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A ton of candy (literally) makes for sweet gingerbread fun

Photo by Casey Bayer.

For Eric Panicucci and Garrick Dickson, the 11th annual Northeastern Gingerbread Construction Contest was about far more than the sweet treat.

“We’ve come in second place for two years running, so this year we’re going big, making something unique and we’re paying attention to the little details — everything we need to come into first place,” said Panicucci, a third-year criminal justice major.

“The competition is definitely stiff, but I think we’re got a good shot at winning,” added Dickson, a fourth-year graphic design major.

This time around, the duo built “Santa’s Ski Resort,” which featured a gingerbread house and a ski slope, with frosting snow, ice cream cone trees and a stream of blue M&Ms.

Sixty-four other teams joined the contest, which took over the Stetson East dining hall last Thursday. The winners will be chosen today by students who cast votes online or in the Xhibition Kitchen. 

Northeastern Dining Services gave students 700 pounds of gingerbread, 1,200 pounds of icing and 2,000 pounds of candy for the competition, which is held every year on the day before final exams begin.

“Making gingerbread houses is a family tradition for many of our students,” said Deb Fantasia, the marketing director and Xhibition Kitchen coordinator for Northeastern Dining Services. “We know a lot of people are missing home right now, so we’re hoping to give everyone a good time during this stressful part of the year.”

After voting ends, the gingerbread houses will be transported to Rosie’s Place and the Pine Street Inn, where disadvantaged members of the Boston community will get a chance to share in the holiday spirit. Dining Services will match the $100, $75 and $50 prizes awarded to the top three teams by making donations to Haley House or Toys for Tots.

“This is a chance to do some good while having fun this holiday season,” Fantasia said.

Some students may have entered the competition to indulge in free sweets, but many others were engaged in the construction and decoration of gingerbread masterpieces.

Freshman marketing major Natalie Dickinson helped her friends create a house with an ice rink of icing and Andes mints. “I jumped in at the last minute and thought I would just eat all the candy,” she said. “But they put me to work!”