Smithville gingerbread man
The world’s largest gingerbread man cooked over an open fire Dec. 1 in Smithville, Texas.
Photo: Bill Bishop

As barbecuing is both the municipal pastime and the bedrock of local cuisine, to come upon smoky smells in Smithville, Texas, is just normal. But yesterday the air in this little town on the Colorado River was distinct — something sweet was burning.

We followed our noses down near the gazebo by the railroad tracks and found city manager Tex Middlebrook with some big elves overseeing the cooking of a huge brown cookie. Smithville has been bucking for a Guinness World Record for the largest gingerbread man, based on last year’s December feat. The paperwork’s in, but the city has yet to receive confirmation. While they wait, city officials baked another mega-man yesterday, as part of the town’s Festival of Lights. The Chamber of Commerce members mixed up nine huge buckets full of dough, and Tex (in a Santa Claus hat with Aggie monogram) along with other city staffers took care of the baking.

“You can’t do this without getting a few burn holes,” he said. And indeed, two spots on the gingerbread man ‘s right lung had blacked through.

Cen-Tex Marine Fabricators, a Smithville company that makes manholes and hatches for ships, produced the enormous mold, approximately 10 X 25 feet. The baking crew poured in about a thousands pounds of batter, three inches deep; volunteers would be decorating the cookie monster later that afternoon.

We checked out a few former Guinness record holders. The 372-pound gingerbread man made by the Hyatt Hotel in Vancouver, BC, has toured Canada. Apparently John Fish of Rochester, MN , crumbled the Vancouver record last year with his 15-foot long, 600-pound man. Both look like munchkins compared with Smithville’s.

Yesterday, folks fanned away the smoke and sampled some fresh deer sausage barbecued that morning. A few people dipped into the baking cookie pan. Record or no, “It tastes better than last year,” one local arbiter declared.

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