ACU chef, students dedicate 'Texas-size' gingerbread house to Texas troops serving abroad


For immediate release
Dec. 11, 2001

In Texas, things tend to be a little bigger, and the 17-foot-high "Texas-size" gingerbread chapel on the campus of Abilene Christian University is no exception.

The gingerbread chapel is comprised of 85 sheets of gingerbread, 150 pounds of flour, 250 pounds of sugar, four gallons of egg whites for the icing, and nearly 4,000 pieces of candy.

Complete with a stately steeple reaching to the rafters, the giant gingerbread chapel greets students and visitors in the entryway to "The World Famous Bean" (ACU's cafeteria). State representative Bob Hunter has officially declared the gingerbread house to be "as big as Texas."

"We think it's likely to be the largest gingerbread chapel in the state and maybe in the country," said newly-hired executive chef Gary Tharp, who designed and constructed this large, edible structure with the help of ACU students. "It's a perfect match on this Christian university campus, and it reflects the enduring values of our nation and the spirit of the season."

Tharp and the students have dedicated the gingerbread chapel to America's troops serving abroad, particularly service members from Texas. They placed an American flag and a Texas flag on the top to signify the dedication.

"We want to honor them and do as President Bush instructed us -- move on with our lives but never forget," Tharp said. "The gingerbread chapel is also dedicated to our great president. While he cannot be at home this season, we are decorating Texas for him."

ACU's Department of Theatre helped with the construction by building a wooden frame for the structure, with a 10- by 24-foot base. The walls are primarily made of gingerbread, with cake icing used as glue and the nearly 4,000 pieces of candy for decoration.

The gingerbread project required quite a sacrifice of time by Tharp and the students who helped. The night of Nov. 27, Tharp and five students worked through the wee hours of the morning putting together the house, even as about eight inches of snow fell outside.

The house has become a popular attraction on campus, drawing students, faculty, staff and visitors. They want to have their pictures made in front of it, and occasionally try to sneak a nibble, Tharp said.

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Last update: Dec. 11, 2001

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