Recently, I went to Trader Joe’s. It’s one of my favorite places to grocery shop, and their food usually never disappoints. While browsing the produce section, an employee offered me a cookie to taste. One bite in and probably for the first time at Trader Joe’s, I was thoroughly disappointed. I realized that the container said gingerbread cookies. That’s when I knew that gingerbread should be reserved for building houses. It’s weirdly spicy for a dessert, it kind of tastes like a cough drop, and the texture is akin to an extremely dry and stale shortbread cookie. But for some reason, every holiday season, the dessert we end up seeing is gingerbread. It’s like the winter version of pumpkin, except that people actually eat pumpkin.
Starbucks, of course, loves to capitalize on seasonal flavors. Their holiday menu includes a gingerbread latte and gingerbread loaf. But these items only seem to take a few characteristics of ginger flavored items and turn them into a watered down version. They taste mildly of ginger, and the spice makes you wish for a PSL instead. Ginger feels like the delinquent younger sibling that won’t ever measure up to Pumpkin, their perfect older sibling. When food strongly tastes of ginger it’s overwhelming, and when it’s watered down it doesn’t offer much. It’s a lose-lose situation. Compared to the fall months, the holidays can’t seem to hold their own in the food department. If someone doesn’t like pumpkin, there are tons of delicious apple products to enjoy. On the other hand, during the holidays, if you don’t like gingerbread, there’s not much to fall back on. Maybe peppermint or eggnog, but then again those two aren’t parituarly outstanding either. Although, the lackluster nature of gingerbread can’t be blamed entirely on the food itself. The most popular use of gingerbread is as a construction material. The stuff that companies try to pass of as “edible” is meant to be stand up on its own, so it doesn’t make for a great dessert.
The poor quality of the gingerbread found in kits have probably contributed to the bad reputation that it has. And maybe if more people had access to homemade gingerbread, it would have a bigger fan base. But even well made gingerbread ranks pretty low on my list of preferred desserts. There are so many options that are far better than gingerbread, which feels stale even when fresh out of the oven. Wouldn’t you want a rich chocolate chip cookie or a chewy, cinnamon snickerdoodle? Maybe I’ve yet to have great gingerbread, but for now it will be staying off my Christmas dinner table.
Arts & Culture Editor
Graphic: Amelia Chen