Advent Gingerbread Story

The ADVENTures of J.J. Gingerbread XXIV – December 24th – Christmas Eve


Dasher worked hard all through the day and night crossing over eight European countries.  The air was bitterly cold.  The Seven Sisters were used to it of course, but the other three needed the massive, furry blanket that lay on the sleigh.  They pulled it over them and slept most of the night.

The sleigh touched down in Germany as the sun was rising.

“I understand you have some work to do here today,” Dasher said to Joey.

“I guess so,” said Joey.

“Hop to it boy,” said Dasher.  “I’ve got to drop these two off in Denmark, then head up to the North Pole to load the big sleigh.  We’ll be back here with the full sleigh, the full team, and Santa Claus to pick you up.  Be ready to go.”

Joey looked at Princess Honning, then at Agent BAK, then back at Princess Honning.

“I’ll miss you,” he said staring into her crystal blue eyes.

“I’ll miss you too,” she said.

“I’ll come visit you once we get things straightened out around here,” said Joey.

“I’d like that very much,” she said.

“Alright, alright.  Enough of the mushy stuff.  This is a big day, and we’ve got a schedule to keep.”  Dasher’s hooves pawed the snow restlessly.

“Where are we to go?” said the Seven Sisters.

“I was told you were to go with him,” said Dasher.  He nodded at Joey.  The sisters slowly glided off the sleigh.  They were completely exhausted from the energy they had expended destroying the ice.

“Me?” said Joey.

“Yes you, kid,” said Dasher.  “Santa said you’d figure out.  Something about it being a sticky problem that would swirl around in your head.”

With that, Dasher leapt into the air and was gone in a flash.

“Do you know what Santa meant?” asked Maia.

“No idea,” said Joey.

They trudged over the hill and looked into the valley below.  Joey’s idyllic Gingerbread Village was in shambles.  Roofs were torn off, colorful bits of gingerbread houses floated in the chocolate river, and whole gingerbread houses were lying on their sides.  He broke into a run and didn’t stop until he reached Gingerbread Manor.

Part of the beautiful manor had burned down.  He didn’t have to open the door because it was not longer there.  He stepped carefully inside.  The Seven Sisters caught up and followed him in.

“Mom?  Dad?  Jillian?” he called.

“Who’s that?  I’ll be right there, I’m just drying off my hands,” it was his mother’s voice.  The sound of it made his eye well up.

“May I help you?” his mother looked at him then gasped.  “Oh Joey, is it really you?”  She squeezed him so tightly he thought he was going to ooze molasses.  “J.J., Jillian, it’s Joey!  He’s home!”

Joey’s dad and sister rounded the corner and they all fell into a tearful embrace.

His mother kept saying, “We thought we’d lost you,” and then, “Just look at this mess.” And she would laugh through her tears and point at all the molasses teardrops covering the floor.

Joey introduced the Seven Sisters to the family.  They exchanged the tales of the past couple of weeks since the storm had hit.

“Joey, you know you’ll have to ride with Santa tonight,” said his father.

“I know Dad.  Augie told me.  I can do it,” he said.

“That’s my boy.  I knew you could,” said his father.  “Now, we need to figure out how to get the ovens started so that we can get the gingerbread cookies ready in time for Santa.  There’s no electricity, and nobody’s been able to start a fire.  All the matches were soaked during the storm, and we’ve no flint.”

“Let’s head down to the factory Dad,” said Joey.  “I think I have an idea.”

They picked their way through the piled up gumdrops and slippery cobblesprees in the streets.  Part of the factory had burned down in the fire, but there were still enough ovens left to get the job done.

The Seven Sisters began to spin, and as they did so, sparks flew into the kindling that Joey had piled into the ovens.

gingerbread-men-lined-up-in-row“She’s lit!” his mother exclaimed.  “Let’s start baking.”

The lovely Christmas aroma of baking gingerbread brought all of the townspeople out.  Their dour faces transformed into sunny smiles as they realized that life would indeed begin anew.  With everyone helping, they amassed thousands and thousands of gingerbread cookies for Santa to deliver that night.

A tiny gingerbread girl tugged at Joey’s arm.  “Please Joey, did you get the cotton candy machine to work?  That’s my favorite.”  He looked at the disheveled girl.  The storm had clearly been hard on her.

“Let’s give it a try,” said Joey.  He scooped her up and walked over to the machine.  With no electricity, it wouldn’t start.  Joey rigged it up to an old stationary bike.  He began peddling very hard.  The machine started to spin and Joey’s sister Jillian gathered up the fluffy confection on a cone, and handed it to the little girl.

cotton_candy_cone“Thanks!” she beamed.

Amidst all the work, Joey had nearly forgotten about getting the Seven Sisters home.  Then it hit him.  If he could get the cotton candy machine to spin fast enough, perhaps he could launch the sisters back into space!  A sticky problem that would swirl around in your head…

He and Jillian dragged the machine and stationary bike outside.  He helped position the sisters inside.

“But it’s so sticky,” said one.

“I hope this works,” said another.

“I think the gingerbread boy is cute,” said another.

“Be quiet Electra,” said yet another.

“Ladies, please!  Position yourselves and prepare for one last burst of energy.  This must work or our flame shall go out on this planet,” said Maia.  “Joey, thank you and good luck.”

Joey pumped harder than he had ever pumped in his life.  The gingerbread frame creaked and the taffy handlebars started to bend as the wheels spun faster and faster.  The cotton candy drum was spinning so fast that the sisters looked like a continuous streak of ice blue light.

Electricity crackled in the air.  Joey’s crust prickled.

“Bam!”  A thunderous bolt of lightning shot through the air.

The Seven Sisters launched from the machine and blazed into the sky.

reindeer and sleigh with Joey fxMinutes later, Santa Claus arrived right on schedule with Rudolf leading the other eight reindeer.  The Gingerbreadians loaded the sleigh with the delicious smelling gingerbread cookies.

“Mmmm, my favorite Christmas smell.   Are you ready for a big night my boy?” said Santa.

