A gingerbread man is a biscuit or cookie made from gingerbread, usually in the shape of a stylized human being, although other shapes, especially seasonal themes (Christmas, Halloween, Easter, etc.) and characters are common too.
Gingerbread dates from the 15th century, and figurative biscuit-making was practised in the 16th century. The first documented instance of figure-shaped gingerbread biscuits was at the court of Elizabeth I of England. She had the gingerbread figures made and presented in the likeness of some of her important guests which brought the human shape of the gingerbread cookies.
Most gingerbread men share a roughly humanoid shape, with stubby feet and no fingers. Many gingerbread men have a face, though whether the features are indentations within the face itself or other candies stuck on with icing or chocolate varies from recipe to recipe. Other decorations are common; hair, shirt cuffs, and shoes are sometimes applied, but by far the most popular decoration is shirt buttons, which are traditionally represented by gum drops, icing, or raisins.
In world records
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world's largest gingerbread man was made by the staff of the IKEA Furuset store in Oslo, Norway, on 9 November 2009. The gingerbread man weighed 1435.2 pounds (651 kg).
"The Gingerbread Man" is a fairy tale about a gingerbread man who comes to life, outruns an elderly couple and various animals, and is devoured by a fox in the end.
Gingy is a talking gingerbread man character in the Shrek series of animated movies. He is derived from the fairy tale "The Gingerbread Man".
The Jasper Fforde comic detective novel The Fourth Bear features a more-than-human-sized gingerbread man who is a psychopathic serial killer that likes to pull off his victims' limbs. The difficulties in catching him are a reference to the fairy tale.
In the film The Brothers Grimm, a nightmarish twist on the Gingerbread Man appears. A young child is splashed with mud and the mud steals the child's eyes, nose and mouth. It then forms a small mud body with the child's stolen features for a face. The creature grabs the child and absorbs her into itself. It runs off yelling, "You can't catch me; I'm the Gingerbread Man!"
The first game in the Cookie Run series, Ovenbreak, is a runner game that puts players in the role of GingerBrave, a gingerbread man running to escape from the Witch's Oven. Subsequent games would introduce numerous other "Cookies", iterations of gingerbread men based on different combinations of ingredients and character archetypes.
In the Christmas special A Fairly Odd Christmas, Timmy and Crocker encounter a quartet of gingerbread men named GingerFred, GingerEd, GingerNed and GingerJed, but Crocker eats one of them, which causes them to chase them along with their friends.
There was a stop motion in the 1990s called The Gingerbread Man.
^300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles, Linda Campbell Franklin, 4th edition [Books Americana: New York] 1998 (p. 183)