For many folks, the sight of a gingerbread house conjures up candy-cane wishes and gum-drop dreams every holiday. It seems nearly every town has a gingerbread display, from charming square homes placed on small plots of royal icing to gigantic, life-size ginger-mansions and cities brimming with enough candy to make Willy Wonka jealous.
While gingerbread has been around for centuries and ginger even longer, gingerbread houses became popular in the 19th century. Many credit the Brothers Grimm and the publication of their fairy tale Hansel and Gretel for popularizing the pastime of crafting candy-crusted gingerbread homes (or just buying really cool already decorated varieties like these 7 Gingerbread Houses to Buy). German settlers ultimately brought the tradition to the U.S., where gingerbread houses come in all shapes and sizes; some more over-the-top than others.
In the past two decades, hotels, casinos, and theme parks have magnified the basic do-it-yourself gingerbread homes into grandiose gingerbread displays. From a 17-foot gingerbread ship docked at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island in Florida to a life-size gingerbread house at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., to a life-size gingerbread carousel at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, The Daily Meal has found the 12 most outrageous gingerbread displays of 2013.
These edible creations are so irresistible that we won’t blame you if you sneak a bite as well as a peek.
Lauren Mack is The Daily Meal’s New York City Travel editor. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.