“Yes sir,” said Joey.

“You’re a good boy Joey.  And soon you’ll be a good man.  You’ve learned one of life’s most important lessons during this awful storm.  It is what’s inside you that counts.  It makes no difference how you look on the outside.  Greatness is about the decisions you make and what is in your heart.”

“Merry Christmas to all!” he shouted to the Gingerbreadians.  “Away!” he shouted to the reindeer.

As they rose in the sky, the Pleiades star cluster was particularly sparkly.  Joey nestled close to Santa and thought he must be the happiest gingerbread boy in the world.

Merry Christmas from The Solvang Bakery!

Fun Fact:

  • Reindeer are members of the deer family and most live way up north in the Subarctic and Arctic regions, including the region called Lapland.  The reindeer that are not busy pulling Santa’s sleigh, are sometimes used to pull ‘pulks’, which are sleighs or toboggans, used either for sport or to transport goods.


by J.P. Farrell 


The ADVENTures of J.J. Gingerbread XXIV: December 23rd – Alive, a Kringle, and a Sweet Ride


The team had worked through the ice until the sun sat too low in the sky for their laser beam to work.  The water had flowed so quickly that the boat sped past Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova, and was now gliding through Ukraine.

The humans had all cheered and let them pass untouched back to their rooms in the medical ward.  For their last night, Queen Moswen slept in Princess Honning’s room, along with the Seven Sisters.  Agent BAK, ever the professional, had stood guard.

Augie slept at the foot of Joey’s bed.  When Nurse Schlimm delivered the morning tray, Augie didn’t even need to hide.

“Morning ma’am,” he said to Nurse Schlimm.

“Yes, I suppose it is,” she said.  “You appear to be Master of the Obvious.”  Then turning to Joey, she said, ”Enjoy your breakfast Joseph.  I suspect you’re quite hungry today.”

“Thanks Nurse Schlimm.  I am pretty hungry,” said Joey.  The nurse managed the smallest of smiles, then turned and left.

“Boy, she’s a real live one,” said Augie.  “I bet she’s been two barrels of fun.”

“She really scared me at first,” said Joey.  “But now I’m kind of used to her.”

“You sure you still want me to go today?” asked Augie.

“It’s the only way Augie,” said Joey.  “You’re the only one I can trust to get Queen Moswen safely to Egypt.  And it will take your connections to get her there in time.”

“Yeah, old Johnny won’t let me down.  We’ve stayed in pretty good touch since the academy.  I know he can get us on a speed craft today and drop Queen Moswen down to the Nile Delta by tomorrow morning,” said Augie.  “Say Joey, I know it’s hard, but uh, maybe we should talk about your family.”

Joey took a deep breath.   “Are Mom and Dad … are they …. dead Augie?”

“Dead?  Is that what you thought Joey?  Heavens no, they’re not dead.  They sent me off to look for you the moment the blizzards stopped.  Your dad was really angry he couldn’t come himself.  He got pretty banged up trying to help people.  He’s missing half his leg, and your mom took out a chunk of her shoulder.  They both lost a lot of molasses and are too weak to travel.”

“And Jillian?” asked Joey.  “Is she … whole?”

“She’ll be alright.  A few chunks missing here and there, but she’ll be okay.”

Joey was so relieved he hardly knew what to do with himself.  The uncomfortable knot of dough that had been sitting in his tummy vanished.  A broad smile stretched across his brown face.

“Hey Joey,” said Augie.  “You realize, you’ll need to accompany Santa tomorrow night, right?  Neither your dad nor your mom can make such a journey.  It would do them in.  And your sister is just too young.”

“But how can I get home to make the journey Augie?” said Joey.

“I might be able to help with that.”  It was Doctor Delicious.  Joey had been so focused on the state of his family that he hadn’t noticed the doctor enter the room.

“But how Doc?” asked Joey.

“Remember when I told you my name was Doctor David Delicious?”

“Yes,” said Joey.

“Well, that’s not entirely true,” said the doctor.  “Then again, it’s not untrue either.  My full name is David Delicious Kringle.”

“But I still don’t…”

“Joey,” the doctor interrupted, “my cousin’s name is Kris.”

Joey paused.  “You mean you’re Santa’s cousin?!”

“In the half-Elven flesh,” said the doctor.

“But, you said you’d never seen magical creatures,” said Joey.

“Other than my cousin, I hadn’t until you came along,” said Dr. Delicious.  “We only saw my cousins a few times at Christmas many centuries ago.  They lived all the way up in Lapland in Finland.”

“But aren’t you magical then?” asked Joey.

“Mostly no.  I’m only half-Elven.  I was born with a mind for medicine, but without Kris’s magical powers.  It would have been easy to be jealous of his magic, but you see Joey, we all have special gifts to give the world.  Mine is being a doctor and helping sick people.  That’s really Santa’s message and a big part of the message of Christmas.  Take the gifts you’ve been given and go out and do good things in the world.  Give something back with your gifts, just like Santa gives gifts.”

“Now, enough about that.  While I was watching you bravely breaking up the ice yesterday, that young lady bent my ear a bit.”

“You mean Princess Honning?” asked Joey.

“Yes, that’s the one.  One of the few bits of magic that I possess is the ability to contact my cousin,” said the doctor.  “That and a pretty long life span.”  He winked at Joey.

“Follow me,” said the doctor.

They followed the doctor to Princess Honning’s room.  Per the doctor’s instruction, they said good-bye to Queen Moswen and Augie.

“Good luck getting back,” Joey said to the queen.  “And thanks again for saving me from that awful Helmut guy.”

“It was nothing,” squeaked the queen.  “I offer my gratitude for seeing me to my safe and timely passage home.”

“Take care of her,” he said to Augie.  Augie stood at attention.

Princess Honning, Agent BAK, and the Seven Sisters all bid their farewells.

“Quickly now,” said the doctor.  They hurriedly followed him to the top of the ship.  The view of the Black Sea stretched out before them.

fx gingerbread reindeer dasher story solvang bakery“There it is,” said the doctor.

