The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

Gingerbread houses crumble under 7.5 magnitude shaker

Pro+and+amateur+teams+try+to+achieve+structural+integrity.+
Olivia Soares
Pro and amateur teams try to achieve structural integrity.

The Californian hosted its inaugural gingerbread house-making competition this month, and few of the homes survived a unique structural earthquake test none of the contestants foresaw.
Competitors were from three divisions: pros, amateurs and newbies. Each team chose their own house kits and building strategies.
After 45 minutes, competitors were judged by “professional” gingerbread connoisseurs, who determined the winner based on appearance, design and sturdiness, aka surviving opinions editor Shravya Salem Sathish’s surprise “earthquake test”.
Here are each team’s gingerbread house-making stories.
Pros
Even before starting The Californian’s Inaugural Gingerbread House-Making Competition, Team Greatness knew our house was destined to win.
We both knew the ins and outs of building a gingerbread house that would ultimately allow us to secure the win.
Before beginning, we envisioned a clean and timeless house that was perfectly frosted and meticulously decorated with a colorful array of candy.
And we did just that. But there were a few bumps and bruises along the way.
When first assembling our house, we underestimated the required amount of frosting and used just enough to secure the walls together. Our home collapsed, but little did we know, this setback allowed us to redo the infrastructure so our house would survive the dreaded earthquake test.
As professionals, we knew the best thing to do was stay calm and quickly come to a solution, even though the reporters and the other teams wanted nothing more than to see us fail. We figured out that by adding frosting to the base of the walls to secure it to the floor and adding additional frosting between the walls and roof, we could fix our problem without breaking a sweat.
And just like that, we were back on track and ready to decorate the house.
We chose to have a simple yet carefully decorated house rather than an overdone and messy one. We felt that this clean look was going to set us apart from the two other houses, which had frosting smeared everywhere and chaotically placed decor.
Admittedly, we were slightly rushed as the time came ticking to the last minute, but we were able to maintain composure and create a house we were proud of.
Amateurs
When we found out we could make a gingerbread house, we were over the moon.
We’d made a few gingerbread houses with our sisters in previous years. But in true sisterhood spirit, these lovely gingerbread house bonding activities often turned into intense competitions between sisters.
This holiday season, we were ecstatic to participate in another competition, eager to win.
Minutes before the competition began, our excitement quickly turned into stress as we took a closer look at the gingerbread kit we bought. The first instruction read, “Preheat oven at 350℉.”
With not a single oven was in sight, we thought, “We’re screwed,” assuming the kit consisted of gingerbread dough instead of gingerbread cookies.
We nervously opened our kit and found that it didn’t have gingerbread dough but buildable gingerbread cookies instead. A rush of relief came to us as we discovered we weren’t doomed after all. But we weren’t fully satisfied with the kit either. Some cookies were broken and the kit was just too complicated.
We struggled figuring out how to build the house until we stumbled across plastic pieces designed to hold up the corners of the walls. We rejoiced, but building soon got messy as the piping bag refused to pump out icing and it got everywhere on the house and us.
Then we saw that the roof pieces were too complex and the main piece was broken, so we stuck broken pieces together to make a makeshift roof. Unfortunately, our makeshift structure was not sturdy enough, because the roof caved in on the house.
To make matters worse, we were scrambling to find more icing to use as the judges continued to ridicule our house. With little time and supplies left, we rushed to decorate our gingerbread “house.” We used the icing stuck on our hands and decorative gold beads on the roof to distract from the mess.
Thanks to the pre-made trees and wreaths in our kit, we covered the obviously disastrous mess of a gingerbread house. We balanced butterscotch candies drenched in icing on the windows and sprinkled powdered sugar and baking glitter everywhere. If the judges asked, we would pass it off as a cabin in a snowstorm or Elsa’s castle.
Suspiciously, we finished our gingerbread house earlier than the other two groups, leaving us with no choice but to eat the icing off our hands.
The judges continued to diss our masterpiece, despite it being the only one left standing after the earthquake test. We had proven all the skeptics wrong.
–Nidhi Suheendra and Alyssa Reyrao
Newbies
As people who were completely new to the world of competitive gingerbread house-making, the idea of snacking on leftover icing was what really pushed us to participate in the competition.
The first thing we did was decide on a gingerbread house kit because we were obviously too good to make it from scratch. Some haters may argue that buying a Barbie gingerbread kit on an impulse was a stupid idea, but what do they know about making gingerbread houses?
A couple of minutes before the competition, some bombs were thrown our way. Apparently one of the judges had 25 years of gingerbread making experience. It was even scarier listening to the competition host, a certain social media editor, talk to the judges about the ways of sabotaging contestants. But we decided we wouldn’t give up without a fight.
When time started, we ripped open the box and to our surprise, some of the pieces were broken! We didn’t let that stop us though. Everything seemed to go smoothly, until our walls began to fall down.
The “gingerbread houses for beginners” videos failed us. We started putting even more icing over the cracks. And luckily we were able to revive our house, until we got jinxed again and our roof cracked.
The gingerbread gods were laughing at us, and so were the judges. The were cackling as they announced their latest idea – an earthquake test proposal provided by our host and his sidekick.
So we hustled trying different ways to fix our crumbling roof. We tried different angles and positions, but nothing was working. Then an idea struck us. What if there wasn’t a roof? Or what if there was a sunroof? Nodding our heads in agreement, we decided to take the creative approach. This personally offended our judges.
The judges pounced on us while comparing the picture on the box to our house. Toward the last few minutes, our gingerbread house had a couch, a marble coffee table, and even a Christmas tree. Our floor even had access to a garage filled with expensive cars, and outside the house we had a pink carpet.
All in all, we knew our house was the best. Our uncooked gingerbread competitors and a certain Team Greatness, which wasn’t so great, didn’t come close to our uniqueness.
Even though we crumbled to a terrible earthquake, at the end of the day we got what we wanted, leftover icing and the bonus of seeing gingerbread houses fall down. One person even said it was worth failing a chemistry test for.
–Anvi Kataria and Mansi Swaminathan

 

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About the Contributors
Samantha Contreras, Co-Managing Editor
Senior Samantha Contreras is Co-Managing Editor for The Californian Paper.  She joined the newspaper her sophomore year as a journalist and became an editor for A&E a few months into the school year. She loves both the writing and editing aspect of the paper.  In her free time, she loves going on runs, pole vaulting, oil painting, and sitting down with a good book.
Addison Jing, A&E Editor
Addison Jing, a sophomore, is a returning member of the newspaper team and co-editor of A&E. She likes to read, cook, and play softball. This year, she hopes to improve her writing and editing skills through creating A&E sections that are fun to read.
Olivia Soares, Photographer
Olivia Soares is a sophomore and this is her first year in newspaper. Her favorite thing to do in her free time is playing sports such as soccer, basketball, & softball. She loves Disney and taking vacations. So far, she has been to Portugal, New York, & Hawaii.

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