Credit for taking gingerbread and shaping the pastry into kings and queens belongs to Queen Elizabeth I, who PBS says made cookies in the form of important people that came to see her at court. No surprises, it seems, for a monarch, who Time says had a dedicated royal gingerbread maker and was already known for serving up fancy meals decorated with edible fruit, animals, and palatial homes that had been shaped with marzipan.
In case you were wondering whether accounts of Queen Elizabeth I’s fondness for gingerbread might have been exaggerated, Levin confirms that “She did do a banquet where she had gingerbread men made to represent foreign dignitaries and people in her court,” per Time.
Its thanks to gingerbread’s evolution in England that colonists were eventually able to bring gingerbread to the New World, where the cookies were even used in Virginia as a campaign giveaway by aspiring politicians, per PBS. But there’s no word on whether those cookies came in the shape of the politicians who were giving them away.