Joey heard far off bells.  He looked up just in time to see a sleigh pulled by a single reindeer descend from the heavens.

“Hey Doc,” said the reindeer.

“How’ve you been Dasher?” asked the doctor.

“Feeling fit Doc, feeling fit.”

“These the folks?” Dasher nodded toward the magical creatures.

“Yes, take good care of them Dasher,” said Dr. Delicious.

“Will do Doc.  Chop, chop.  Hop in.  I’ve got to be back to the North Pole by tomorrow.”

Princess Honning, Agent BAK, Joey, and the Seven Sisters climbed aboard the sleigh and were off.

Fun Fact:

  • Santa Claus lives way up at the top of the Earth at the North Pole in a place called Lapland in Finland.



The ADVENTures of J.J. Gingerbread XXIV: December 22nd – A Homemade Laser and Poseidon

To everyone’s relief, the next day dawned with a brilliant sunrise.  After breakfast and final preparations, the group assembled on the deck.  At 11:45 a.m., Agent BAK and Augie had worked their way to the door of the Captain’s Bridge.

Augie tapped on the glass window of the door, then ducked.  The first mate stepped out, but tripped over Agent BAK who had stretched himself like a rope across the threshold.  The captain stepped out to help him up.  Before they knew what was happening, Augie and Agent BAK had slipped into the bridge and locked the door behind them.  The captain and first mate pounded on the glass, but Augie and Agent BAK just ignored them.  They pulled the cord of the great ship’s whistle.

“That’s our signal,” said Joey.

“Are you sure you want to go through with this?” asked Princess Honning.  “It’s terribly dangerous.  If you’re off by only a few millimeters it will disintegrate you.”

“I’m the only one who can do it,” said Joey, “so I must.”  Princess Honning kissed his cheek.  Joey’s brown cheeks glowed crimson.

shooting-icebergs-fxThe Seven Sisters hovered over the center of the deck.  Joey stood at the bow and slightly to the side.  The sun bore down on them from above.  The Seven Sisters grew and glowed and sparked.  Brighter and brighter they became until a hot, sizzling beam of light shot from them straight at Joey’s head.

Joey braced himself and caught the beam perfectly square on the plate on his forehead.  He reflected the white hot beam into the massive chunks of ice that blocked the ship’s path.  They exploded the moment the beam struck them.

As Joey concentrated, a single voice rose from the sisters.  It was Alcyone.

“Oh great Poseidon, God of the Seven Seas.  Let the waters of the mighty Danube flow faster than ever before.  I shall be home to you soon.”

Joey had to concentrate even harder now.  The ship began to move with tremendous speed.  Joey deftly moved his head to guide the beam.  It struck iceberg after iceberg, exploding them into little ice cubes.  At such high speeds, a single iceberg would sink the ship.

Joey was just barely aware of the land that was speeding by their sides.  Queen Moswen sat on Princess Honning’s shoulder.  Together, they kept guard.  Many humans approached, but none confronted them.  They were in awe of what was taking place…and too frightened to spoil the miracle that was occurring before them.

Fun Facts:

  • Alcyone is the brightest star in the Pleiades constellation, and Poseidon was one of her boyfriends.
  • In Greek mythology, Poseidon was God of the Sea, and the brother of Zeus.  Alcyone was one of his girlfriends.
  • Lasers are made of light, but they are different than sunlight.  They have just one color or wavelength of light, plus all of the waves of light travel together (coherent).  Finally, all the waves are traveling in the same direction. Scientists call this collimated light.



The ADVENTures of J.J. Gingerbread XXIV: December 21st – Four Days Left and Alcyone Speaks


After much back-slapping and congratulating each other, the group had settled in for a well-deserved night’s rest.  sugar-iv-bag-sm-solvang-bakeryNext morning, the daily routine of Nurse Schlimm delivering the tray of morning goodies went off without a hitch.  Joey and Princess Honning had found an IV bag filled with sugar water, which they had hooked up to Augie.  He was almost back to full strength.  The Seven Sisters, on the other hand, seemed to be losing strength.  There was nothing on the ship to feed them.

Once again, Joey heard the doctor’s footsteps in the hall.  Everybody took their hiding places.

“Morning Joey,” said the doctor.

“Morning Doc,” said Joey.

“I suppose you heard that we’re underway again,” said the doctor.

“Yeah, I noticed.  Seems like we’re moving kind of slowly though.”

“Yes, even though the ice has cracked a bit, we need it to break up more in order to move faster.   We desperately need to get to those people.  At least it’s another sunny day.  Maybe it will start to warm up.”

“How long do you think it will take to get to the Black Sea?” Joey asked.

“Oh, I suspect it will still take a week or so at this rate,” said the doctor.  “Won’t be much of a Christmas for folks down there.  I spoke to a fisherman who said it’s even worse in the North Sea.  He was Hungarian so I didn’t understand him well.  It sounded like the ships were crashing up there.  Something about the stars and constellations being in some strange configuration.  It didn’t make any sense, but it didn’t sound good.”

Joey wondered if that had something to do with the Seven Sisters.  Then he realized he had no idea what day it was.  He felt a slow panic rising even in his normally calm molasses body.

“Doctor Delicious,“ he said slowly, “what’s today?”

“Today?  Why it’s December 21st, just four days until Christmas son.”

“Four days?!” said Joey.

“I’m afraid so Joey,” said the doctor.

The moment the door shut behind the doctor, the room was abuzz with planning.  Most of the ideas were going nowhere.

“Look, we all need to get home,” said Princess Honning.  “But the first thing to do is get Queen Moswen back to Egypt.”

“But how?” the queen demanded.

“I think I may know how.” The sister’s voice was unfamiliar.

“How Alcyone?” said Maia.

“We must all assemble on the deck at high noon tomorrow,” said Alcyone.  “Between now and then, we must be silent and gather all of our strength.  In addition, we must pray for another day of bright sunshine.”

