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The Tale of Ginger-Barad-dur

Thirty people were chosen at random to be part of the gingerbread house building contest, and each chosen person got to bring a friend to help them build. My roommate and I had been chattering excitedly about what we would build if we were competing for a few days before she got the call from the people at the cafeteria inviting her to take part in the contest. How much of our good fortune was due to luck, and how much of it was due to stuffing the ballot box, we will never know.

We arrived at the cafeteria half and hour early, spent ten minutes eating, and then stared at the wall for twenty minutes. Finally it was time to be let in to the gingerbread house area. We'd been fretting about whether the internal cardboard frame we'd built would be allowed, but we breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that each contestant was actually given a cardboard house-shape around which to build. We were also each given four walls and two roof slabs made of gingerbread, plus access to frosting and candy decorations. We were allowed to bring our own candy, too, but we found out once we were there that we hadn't really brought anything that wasn't already provided.

Starting materials

The starting materials provided for each contestant: a cardboard house frame, gingerbread in the shape of four walls and two roof slaps (wrapped in paper), and a round base.

We frightened and alarmed everyone around us when we set to work with scissors on our provided cardboard frame. We also incorporated the tube from a roll of wrapping paper, which we'd brought with us.

Cardboard shell

Here is what our internal cardboard frame looked like.

Continuing our destructive rampage, we began destroying the house-bits. I prefered to crumble the gingerbread slabs in my fingers, while my partner put them in a plastic bag and rammed the repeatedly against the windowsill.

We worked for the next two hours with tons of frosting and black licorice, which we'd chosen to give the tower a twisted, black, ropy, creepy appearance, and to vaguely allude to the mini-towers that make up the whole. We got a lot of strange looks.

Finally, we had what looked pretty recognizable, despite being sloppy and covered with dried white frosting-goo even in places where it should have been black and forboding. Adding a cap made of black licorice, including a licorice wheel, and peace rings to represent the giant eye really helped. Then we went to town with Christmas decor. Even Sauron loves Christmas! (Though I suspect he's mainly in it for the commercialism.)

Completed tower

The completed tower.


Note the little green gummy bear Gollum clutching a giant yellow M&M-mini One Ring.

We were the first people to leave the gingerbread floor, I think, but we returned the next day to see our tower displayed with all the completed houses. We didn't think to bring the camera, but there was nothing to see, really; it was pretty grim. They put our masterpiece off at the end of the table, kind of behind somebody else's house. Although it was taller than the other houses, it was barely even noticeable unless you were looking for it. And the judges, composed mainly of freshman girls, weren't our ideal demographic. We heard more than one respond to it with "What is THAT?" One girl said disdainfully, "That isn't even a HOUSE." Well... no.

So winners we were not, except in our own hearts. But we'll always remember this as the Christmas of Ginger-Barad-dur.

Maybe next year, we'll make candy orcs. That'll sway 'em.


- Laura