Run, run, as fast as you can,
You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.
That snappy rhyme is the best thing about this story. Otherwise, it’s all tragedy and disappointment.
Actually, now I come to think about it, it’s not even tragedy, because the Gingerbread Man is too one-dimensional (almost literally) and plain stupid to be a hero.
Oh, and I do feel so sorry for the childless woman who bakes him, only for the ungrateful creature to run away to his doom.
The story of the Gingerbread Man has been around since 1875, and it’s been re-written again and again, so perhaps this is a great story, after all.
I think my favourite nod towards it is in Diana Wynne Jones’ marvellous book Charmed Life. Mrs Sharp is a rubbish witch:
As a rule, gingerbread men were fun. They leapt up off the plate and ran when you tried to eat them...it was a fair fight, and some got away. But Mrs Sharp’s gingerbread men...simply lay, feebly waving their arms, and Cat never had the heart to eat them.
The first gingerbread men we know about were made in the shape of important guests to the court of Elizabeth the First of England.
The biggest gingerbread man was made in Smithville, Texas, and stood over 6m high...
...which is enough, personally, to give me nightmares.
Word To Use Today: gingerbread. The word ginger might come from the Sanskrit śrnga*, which means horn, plus vera, which means body. Or on the other hand the word might be Dradivian.
*The n in this word should have a line over it, but I'm afraid I don't know how to type this.