Fun Fact:

  • In Greek mythology, Maia is the oldest of the seven beautiful sisters of the Pleiades.  Her son is Hermes, the speedy messenger god.

by J. P. Farrell



The ADVENTures of J.J. Gingerbread XXIV: December 20th – Ghosts


joey-and-augie-2013They pushed hard to get back to the ship.  Fortunately, it had hardly moved due to the ice floes.  Joey had a million questions that he wanted to ask Augie, but he couldn’t bear to ask them in front of his friends.

They managed to slip in behind the back of the ship just as the sun was setting.  They secured the lifeboat with a rope, then climbed the circular stairs to their deck.  As they came around the corner to the long stretch of promenade, Joey ran straight into Helmut, the night watchman.

“Hah!” he grabbed Joey by his red scarf.  “Dirk!  I’ve found them!”  His filthy breath assaulted Joey’s keen sense of smell.  “Hurry, there’s a hoard of them!”

Joey tried to wrestle loose from his dirty grip.  The more he fought, the tighter the scarf drew around his neck.  Queen Moswen squeaked as she was squeezed in his scarf.  The others tried to pull Joey away from Helmut, but he was too strong.

Another man came racing around from the opposite direction.  In the dim light, Joey recognized the man from the night before.

“Look out!” Joey yelled to his friends.  They turned to see the other man running toward them.

“Grab ‘em Dirk!” yelled Helmut.

Agent BAK said something quickly to Princess Honning and Augie.  Unraveling out of his pretzel shape, he stretched across the walkway.  Attaching to a doorstop on one side and a rope cleat on the other, he was just in time to trip Helmut’s hurrying partner.  Dirk flew through the air landing hard at Joey’s feet.  He lifted his head and Joey kicked him with all his might.

The princess had lifted Augie in the air.  She swung him around and hooked the candy cane around Helmut’s leg.  She yanked as hard as she could and Helmut toppled over freeing Joey in the process.  Helmut tried to stand, bracing his hand on the deck.  But he couldn’t.  His hands were stuck in a very sticky white substance that covered the deck around him.  Looking closely, Joey saw an eye wink at him.  It was Queen Moswen.  She had morphed into marshmallow cream.

ghostly-single-princess-honning-the-solvang-bakeryAn enormous full moon now shone down on the deck.  Princess Honning began to glow brighter and brighter.  As she became more and more luminescent, Joey saw a look of panic move across Helmut’s evil face.  Joey had an idea.

“Great magical ghost,” said Joey to the princess.  She gave him a puzzled look.

“Tell these evil doers what will happen to them if they do not leave magical creatures alone,” said Joey.

The princess nodded seeming to understand what Joey was trying to do.  In a most imperious and haunting voice she said, “Evil humans!  You are never to bother magical creatures again.  They are protected by a host of magical ghosts like me who will haunt your every waking moment.”

The Seven Sisters wedged themselves under Princess Honning’s feet and lifted.  The glowing princess rose in the air, sparks flying from her feet.

“Now run and never be seen near us again!”

Queen Moswen returned to her normal marshmallow shape and rolled out of the way.  Helmut and Dirk scrambled to their feet and ran off without ever looking back.




The ADVENTures of J. J. Gingerbread: December 19 – Merope and August

The black wolf lay dead.  Its fangs and tongue hung from its frightening mouth.

Queen Moswen began speaking to Joey.

“She says that with the alpha male destroyed, you’ll have time to rebuild your city.  It will take a while for the pack to fight it out and decide who will be their new leader,” said Joey to the trio.

The disks rolled gleefully back and forth in the snow.  Johannes did a face plant and was awkwardly helped to his feet by his brothers.  Everyone chuckled.  Snow stuck to his raspberry jam.  He looked like a miniature Santa Claus.

“We must return to the ship before they miss us,” said Princess Honning.

“And before the night watchman starts his rounds,” said Agent BAK.  “But before we go, where did that arrow come from?  I never saw a hunter.  I never saw anybody for that matter.”

“It was I.”  The voice belonged to the youngest star, Merope.  “My sisters may tease me about my love for Orion, the great hunter in the sky, but when I need him, he is there for me.”

The sisters buzzed and spoke over each other.

“Merope is correct,” said Maia.  “Orion’s heavenly arrows aim true.  We owe our lives to him…and to our youngest sister.”

They all thanked Merope and then climbed back into the lifeboat.  As before, the going was arduous.  As the largest of the crew, Joey and Princess Honning handled the heavy oars made for humans.  Agent BAK perched at the bow.  He unraveled himself so he could point the direction to aim the boat.  When they needed to slow due to ice blocks, he contorted into the shape of a cautionary triangle.

candy-cane-gingerbread-story-solvang-bakery-fx“What’s that on the ice?” said Queen Moswen.

“Where?” said the princess.

“There,” said the queen, nodding to the left.

A pink colored object lay on a snow covered ice block as it bobbed in the water.  They veered left and headed toward it.

“What are you doing?” asked Agent BAK.  “We have no time for detours.  The night watchman will rise in less than an hour.”

“We just want to make sure it’s not alive,” said Princess Honning.

“It looks like a candy cane,” said Joey.

“Not a candy cane that I’ve ever seen,” huffed Queen Moswen.

“Well I don’t exactly look like a Gingerbreadian any more either,” said Princess Honning, “but that doesn’t mean I’m not one.”

Queen Moswen ignored her.  As they drew up next to the mini iceberg, it was still difficult to determine what the object was.  Joey nudged it gently with his oar.  It sounded like glass as Joey tapped it.

“It’s just some trash that washed up on the ice after the storm,” said Agent BAK.  “Come on, let’s get going.”

“Oooohh,” the thing groaned.

Joey crawled out of the boat onto the iceberg.  “Hello there,” said Joey bending low.  “Are you alright?”

“Do I look alright?” said the thing.  Its gruff voice was in sharp contrast to its pastel pink color.  “Tap me with that thing again and you’ll wonder what hit you.”  The thing writhed on the iced.  “Although right now I’m wondering what hit me.”

“August?” said Joey.  “Augie is that you?”

“How do you know my name?” the thing said.

