"Hansel and Gretel" was published by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, better known as "The Brothers Grimm" in 1812. It wasn't a new story. Each of the tales published by the Brothers Grimm was the retelling of a traditional piece of folklore from Germany. These fables were previously handed down from generation to generation, shared verbally around the fire, and Jacob and Wilhelm were the first to write them down and publish them.
With a little artistic embellishment.
It was not until the publication of the story that the witch in the woods lived in an elaborate gingerbread house. Until this point, the witch was said to have had a house built from fabulous confections and it is thought that the brothers took inspiration from the houses made of gingerbread that had been made in Germany since the 16th century.
The story itself is believed to be even older. It is thought that the story began during the "Great Famine," a time in 14th century Europe when food was so scarce that people turned their children out of the home to fend for themselves while some people even resorted to cannibalism to stay alive.
Once the story was published and shared around the world, the concept of the gingerbread house caught the imagination of many people. Gingerbread houses began to spread, not only with the story but with people as they moved to the New World in search of a better life. Gingerbread was traditionally a Christmas treat in Europe, and this combination of stories and events eventually gave rise to the tradition of gingerbread houses that we enjoy today.
However. Some people are not content to open-up a ready-made kit and put together a wonky house. No. Some people have elevated gingerbread houses into an art form, and the ones featured below are so good we think Hansel and Gretel themselves would be happy to move into them.
25 Pastel Perfect Palace
This lovely lilac mansion is a recreation of the Hopkins Mansion, a building that, when its owners passed on, became the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art. The real building was destroyed in the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake but its memory lives on as evidenced by the painstakingly put together gingerbread house that went on display in the lobby of the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel.
What you don't really get from this image is that this "too good looking to eat" edible hotel was over five feet tall and towered over most of the kiddos who came to marvel at it.
24 The Fairytale Palace
It does not feel right to call this spectacular creation a gingerbread house. One of the top ten adult entries in the 2017 National Gingerbread Competition, the elaborate, Russia-inspired palace was created by a couple called The Willhauers of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
This wasn't their first gingerbread rodeo though. The pair has been crafting amazing structures at a national competition level for many years and has been the top prize winners in the contest that has been running for over 25 years. Entries must be at least 75% gingerbread but do not have to be houses or any other kind of building though. Entries include Christmas scenes, animals and trains, among others.
23 Super Spooky Fun
Not every gingerbread house is a treat made especially for Christmas. This huge example of a Halloween Haunted House made from gingerbread was created at Disneyland Resorts for their 2017 display.
Featuring Oogie Boogie, from A Nightmare Before Christmas, this mansion was six feet tall and home to dozens of gingerbread bugs that escaped and were tormenting the ginger zombies in the garden. Not only did this model take 200 hours to build, but it also took 200 pounds of gingerbread and 50 pounds each of white chocolate and fondant.
22 Around And About
If Hansel and Gretel decided to set down their suitcases and set up home in New Orleans then this might be the kind of house they would want.
Named the Hotel De'Lavenir, we could not find any reference to a real building with this name and this look. There is an actual Hotel De'Lavenir in Paris, France but it is in no way as gloriously beautiful as this art piece. The pale blue walls are set off by the white trim, not to mention the ironwork on the fencing and the details of the windows.
21 A Spot For Friends
Having already been thrown out of their home by their mother and father, or step-mom and pop, depending on the version you are reading, our little brother and sister would be forgiven for being distrustful of other people. Bumping into a witch who wants to roast and eat them both probably didn't do much for their trust issues either.
Let's hope that in time they will want to live with others again, and when they are ready they would do well to take up residence in this delightful trio of houses built by Anna Sarpieri. We think the warm glow of those melted butterscotch candy windows looks especially inviting.
20 A Trip To Lost London
It is not only in the US that magnificent gingerbread house, villages, and even cities are created. They are also still going strong in Europe, and the cityscape above is an excellent example.
This display was in the window of the famed Selfridges store in London England, where every year hundreds of thousands of people flock to see the dazzling Christmas window displays. In 2013 this was waiting for the excited crowds to view. Entitled "Lost London" it is a series of London buildings that have either been demolished, fallen down, or designed but never built. The entire thing covered 108 square feet, stood six feet high and took over 400 hours to build.
19 The Colorful Castle Option
Sometimes a two-person house just doesn't cut it. Hansel and Gretel might even take a look at the previous entry and feel that it isn't big enough for them and all of the other fairytale children, waifs, and strays.
