Byers' Choice Traditions
Decorative Cookie Molds and
"Ginger Cookie" Ornaments
The Byers family discovered woodcarver Oldrich Kvapil's workshop while exploring the back streets of Prague several years ago.
They were intrigued by his hand-carved wooden cookie molds. Oldrich comes from a storied tradition of woodcarvers and puppet makers. He is a self-taught carver
of gingerbread molds, a lost art that dates back to the 14th century. Today, antique molds, once used by the local baker, can be seen in museums throughout
Traditions by Byers' Choice Ltd. has commissioned Oldrich to carve a series of decorative
molds to bring this special tradition to your home. The Traditions' Cookie Molds feature Christmas scenes in two sizes and make unique, beautiful decorations
for around the house, especially the kitchen. Traditions by Byers' Choice Ltd. has also recreated a series of "ginger cookie" ornaments to enhance your
Cookie Molds and "Ginger Cookie" Ornaments Are For Decorative Use Only!
Lebkuchen's (gingerbread) origin is German and dates back more than 600 years. It is believed that gingerbread most likely originated in the
monasteries. At that time, ginger was found to have a preservative effect when added to pastries and bread, and this probably led to the development of
recipes for ginger cakes, cookies and flavored breads. The manufacture of gingerbread appears to have spread throughout Western Europe at the end of the
eleventh century. From its very beginning, gingerbread has been a fairground delicacy. Many fairs became known as "gingerbread fairs." Gingerbread-making was
eventually recognized as a profession in itself. In the seventeenth century, gingerbread bakers had the exclusive right to make it,
except at Christmas and Easter.
Gifted craftsmen carved intricate wooden molds; artists assisted with decorating the gingerbread in frosting or gold paint. Incredibly fancy hearts, angels,
wreaths and other festive shapes were sold at fairs, carnivals and markets. If a fair honored a town's patron saint, the saint's image might have been
stamped into the gingerbread you would buy. If the fair were on a special market day, the cakes would probably be decorated with an edible icing to look
like men, animals, valentine hearts or flowers. Sometimes the dough was simply cut into round "snaps."
Certain shapes were associated with different seasons: buttons and flowers were found at Easter fairs, and animals and birds were a feature in Autumn.
During the nineteenth century, gingerbread was both modernized and romanticized. When the Grimm brothers collected volumes of German fairy tales, they
found one about Hansel and Gretel.
Gingerbread making in North America has its origins in the traditions of the many settlers from all parts of Northern Europe who brought with them family
recipes and customs. By the nineteenth century, America had been baking gingerbread for decades. American recipes usually called for fewer spices than
their European counterparts, but often made use of ingredients that were only available regionally. Maple syrup gingerbreads were made in New England;
and in the South, sorghum molasses was used.