“How do I know your name?” said Joey.  “You’ve been our door-cane since before I was born!”

“Joseph?  Is that you Joseph?” The thing shook its head.  “It can’t be…what happened Joseph…your eye…your head.”

Joey bent his head low.  A dark molasses tear dropped onto the white snow.

“I guess we’ve both seen better days, huh pal?” said August.

“Yes,” said Joey quietly.  “Your, your color Augie.  What happened to you?”

“There was a pretty big fire in Gingerbread Village Joey.  It started just after you disappeared.  I pulled your sister from the house.  The heat from the fire melted me down…all my crisp red stripes bled into my white…I’m just pink now.  Who ever heard of a pink candy cane Joey?”

“Who ever heard of a one-eyed J.J. Gingerbread?  We’ll be okay Augie.  I’m sure you’re as brittle and minty as you ever were,” said Joey.

“Ahem,” said Agent BAK.  “Pardon me gentlemen.  I hate to interrupt the family reunion, but we must return to the ship at once.”  Though the day had been cold and cloudy, a low winter sun was visible on the horizon.  The day was nearly done.

orions-bow-post-259x300Fun Facts:

  • Orion is a constellation.  He is known as the hunter in the sky.  His bow is aimed at the bull, Taurus.
  • Candy canes were originally all white, with no stripes at all.  The hard candies were bent to allow them to be hung on Christmas trees as ornaments.  An Ohio man named August Imgard is recorded as having decorated his Christmas tree with candy canes in 1847.  No one is quite sure how or when they first earned their stripes, but striped candy canes appeared in Christmas cards in the early 20th century.


by J.P. Farrell



The ADVENTures of J.J. Gingerbread XXIV: December 18th – The Silver Arrow

Agent BAK gave them the go ahead.  Both the promenade and the corridor were free of humans.  The unlikely group of friends stealthily made their way to the lifeboat.  They pulled back the tarpaulin and all but Joey crawled inside.

He cranked the wench to lower the craft into the ice filled water.  One side stuck.  Joey used all of his might to pull on the rope.  It wouldn’t budge.  The free side began to slip.  The lifeboat tipped to a precarious angle.  If something weren’t done quickly, all of them would fall into the icy water.

“Jump!” yelled the Seven Sisters simultaneously.

Without thinking, Joey jumped.  He landed in the lifeboat.  The star cluster began spinning faster and faster and then spun into the rope.  The speed and heat from their starry beings sawed the problem rope clean in two.  The craft fell into the water with a splash, with everyone safely inside.

They picked their way through the ice with the oars and finally made it to shore.

“Do you know where we are?” Joey asked the trio.  The trio blinked their big eyes and looked all around them.  All three of them focused on a strange point that peeked over the hills before them.  Their faces looked the happiest that Joey had seen them.

“It’s not too far to our city,

we wish you could come, it’s pretty,

if we roll real fast,

we will eat breakfast,

at our home writing new ditties.”

Their song was strong and bold.  Joey knew that their newfound confidence would help them face what lay ahead in their storm-torn city.

franz with tear dropHe bent down and shook each of their tiny hands with his mitten.  When he got to Franz he said, “Thank you Franz.  Even though you’re the tiniest brother, you did the biggest thing.  Your beautiful song broke the ice.”

Franz blinked and one big raspberry tear dropped from his eye onto the snow.

Queen Moswen began giving all manner of advice to Joey for him to convey to the trio.  Then a molasses-curdling sound pierced the cold air.

wolf-mean-blue-on-snow“Owwooooooo,” it was the wolves.

“I thought they were supposed to sleep during the day!” cried Joey.

“It’s the queen’s high-pitched voice,” said Princess Honning.  “It’s a frequency that they can hear.”

The wolves came barreling out of the woods straight toward them.

“Run!” shouted Joey.

There was no hope.  The magical creatures were no match for the speeding wolves.  The same black wolf was leading the pack at a ferocious rate.  Joey was at the rear trying to speed Princess Honning and Agent BAK along.   Crackling loudly, the Seven Sisters were spinning wildly forward in front of him.  Joey could hear the panting wolves at his heels.

wolf-with-arrowA great flash of silver light tore through the air.

“Yiiiipe!” the panting stopped.

Joey ventured a peek over his shoulder.   He couldn’t believe his eyes.  An enormous silver arrow had pierced straight through the black wolf.  The other wolves sniffed their fallen leader.  Whimpering, they turned and bolted in the opposite direction.

Fun Facts:

  • Dogs can hear things that humans cannot.  Typical humans can hear in the frequency of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.  Dogs can typically hear in the range of 40 Hz to 60,000 Hz.  When dogs were wild, their strong sense of hearing helped them locate and hunt food.


by J.P. Farrell 


The ADVENTures of J.J. Gingerbread XXIV: December 17 – Lifeboat to the Wolves

Since most of them knew where to hide already, the group decided to hunker down in Joey’s room for their planning session.  They found a spot in the closet for Princess Honning in the event someone should walk in.  Agent BAK insisted on standing guard.

“But it may be dangerous for you,” said the princess.

“Don’t worry, I can handle it,” he replied.  “I can stretch as thin as a string and that way I’ll be able to see out both ends of the corridor.  Only my almond eyes won’t stretch, but nobody will notice a little food on the ground.”

The group set to work.  They decided that they had to get Queen Moswen to Egypt as soon as possible.  The ship was headed to the Black Sea, and if they could just find a fast ship there, she could get back to Egypt in time.

Since they were still near Linz, it made sense to figure out a way to get the Linzer Trio off the ship and escort them past the wolves.  They just weren’t sure how.  The Seven Sisters, Princess Honning, and Joey were a bit more challenging.  No one knew how to get the star cluster back into space, and Joey and the princess lived in the opposite direction to which the ship was traveling.

wolf_howling_black“First things first,” said Joey.  “Let’s get the trio off the ship while we’re barely moving.  There’s still way too much ice in the water to go fast.”

“Yes, but how?” said Princess Honning.