In that case, they may want to take possession of something a little grander, maybe an entire castle with its own little village nestled inside of the outer walls. It even has a drawbridge and a portcullis to pull up and keep the dangers of the fantasy world outside.
18 Living With A Princess
At first glance, a house guarded by a dragon might not be the best bet if Hansel and Gretel are looking for a quiet spot to lay their heads and settle down, but this could work out for them. You see, the owner of this house is sleeping beauty and if you peek in through the window by the dragon's tail you can see her dozing away while her prince attempts to slay Maleficent in her dragon form.
As long as they could get inside unscathed, the kiddies would at least have a quiet landlady who was unlikely to complain about their presence.
17 The Cozy Cottage
Of course, it might turn out that the fairytale siblings want to settle down in a cozy cottage just like the one in which they grew up. In that case, this would be a perfect option for the two of them to begin a new life.
Stonework and thatched roofs are not your usual gingerbread house details and yet, once you have seen them used in this way, it seems staggering that people do not do this all of the time. Except maybe it's because you have to be an extremely skilled artist, as this chef is, in order to pull it off.
16 A Fully Serviced Sweet?
Having spent all of that time walking through the forest and then having to fight the wicked witch in order to escape, Hansel and Gretel might appreciate a place to stay where they would be taken care of.
Where better than this huge and finely detailed gingerbread version of The Beverly Wiltshire Hotel? The brother and sister could take up residence in a fully serviced suite, having their meals delivered, their laundry done, and plenty of cartoons on the room's big screen TV.
15 A Beauty Of A Spot
While we were surfing the net, looking for the very best of the worlds gingerbread houses in which to re-home Hansel and Gretel, it quickly became apparent that fairy tales and their inhabitants were a popular theme for the people who create these towering tasty monuments.
So it is another castle we bring to you this time, this one from the Disney interpretation of Beauty and the Beast. It is clear that there are plenty of details in this piece, but what you do not get from the photograph is the sheer scale of the piece. At almost four feet tall, this would keep the munchies at bay all through Christmas, New Year, and probably well into Easter.
14 The Worlds Most Haunted Gingerbread House?
It's one thing to build a beautiful mansion out of gingerbread but quite another to build a gingerbread version of one of the most bizarre and complex houses in the States, but that is exactly what this builder decided to do.
Here is the famous, or more correctly infamous, Winchester House. The personal residence of Sarah Lockwood Parde Winchester, widow of William Winchester, of the Winchester Repeating Arms company. Sarah moved to the eight-bedroom farmhouse after her husband passed and began the constant renovation and building work that saw the housing balloon in size to 24,000 square feet with 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 160 rooms, and 47 staircases. Hopefully, the gingerbread version cost nowhere near the real thing's 1923 price tag of $5 million dollars.
13 Into The Final Frontier
This is the most unusual gingerbread "house" on our list. A gingerbread USS Enterprise, complete with candy cane tractor beam.
Yes, we know that technically speaking it isn't a house but it is somewhere that people live so we figured "hey, what the heck, we can get away with it." After all, what better way for Hansel and Gretel to spend the rest of their lives than boldly going where no fairytale character has gone before? Just keep your fingers crossed they don't bump into the Borg, we don't want them and their ship to be assimilated now do we?
12 A Dark Beauty Spot
When the star of the Netflix show "The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell" was approached by a large food-focused website and asked to create a Christmas party spread, she used the opportunity to try her hand at a gingerbread castle.
At almost five feet tall and with no internal support, this entire structure, apart from the lights inside it, is edible and there isn't a Rice Krispie support or a fondant cheat in sight. The reindeer at the front is made from peppermint bark and if you look closely to the right you'll see the guillotine for those who find themselves on the naughty list.
11 The Homey House
A botanical garden might not be the first place that springs to mind when you are thinking of gingerbread house displays but every year the residents of Ohio flock to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens to view the creative works of art.
We especially love this example because it looks like a warm and inviting family house, which has been decorated for Christmas which seems like just the kind of spot in which Hansel and Gretel would be keen to set up home.
10 Bad Choices And Breaking Bad
Hansel and Gretel may have been smart enough to leave themselves a trail of shiny white stones in order to find their way back home, but their use of breadcrumbs for a trail shows that not all of their decisions are the best.
Likewise, going into the house of the wicked witch was a serious error on their part so it is not totally out of the realm of reality to think they might get lost again and become desperate enough to take shelter in the only place for miles, the Lab RV from Breaking Bad.
