical holiday decoration centerpiece and the only ones you won't be annoyed that you have to clean up after the season is over.