“The lifeboat seemed very sturdy,

Night watchman sleeps, we can hurry,

To the shore and back,

But wolves might attack,

It’s a plan not without worry.”

“The trio is right,” Queen Moswen said to Joey.  “There’s no alternative.  We must take the lifeboat and do it quickly.”

“I agree with Queen Moswen,” said the princess.  Both the queen and Joey jerked their heads up.

“You can hear her?” asked Joey.

“Yes,” said the princess.  “I’ve always had strong Gingerbreadian hearing, but it seems to be even better since the accident.  That’s not important now.  The night watchman sleeps during the day.  Now is our chance to get on and off the boat unnoticed.   I snuck around yesterday during the daytime.  Hardly anyone comes outside.  The humans can’t take the cold.”

“But what about the wolves?” asked Joey.

“They’re nocturnal,” said Queen Moswen.  “They typically sleep in their dens during the day.”

“That settles it, let’s go,” said Joey.

owl-for-gbread-storyFun Facts:

  • Nocturnal means that the creature usually sleeps during the day and is awake at night.  An owl is a good example of a nocturnal creature.




The ADVENTures of J.J. Gingerbread XXIV: December 16 – A Glow and a Smile


“I know how you feel,” said Joey softly.

“No you don’t.  Go away,” said Princess Honning.  “Besides, how could you possibly know how I feel?”

“Well maybe if you hadn’t been so busy feeling sorry for yourself, you might have noticed that I seem to be missing an eye,” said Joey.  Princess Honning stole a glance at Joey in-between sobs.  “Oh and while you’re at it, take a nice long look at the ugly metal plate that marks where my crust used to be.”

Princess Honning turned to face him.  Her crystal blue eyes darted first to the lost eye, then to his normal eye.  She stared at the metal plate and frowned.

“All I see is my own hideous reflection when I look at the plate,” said the princess.

“And all I see before me is the most beautiful girl I have ever laid eyes on,” said Joey.  “Uh, scratch that.  The most beautiful girl I have ever laid my eye on,” Joey smiled.  “From that first day we crashed our wheelchairs, I thought you were beautiful,” said Joey.  “Your crust has a glow and softness that none of the other Gingerbreadians have.  And I’m sure I’m not the first to tell you how pretty you are.”  Both Joey and the princess blushed.

joey-upper-body-solvang-bakery-fx“Truth be told, I thought you were winking at me that day,” said the princess softly.  “It wasn’t until the nurse was wheeling me away that I realized it was missing.  Your eye I mean.  I think they did a nice job with it.  It’s like you have two handsome smiles on your face, instead of just one.”

They both sat silently for a moment.  The ship lurched again.

“You know, ever since I woke up and realized that my family is gone and I looked like this, I’ve been trying to forget about it,” said Joey.  “I wanted to ignore my responsibilities as heir to the Gingerbreadian throne and all of the requirements of Christmas.”

“You mean you are royal too?” asked Princess Honning.  Joey nodded.

“I keep trying to forget too,” said Princess Honning.  “Sometimes I just wish I were a regular girl.”

“Me too.  Well, a regular boy anyway.  Last night that all changed though,” said Joey.  “When I heard tiny Franz sing that song…”

“You mean Ave Maria?” interrupted the princess.  “When the ice broke?”

“So that was you I saw!” said Joey.

“You nearly caught me,” said Princess Honning.

“We’ve got to get everybody back to their homes in time for Christmas Eve,” said Joey.  “Or at least what’s left of them.”

“Yes, and we’ve got to do it before that nasty Helmut gets ahold of us,” said the princess.

“Let’s get the others.”


by J.P. Farrell



The ADVENTures of J.J. Gingerbread XXIV: December 15th – Princess Honning

Joey’s normally calm molasses body was operating at an accelerated level.  He guessed his red hot heart was pumping at six beats per minute.

“Big Almond Kringle,” the pastry’s name was a mouthful.  “May I just call you BAK?”

Big Almond Kringle thought for a moment.  “It’s rather informal for a kringle of my status…how about Agent BAK?”

“Okay fine.  Agent BAK,” said Joey, “can you get us into Princess Honning’s room?”

“I can get through any door,” boasted Agent BAK.  “The question is can you creatures move silently.”

“We seem to be getting pretty good at it,” said Joey.  The trio hummed and Queen Moswen glared.

“Follow me,” said Agent BAK.

He untwisted with remarkable dexterity and slithered like a snake.  He squeezed under the door, losing an almond sliver or two and was gone.  Before the group has time to blink, one of his almond eyes winked at them through the small window on the door, signaling that the corridor was clear.

They snuck down the hallway following Agent BAK.

“He’s a strange creature, but clever,” squeaked Queen Moswen.  “Once untwisted, he has one eye to lead with and one to watch the rear.”

hospital-bed-princess-honning-the-solvang-bakeryJoey thought this must be advantageous for a bodyguard.  He also wondered why he had not yet ventured down this direction in the corridor.  The princess’s room was only four doors to the left.  Agent BAK slid underneath the door, again popping one eye up to the window and winking.

They entered and surrounded the princess’s bed.  She was asleep and a soft, luminous light glowed around her.  Joey felt suddenly very warm.  He could feel the crust on his cheeks heating up.  She was breathtaking.  Her face radiated peace, kindness, and intelligence.  Her lips were pursed in a slight pale pink smile.

The ship jerked beneath their feet.  Its great horn blew.  The princess blinked her eyes open.  Agent BAK had slithered up beside her and returned to his pretzel shape.

“We’re moving!” said Maia.  All the Seven Sisters sparked and buzzed.

The princess looked over at them in shock.

“What are you doing in my room?!” she shouted.  “Look away from me!”  She looked back at Agent BAK, “Hans, get them out of here!”

“But your Highness, it’s so wonderful to hear your voice.  They’re here to help us,” said Agent BAK.  “We must figure out a way to get you back to Denmark for Julefest.”

“I shall NOT be seen in this condition!  Get them out!” she shouted.

tear-drops-gingerbread-story“But your Highness, the doctor,” Agent BAK paused. “The doctor said it’s permanent your Highness.  You might as well go ahead and get used to it.”

