It was well into the new year (1990) when the gingerbread house contest information from Brach's arrived - January 17th. The rules stated that the gingerbread house must include a minimum of three different Brach's candies. The entry form was to be completed and mailed along with one color photo no larger than 8"x10" and must be received by Jacobs Suchard (Brach's parent company) no later than January 31st. The information also stated that entries would be judged under the supervision of Rogers Merchandising on or about February 9th and winners would be notified by mail on or about March 12th. I found out later that Brach's hired a company (Rogers) to run the contest. For heaven's sake - Brach's can't be running a contest, they have candy to make! Probably a good idea to hire specialists - I imagine there are many things to consider when running a nationwide contest: setting up the rules and legalities, promotion, judging, dealing with inquiries from entrants, distributing the prizes, etc.
Since I made up my mind to enter the contest, my brain had kicked into full gear and I was coming up with a myriad of uses for all kinds of Brach's candy from Gumdinger balls to Mint Filled Straws. My imagination was running wild. I was laying awake at night dreaming of Kentucky Mints, Nut Goodies, and Mellowcreme Toys. I decided the house should be something special - not just your average gingerbread house with four walls and an a-line roof. Nope, that would not do. I also knew it had to be more traditional and be completely edible - no cardboard roof with electric lights, no fake Christmas tree inside, and no floral paper ribbon wallpaper. What should the house look like? At the time I was in love with all things Victorian. It had to be classic Victorian - gingerbread trim and all.
I loved Victoria magazine. LOVED it. Just a few months ago, I finally tossed all those beloved issues of Victoria but not before I checked through them one last time to rip out any pages that still inspired me. I could not believe it when I came across a frosting splotched page in the back of a 1989 issue featuring an ad for mail order plans of an elaborate Victorian home. There was my house - the one that I patterned my gingerbread house after! Two and a half stories, wrap-around porch, dormer windows, turret, pediments, railing, and chimney! So many details - so many opportunities to use so many kinds of candies! I had to get to work. There was shopping, planning, baking and decorating to do and the deadline was closing in fast...
...and I had these two knuckleheads to deal with.