Traditions Club gained worldwide notoriety with its 39,201.8-cu.-sq.-ft., Guinness-world-record-setting gingerbread house.
When Bill Horton, General Manager of the Traditions Club, suggested that the Bryan, Texas club take a shot at building the world’s largest gingerbread house, he hoped to get some local media coverage out of the effort. Instead, the club gained worldwide notoriety—a Google search now yields page after page of stories about the club’s achievement from CNN, Reuters, and dozens of other prominent media outlets, on both a national and international scale.
The focus of all that coverage has been Traditions’ achieving a new Guinness world record with a 39,201.8-cu.-sq.-ft. creation comprised of 2,500 lbs. of candy and treats, plus gingerbread “bricks” made up of 1,800 lbs. of butter, 7,200 eggs, and 7,200 lbs. of flour—not to mention 36 million calories.
With the help of donations, sponsors, staff and countless volunteers, the club created the structure using a wooden frame (the house had to be properly permitted, and all disassembled building materials were donated to Habitat for Humanity after it was torn down on January 7).
Perhaps the riskiest aspect of building the house was its outdoor location—the Texas humidity proved to be the primary construction obstacle, and volunteers found they had to scale back on butter in the gingerbread recipe to keep the bricks from dripping off the walls, Horton reports.
After the club broke the previously held record of 36,000 sq. ft., warm temperatures brought a new, unforeseen threat to the house’s stability. “Thousands of bees were attracted to it,” Horton says. “But they were so enamored of the sugar, they didn’t sting anyone.”
And the bees were at least considerate enough to leave the house around 5:30 p.m. each day—ideal timing for the visiting hours of 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. (the club invited the public to enjoy its creation up until December 14, charging $3 for adults and $2 for kids, with all proceeds going to the St. Joseph Hospital trauma center).
Even after the structure was built, Horton says volunteers had to maintain the house each day, either from gingerbread falling off, or hungry/curious visitors. In preparation, the club baked 300 extra pieces of “maintenance” gingerbread. “So much was trial and error,” Horton says. “If we were to do it again tomorrow, it would be much easier. We learned so much…but this first go-around was scary.”