9 A Pricey Place To Stay
In the original version of Hansel and Gretel, published by The Brothers Grimm, the two children find the witches horde of gold and jewels before being carried across a river, home to their mom and dad. Then the four, happily reunited family members used the bounty to build a home, filled with food and live happily ever after.
It is possible that their new home may have looked like this gingerbread house which is bedecked with 50 real AAAA grade South Sea Pearls and has a genuine five-carat ruby as the centerpiece of the wreath decoration. Costing a cool $80,000 when it was made, if you didn't want to buy this version the makers were willing to build you a replica of your own home, complete with any precious items your heart desired. As long as your pocketbook could stretch to the cost of course.
8 The Colorful White House
If there was a parallel universe, in which everything was exactly the same but made out of candy, THIS is just what we imagine the White House would look like. It is the perfect combination of true to life replica with the spirit of Christmas and a generous dash of whimsy.
When Hansel and Gretel grow up, should run for office, then this is where the pair of them would take up residence as the joint leaders of Candyland.
7 Betting They'd Love This One
Each year the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. hosts a beautiful gingerbread village display which is created by an in-house team. The staff begins planning for the village in May each year when they have to pre-order hundreds of pounds of candy. Then in August, they begin baking the thousands of intricate pieces of gingerbread that are needed to bring the design to life.
The team starts from scratch every year so that return visitors never see the same confection collection twice. The only thing that remains the same is the high levels of skill and craftsmanship that go into bringing a tiny town to life from 600 pounds of gingerbread.
6 Moving Up To The Big House
If Hansel and Gretel are looking to just dine out, instead of being dined upon, then we have the perfect spot for them.
The gingerbread house in the picture above may have a wooden substructure but that is because it would not be able to support it's own weight otherwise. This lifesize holiday home, built in the Westin Austin’s Stella San Jac restaurant, is made from 900 pounds of flour, 36 cases of corn syrup, 25 cases of butter, five cases of pure cane syrup, 350 pounds of brown sugar, five packs of pumpkin spice, 25 pounds of ground ginger, five cases of egg whites, and 500 pounds of powdered sugar.
5 Gorgeous Homemade Home
This beauty was built by a popular food blogger in Canada named Barry, and that's his two kids in the photo, looking down on this intricately finished trio of row houses.
As you can see, this dad from St. Johns, Newfoundland, not only designs, builds and carefully decorates his traditional Christmas cookie home, but he gives it an added extra something by ensuring an inviting light glows in each and every window. It has become something of an annual event on his blog and he is not shy about sharing all of his tricks of the trade so that the readers can attempt to build a gingerbread house of their own.
4 Candy Castle
Fairytale children deserve a fairytale castle and this example from a 2013 Seattle Architects Gingerbread castle competition, seems like the perfect spot for our homeless siblings to set-up home in.
Not only is it a big and beautiful castle with plenty of places to run, play, hide, live, and laugh, but it is, as it should be, decorated in delightful candies for those times they felt a little peckish. Of course, the downside is that the current tenant appears to be the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, and she isn't known for her calm, stable, friendly nature.
3 Cascading Candy House
While a large number of gingerbread houses are little cottages and another large proportion are fairytale castles, every now and again someone decides to go out on a limb and create something completely different. This is a replica of the Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Falling Water home which took 12 hours to plan and 40 hours to build and decorate. There are 164 separate pieces of gingerbread which, in total cover a staggering 12 square feet.
If Hansel and Gretel feel like leaving the fairytale lifestyle behind, then this mid-century modern architectural legend recreated in gingerbread could be the perfect place for them.
2 The Governer's Crash Pad
Meanwhile, in Connecticut, 2013 saw the 3rd Annual Gingerbread House Festival at the Wood Memorial Library and Museum in South Windsor, Connecticut, Star of the show was this impressive replica of the Governors Mansion.
The icing snow frosted gingerbread home came complete with tiny lampposts, trees, and stonework driveway. In fact, we half expected to see little gingerbread limousines drive up to the front door and a bevy of beautiful gingerbread people to appear, all dressed for a Governors Christmas Ball.
1 If It Was Good Enough For George Washington...
This gingerbread house is an oh so sweet and sugary replica of Mount Vernon, George Washington's home. It was created as part of an event that challenged local people in Brenham, Texas to build gingerbread houses that were then auctioned off in aid of Habitat for Humanity.
This particular contribution was first laid out in cardboard and then, once the proportions were correct, the final product was carefully baked and built in just two weeks, complete with the tiled roof and ivy-covered columns.