“I’ll never be used to it!”  She began to cry.  White drops of royal icing dripped down her lovely face and hardened on her cheeks.  “Where is my toasted brown crust?  Oh why did I have to visit that factory on that day?” she sobbed.

The others backed away silently from her bedside.  Even the normally surly Queen Moswen said nothing.

Joey whispered something to each of the others.  They quietly slipped out the door and headed for Joey’s room.  Joey whispered into Agent BAK’s almond shaped ear and reluctantly, he too left the room.

Joey gingerly sat down at the edge of Princess Honning’s bed and quietly began to talk.

video how to make royal icing the solvang bakeryFun Fact:

  • Royal icing is often used to decorate short dough (or shortbread ) cookies.  It is typically made by mixing egg whites (or powdered egg whites) and white confectioner’s (powdered) sugar. Click here to see our video How to Make Royal Icing.


by J. P. Farrell 


The ADVENTures of J. J. Gingerbread XXIV: December 14 – Secret Detail

Joey awoke to Nurse Schlimm placing a tray before him.  With all the excitement, he was once again ravenous.  Molasses gurgled deep inside him.  Remembering the last time that food was delivered, he hoped that the trio could keep from humming.

“Nurse Schlimm,” Joey decided that he would talk right over any humming.  “Are there any others like me on the ship?”

“Whatever do you mean Joseph?” said Nurse Schlimm.

“You know, non-humans?”

Nurse Schlimm paused suspiciously.  “Just that one young lady you saw on our walk.”

Between the trio, Queen Moswen, and the Seven Sisters, Joey had nearly forgotten about the beautiful girl.

“Oh yeah,” said Joey trying to act nonchalant. “Where’s she from?”

“I am not at liberty to discuss the affairs of other patients,” said Nurse Schlimm.  “I’ve already told you more than I should have.  You’ll do well to mind your own business and stay in your room.”

She turned and left abruptly.  The moment the door closed, all of the creatures clambered onto the bed.

“Place me next in the gumdrops bowl,” Queen Moswen commanded.

Joey placed her gently into the bowl.  She began eating all of the sugar granules off of the gumdrops.  The trio dove in with vigor.  The tray was filled with gumdrops and rich, creamy fudge.  There were puddings and ginger snaps, candied apples and petit fours, a spice cake and a mug of hot cocoa.  In the center of it all was a whole Almond Kringle.  As they plowed through the confections, Joey noticed the Seven Sisters were not eating.  They hovered nervously above the bed vibrating and sparking.

“Why aren’t you eating?” Joey asked with his mouth full.

“We do not indulge in earthly food,” said Maia.  “ We dine on stardust as it floats through the heavens.”

Joey shrugged.   More for us, he thought.

agent bak almond kringle the solvang bakery fxHe picked up a knife to divide the Almond Kringle amongst them.  He couldn’t wait to savor the almond paste weaved between its flaky layers.  Just as the knife began to plunge into the pastry, a voice shouted, “Ouch!”

The Almond Kringle reared up and balanced on the tray.  “What’s the matter with you?” it said.  “You nearly killed me!”  Its angry eyes were shaped like almonds and two furrowed brows were almond shaped as well.  It bent its pretzel body threateningly as it yelled.

“I didn’t know…” said Joey.

“Didn’t know what?  You’re magical aren’t you?  You German Gingerbreadians were always slow; living in your special little village with nothing but sweetness around you.  I suppose you don’t even know what I am.”

“I’m sorry, but I …” said Joey.

“He is the big Almond Kringle,

the first to hang-up a shingle,

Pretzel signs on shops,

The Danish are tops,

With Austrians they mingled.”

Joey still looked confused.

“Exactly,” said the Almond Kringle to the trio.  “Thank you.  I’m glad someone pays attention to history around here.  I am the Big Almond Kringle.  Our clan is entrusted with ensuring that Danish pastries are made properly.  Our symbol appears on Danish bakeries throughout the world.  Some of us look after other magical confections as well.  We’re, ahem, the secret service of the confectionary world, if you will.”  At this he stood erect, as if at attention.

“But what brought you here?” said Joey.

“I am on special assignment.  Very secret detail.  I am the personal body guard of Princess Honning of the Danish Gingerbreadians.”

“What did she say?” said the Big Almond Kringle bending toward Queen Moswen.

“She said, um, If you’re so special, where is this so-called princess,” said Joey.

Big Almond Kringle glared at Queen Moswen.  She had expanded in size and was now ominously covering the entire gumdrop bowl.

“She was touring some of our factories in Germany.   She travels down from Denmark every December to encourage the bakers through the holiday season.  Way too much sugar dust was in the air… then an awful explosion.  She was instantly bleached white.  Her crust will never be the same…she…”  Poor Big Almond Kringle faltered.  “I let her down.  It must have been so painful.  I was walking directly behind her.  Instead of me protecting her, she protected me.”  He turned his back to them all.  His pretzel shape trembled.

“So the beautiful girl I saw that day was a princess?” asked Joey.

“Yes, I was hidden under the wheelchair’s seat,” sobbed Big Almond Kringle.  “She won’t talk to anybody, and I must get her back to Denmark by Christmas Eve.”

kringle-bakery-symbol-the-solvang-bakery-700Fun Facts:

  • Honning means honey in Danish.
  • Ancient Persians are thought to have first created puff pastry.  The Turks took repetitive folding of the dough to new heights, which was eventually adopted by their mortal enemies, the Austrians.  The Danes borrowed the Austrian dough and added sugar and jams to it, and Danish pastries were born.
  • The knotted pretzel is the symbol of the bakers’ guild in Denmark.


by J.P. Farrell

The ADVENTures of J.J. Gingerbread XXIV: December 13 – The Medical Ward

dr.-d-narrow-hallway-2013Reaching the door to the corridor, Joey peered through its window.   Illuminated by the eerie glow of nightlights, he saw the outline of Dr. Delicious coming all the way from the other end.  His girth nearly took up the entire hallway.  Joey’s room was in the middle of the corridor.  How could they enter and get to the room without Dr. Delicious seeing them?

