“The Gingerbread Man”

“Run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.” That’s the phrase I associate with the story of the gingerbread man, but it wasn’t even in the version I read for today’s post. This version comes from the St. Nicholas Magazine, May 1875 and is one of the earliest known printed versions of the story.

The story begins with an old man and an old woman who desperately want a child, as often happens in fairytales. (Thumbling, Momotaro) One day the woman was baking gingerbread and she cut one into the shape of a boy. As soon as she opened the oven door to see if it was baked, the Gingerbread Boy jumped out and ran away. The old couple couldn’t catch him. We follow the Gingerbread Boy as he outruns farm workers, a cow and a pig, but then he meets a fox.

I’ve run away from a little old woman,
A little old man,
A barn full of threshers,
A field full of mowers,
A cow and a pig,
And I can run away from you, I can!

Turns out he can’t. Foxes are fast you see, and the fox catches up to the Gingerbread Man and eats him up.

Presently the gingerbread boy said, “Oh dear! I’m quarter gone!” And then, “Oh, I’m half gone!” And soon, “I’m three-quarters gone!” And at last, “I’m all gone!” and never spoke again.

Yeah, I’m not sure how he could speak when he was “all gone,” but I guess that’s not important.

To be honest, I prefer the version I’m more familiar with, where the Gingerbread Man wants to cross water and the fox offers him a ride. Then while out in the water, the fox eats him because he can’t run away. I like a sly fox, rather than just a fast one.  Either which way, he is made of gingerbread, so it makes sense that he gets eaten. I don’t really feel bad for him, although he doesn’t get a happily ever after.

Challenge: Fairy tales

Friday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. I would love it if you joined me. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, share with us. If you have a link, please include it in your comment.


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