closeup of a gingerbread man cookie in a cup of coffee topped with some marshmallows with different shapes, on a gray rustic wooden table, against a dark gray backgrounw with some blank space on top
The Royal Medieval Origins Of Gingerbread Cookies
By Elias Nash
“Gingerbread" initially referred to preserved ginger rather than a dessert, and in certain regions of the world, gingerbread was a term for spiced baked goods that didn’t even have ginger. The gingerbread cookies we know today didn't come about until the 16th century, when versions of them began popping up all over medieval Europe.
Gingerbread cookies appeared in England, France, and Germany during the 1500s, and Nuremberg gained particular fame for its “lebkuchen,” gingerbread cookies that were shaped like valentine's hearts and inscribed with romantic messages. PBS also credits 16th-century Germany with the invention of gingerbread houses.
The origin of gingerbread men can be traced to Queen Elizabeth I, who employed a royal gingerbread maker to supply desserts for her royal banquets. Elizabeth reportedly asked her cooks to create gingerbread cookies in the shape of her courtiers and foreign dignitaries, the latter of which could be handed out in a gesture of diplomacy.