One of my absolute favorite childhood memories involves giant gingerbread men.
Okay, not THAT giant.
Whenever Mom and Dad drove (some distance) to the mall in San Bernardino (CA), they would do their shopping and afterwards, if we had been good, we would stop at the gingerbread shop to get 12” tall gingerbread boys with NECCOs for eyes and buttons.
NECCOs are a 1” candy disc in pastel colors and unique flavors. According to the NECCO website, “Due to its enduring popularity, the original recipe for the NECCO Wafer has remained essentially unchanged over the years, and the Wafers today are still made in the same original eight flavors of chocolate, licorice, cinnamon, lemon, lime, orange, wintergreen and clove!”
To a child under six, getting a 12” cookie with candy on it was a thrill beyond description. Not only were the gingerbread boys 12” tall, but they were nearly an inch thick. They were soft and chewy and smelled wonderful.
I can remember how the shop looked with lots of pink and brown. Between the seating booths, there was a divider painted like a gingerbread wall. The floor had white and black tiles. In front of the wide mall entrance to the store there was a white picket fence with gingerbread decorations. The fence directed where they wanted the line to form. Sometimes we’d get the cookies to go but my favorite was when we’d eat there so I could smell the cookies baking and take in all the sensory details. It wasn’t just food. It was an experience and, even at that young age, I recognized that fact.