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Campus Life
By Alan Wong
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Jason Kimball and Sakura Hegarty (Questrom’19)
gingerbread man peeking from the corner

On a cold winter night last week, students from two BU schools went head-to-head in a West Campus meeting room. The object? Which two-person team, one from the College of Fine Arts, one from the College of Engineering, could build the better gingerbread house? BU Today had reached out to the two schools asking for students willing to take part in a friendly but spirited competition. Would ENG students, with their penchant for structural soundness, trump the artistry of their CFA counterparts—or vice versa? The rules were simple. As well as a communal pool of icing, frosting, and sprinkles, each team was supplied with two gingerbread house kits to combine and manipulate as they saw fit. In addition, each team was allowed to bring in outside accoutrements to adorn their houses—provided they were edible.


Photos by Jacob Chang-Rascle (COM’22)

Acting majors Ronan Quiniou (CFA’21, CAS’21) and Zachary Kelley (CFA’21) laid out an eclectic mix of pretzel sticks, a small bag of Golden Grahams cereal, and tea bags. Their ENG counterparts, Camryn Williams (ENG’21) and Samuel Quick (ENG’20), had design and structure in mind. They brought in Exacto knives, a hammer, and safety glasses. (You can’t be too careful when it comes to building a gingerbread house.)

The teams’ game plans, not surprisingly, were markedly different. Quiniou and Kelley envisioned a Canadian chalet, a concept they hoped to pull off successfully with their eclectic mix of outside ingredients. “We like to reuse materials in a different way,” Kelley said. “We’re using cereal as roof shingles.”

“And we’re using pretzels to make it look like a log cabin,” Quiniou added.

For their part, Williams and Quick set out to go tall. Using both kits, they cut out extra pieces to support the first floor before affixing a second level to their self-described townhouse.

“Our goal is to get the structure first,” Williams said, “and then worry about decorations.”

“I think I’m most concerned about decorating,” Quick said. The structural work “has been a lot of fun; but when it comes to gingerbread house-making, that’s not the main component of it.”

detail of candy canes and ribbon

When the (cookie) dust finally settled, two quite different concepts had emerged. The ENG students’ two-story townhouse sported a roof festooned with gumballs and candy dots, holiday lights along the sides, and a lawn covered in green sprinkles. As an added touch, Williams and Quick had pieced together a dormer on one side of the roof, complete with a gingerbread man hanging daringly out the window.

The CFA creation, clad in pretzels, resembled a rustic snow-covered log cabin, as promised, with a roof made of cereal shingles and covered with quite a generous amount of frosting to convey a recent snowfall. Tea leaves and crumbled cereal gave the impression of dirt peeking out from under the snow.

Top three photos by Cydney Scott. Bottom photos by Aaron Hwang (ENG’21)

Which of these two marvelous gingerbread houses is your favorite? Let us know in the Comment section below. Our thanks to all four students for gamely taking part in our competition.

Additional production by Clarisha Bailey (COM’19) and Aaron Hwang (ENG’21).

Alan Wong can be reached at alanwong@bu.edu.


28 Comments on Who Can Build the Better Gingerbread House?

  • Matthew Santos on 12.17.2018 at 7:09 am

    What a wonderful experience. While the The ENG students creation is impressive with its structure, my personal preference is the CFA creation–full of intricate and textured details, wonderful craftsmanship, and beautiful imagery (Love the red door).

    A close tie but I tip it to the CFA.

    Wonderful job both teams!

  • Karen Hennessey on 12.17.2018 at 7:22 am


  • Alanna Birmingham on 12.17.2018 at 8:03 am


  • Vijay Kanabar on 12.17.2018 at 8:20 am

    Good article and a fun project competition. Sorry engineers I am leaning towards the CFA gingerbread house as the winner – nice and quaint. Maybe they had some insight into what the customer (“me”) wanted.

  • Morgan on 12.17.2018 at 8:31 am

    Yas CFA!

  • Leora H Lanz on 12.17.2018 at 8:52 am

    Perhaps next time MET Culinary students and SHA hospitality/food and beverage students participate too!!! Nice job all.

    • Suzanne Bagnera on 12.18.2018 at 9:15 am

      Nice job to both teams. Creative props out to ENG for height. Certainly the folks that work with food should have a showdown next year – SHA vs. MET!

  • susan chau on 12.17.2018 at 8:52 am

    although the ENG house looks clean the CFA has a personality and is the one I would want to live in if I had a choice.
    I vote for the CFA
    Well Done all students and also idea of this contest is appreciated
    Susan Chau
    Framingham Heart Study

  • Hannah on 12.17.2018 at 8:56 am

    ENG was ambitious with the height but the CFA icing design makes the whole house actually look like art. CFA for me!

  • Erin on 12.17.2018 at 9:48 am

    ENG all the way!!! Great work everyone!!

  • Tyler on 12.17.2018 at 9:52 am

    Go ENG! You rock!

  • Giuseppe on 12.17.2018 at 11:34 am

    Engineers always do it best!

  • Gabriella Campozano on 12.17.2018 at 11:47 am

    ENG and CFA (for my winter cabin in Maine)

  • Carmen on 12.17.2018 at 12:33 pm


  • DC Smith on 12.17.2018 at 1:54 pm

    ENG! Like the CFA look, but those logs will let a lot of snow and cold air into the cabin! Brrrrr—the ENG structure will keep out the cold and be able to host all the family for the holidays!

  • Lily Cobb on 12.17.2018 at 3:07 pm


  • Nancy on 12.17.2018 at 4:36 pm


  • Sarah on 12.17.2018 at 6:06 pm

    I love the CFA house!!!

  • Abby on 12.17.2018 at 10:31 pm

    CFA!! so cute

  • Cheryl on 12.17.2018 at 11:31 pm


  • Margaret on 12.18.2018 at 5:28 am


  • Ken Lutchen, Dean of Engineering on 12.18.2018 at 8:20 am

    What a terrific idea and fun. Loved both. Next year I suggest trying combining and ENG and a CFA student on the same team…..and then have the two teams compete.

  • Maggie on 12.18.2018 at 9:50 am

    Go ENG! Love the little gingerbread man!

  • Ann MacDonald on 12.18.2018 at 10:23 am

    CFA for the win! Great job!

  • ep on 12.18.2018 at 5:25 pm

    CFA please! both teams showed creativity and skill (wonderful job!) but, like a violinist or a pianist who goes beyond the technique, CFA’s chalet has got the `magic’, it melts my heart… (to the commenter who says “brrr…” don’t you feel the warmth and love inside? just look at the smile of the gingerperson sitting there to welcome you!)
    Plus, I’ll never look at a frosted mini-wheat the same way again! Thatch me, if you dare!

  • Matt on 12.18.2018 at 9:18 pm


  • Ju on 12.19.2018 at 11:48 am

    CFA Roof detail pushed it over the top.

  • Robin on 12.19.2018 at 12:32 pm

    Great idea and wonderful concepts from both teams! My vote is for the CFA log cabin – great use of materials and yes, the dirt is always peeking out from under all that snow!

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