“What is it?” asked Queen Moswen.

“It’s Dr. Delicious.  I don’t know how we can get past him,” said Joey.

Dr. Delicious paused.  He pulled something off a door that was opposite Joey’s room and farther down the corridor.  Then miraculously, he opened that door and disappeared.

“Now,” Joey whispered to the others.

They pushed the button.  As the door opened, they slipped through it and sped silently down the hall.  The Seven Sisters crammed under the bed with the trio, and Joey assumed his regular position under the sheets.

The trio had kept things to a hushed hum for some time.

“But what if the others find us?

They’ll surely do things that offend us.

They sounded so mean

And smelled so unclean

We must find a way to protect us.”

“You’re right,” whispered Joey.  “We’re not safe.”

Joey heard voices out in the corridor.  He slid out of bed and moved to the door.  He pressed his head against it.

“What are you doing in the medical corridor?” It was Dr. Delicious’ voice.

“Captain said we should check up on some strange goin’s on down here.” It was Helmut’s voice.

“I find that rather hard to believe,” said Dr. Delicious.

“He did.  Helmut’s right.”  It was the voice of the other creepy shipmate.

“Tell you what, you send the captain down here and I’ll be happy to speak with him,” said Dr. Delicious.  “In the meantime, you two can turn around and return to your stations.  There is absolutely nothing unusual happening around here.  Just regular medical ward business that is NONE of your business.”

“But,…” Helmut protested.

“Let me make this perfectly clear,” said Dr. Delicious.  “If Nurse Schlimm or I catch either of you lurking around down here, it will cost you your job.  Our patients need their rest, not you two knocking on their doors.”

There was a long pause.

Finally, the other said, “But…”

“Don’t you two know that the ice broke tonight?  We’ll be moving first thing tomorrow morning.  Now you’ve got jobs to do.  Go do them!”

There was no more talking, only the shuffling of feet.  Joey hustled back into his bed.  He whispered what he had heard to the others.  Feeling a modest sense of safety and comfort, they all fell into exhausted sleep.




The ADVENTures of J. J. Gingerbread XXIV: December 4th, The Girl and Mirror

, Tagged in


“Sorry,” they both exclaimed at once.

The girl’s cheeks flushed a delicate pastel pink and she quickly looked away.

“Did I hurt you?” asked Joey.

“Please,” said the girl, “look away.”

“But I, …” Joey began.

“Nurse, I insist you take me away,” the girl said.

The nurse and the beautiful creature gathered themselves and wheeled away without speaking another word.  Meanwhile, Nurse Schlimm had sprung up like a cheetah and was glaring after the receding pair.  Clearly she did not think the collision was her fault.  Joey was surprised to find himself standing too.  He didn’t remember getting to his feet.

“Who was that girl?” he asked.

“Another refugee from the storm,” said Nurse Schlimm.

“How did she get here?”

“A fisherman found her on one of the banks and brought her to us.  We think she was badly bleached in a sugar explosion, but she won’t talk about it,” said Nurse Schlimm.

Joey had heard of such things, but they rarely happened nowadays.  Great clouds of sugar dust float in the factories where they make sugar plums, gumdrops, and candy canes.  If a match is lit, it can cause an enormous explosion resulting in a wicked fire.  He wondered if the girl was from Gingerbread Village, and if the explosion had happened there.  He had never seen her before though, and he thought he knew all of the magical families in the village.

Nurse Schlimm bumped the wheelchair through the now familiar door to the corridor.  The narrow hall was black after the bright sunlight.  They entered Joey’s room and with no help, he crawled back into his hospital bed.  He was exhausted and his head was beginning to throb.

He had just laid his head down when Dr. Delicious breezed through the door.

“What a gorgeous day!”  he said, brimming with enthusiasm about the sun’s appearance.

“Good to see you awake and alert again.  Let’s take a look at that head of yours.  Time to take off those bandages.”

Joey swore he caught a slight smile on Nurse Schlimm’s face.  She must like seeing people in pain, he thought.  The lovely feeling that had pervaded his being after seeing the girl had vanished.  What would his head look like, and worse, what would his eye look like?

The doctor unwrapped the molasses – stained bandages and dropped them into the steel pan held by Nurse Schlimm.  Using a pair of tweezers, he delicately removed the final gauze patches.  The crusty molasses resisted at first, then broke free.  Dr. Delicious gently daubed the wounds with something that had that distinctly doctor’s office antiseptic smell.

“Not bad,” he said, “not bad at all.  You look a little tougher than you probably used to look, my boy.  Pretty darn good though.”

He handed Joey a mirror.    Joey raised it to his good eye.  He had never been the most handsome boy in class, but he wasn’t the least attractive either.  A molasses tear welled up in his left eye as he surveyed his new face.  His right eye was sewn shut.  The scar looked like a letter ‘C’ lying on its back.  Just above his eye, a rectangular metal plate was bolted to his gingerbread forehead.

“I’m afraid whatever you hit took quite a bit of gingerbread with it,” said Dr. Delicious.  “It plunged right through the crust layer and into the soft gingerbread.  That’s why we were so worried about you waking up.  The plate should keep everything nice and stable.”

Joey was barely listening.  Inside he felt like himself, but what stared back at him was a stranger.

“Joseph,” the doctor cleared his throat.  “When you said you were Joseph Jacob Gingerbread XXIV the other day…well, son, we need to know your real name.”

Joey pulled his eye away from the mirror.   “That is my real name Dr. Delicious.  The one-eyed, plate-headed monster you see before you is heir to the Gingerbread Kingdom.”

Fun Facts:

  • Molasses is a thick, sticky liquid used to make gingerbread cookies and gingerbread houses.  It is the ingredient that gives gingerbread its rich, brown color.
  • Sadly, sugar dust really can explode.  People have to be very careful about lighting a match in places where they produce sugar.

Follow along tomorrow when Joey meets some new friends… 

By J.P. Farrell