Stephanie Santillo, Staff Writer
When one thinks of the holidays, they always thinks about a warm house filled with loving family coming together to celebrate and be merry. And how could this gathering be merry without some of grandma’s famous gingerbread cookies? Of course, gingerbread is the most anticipated dessert of the holiday season. This flavor conjures up warm memories of family and festivity. The scent of gingerbread filling the house welcomes home the weary college student and is something to look forward to every winter. Besides the good memories gingerbread brings to mind, the flavor itself is delicious, warm and spicy without being too sweet.
Moreover, gingerbread as a flavor has a long, loving backstory as a flavor. The warm, tasty blend of molasses, cloves, cinnamon and ginger has been baked for centuries.
Gingerbread is also more fun, because it’s only made at one time of year, whereas peppermint-flavored food is sold throughout the year. What is flavored peppermint that is so special to the holiday season? It’s certainly not peppermint gum, mints or other candy, which are all available outside of the holiday season. While peppermint is simply a flavoring in other foods (like ice cream, espresso drinks and hot chocolate), gingerbread is a stand-alone food whose lovable taste lends itself to beloved holiday products like gingerbread coffee creamer, gingerbread men marshmallow Peeps and gingerbread lattes. You can skip the peppermint, but is it even the holidays if there’s no gingerbread?
Hollie Lao, Campus Correspondent
There’s something quintessential about a flavor that can somehow evoke the feelings of crisp mornings and the chilly evening air of winter. The flavor that peppermint creates is so special because it recreates that tingly feeling in your mouth, reminiscent of how you imagine snowflakes to be when you catch them in your mouth.
Yes, it’s a flavor present all year round, but at the same time, peppermint is so amazing that it has to be. And that doesn’t detract from the special place it has in the holidays. I have always viewed gingerbread as a holiday flavor, but one mostly associated with Christmas, while peppermint encompasses all of winter and the holidays.
Gingerbread houses are nice to make, but I don’t know anyone who actually eats their gingerbread after making it, which is sad. And a witch used a gingerbread house to lure children and eat them, so that might be another reason for my wariness, even if I still do enjoy its flavor.
On the other hand, the chilly contrast peppermint creates with other flavors, such as chocolate or coffee, captures such a masterful, yet simple flavor. You don’t need to add candy or frosting to peppermint to make it taste good; it stands strong as its own flavor, and is only enhanced by others. Its genius is in its versatility, from drinks to food to its nostalgic scent, which is known as a stress reliever. And it makes your breath smell good! The candy cane theme is essential to the holidays, doubling as a food and a decoration. Its complexity and contrast is one that I have come to appreciate more and more with seasons past, and I can’t imagine snowfall, ice skating, family and all that is good about the holidays without peppermint.
Becca Maher, Staff Writer
There’s no one in the world who wasn’t a little jealous of Hansel and Gretel when they first stumbled across a life-size gingerbread house in the woods. Why’s that? Because gingerbread, while delicious on its own, is one of the few foods where it’s perfectly acceptable to stud the sides with tons of icing and candy. And this cookie and candy structure would be astronomical compared to our greedy hands and hungry mouths when we were children. I think we all knew the house was magic on some level before the witch came into the picture, but we weren’t afraid. If anything, we wanted to climb inside the house even more. And maybe that’s what we’re trying to capture as we construct replicas of our dream home on Christmas Eve: Our own belief in magic. And while peppermint is delightful in candy canes, it’s never screamed magic to me. Maybe it’s because I can’t fathom living inside it. Or maybe because it reminds us less of who we were as children and more of who we will be when we get older. On some level, we all want to lounge in the gingerbread houses of our childhood forever and never have to hobble around on our stiff candy canes.
Meghan Shaw, Campus Correspondent
Nothing beats sitting indoors in a comfortable chair, preferably with a warm drink, and looking out on a cold, snowy day in the middle of winter. The only flavor that can captures this cozy feeling is gingerbread. Whether it is added to coffee or baked into a fresh batch of cookies, gingerbread is the flavor of winter. As someone who doesn't like the cold, its sweet spiciness is a welcome contrast to the bitter cold of December. The flavor of peppermint, although still very seasonal and tasty, does not bring the same warmth as gingerbread. The icy feeling a candy cane leaves in your mouth is like being outside in the snow rather than inside under a warm blanket. Aside from the coziness it brings, the aroma of gingerbread draws up cheerful memories of building gingerbread houses, using an abundance of frosting to hold the roof on and decorating the outside with an assortment of candy. This isn’t to say that peppermint does not deserve its place as an esteemed holiday flavor, but to me it is less of a staple of the season. Peppermint candies were always ornaments on my gingerbread houses, but it wasn't a crime if I left them off. Winter is the same; peppermint is a nice addition, but without gingerbread, it wouldn't be winter at all.