The gingerbread house in the window of a Broadway Plaza business for a Dec. 21 raffle was "on vacation" Tuesday, Dec. 18, when its builder, Laura Morrissette of Arlington, competed on the "Today Show" -- and won.
Morrissette, who has put together these confections since 1983, sometimes with family members, was one of three finalists in a contest sponsored by NBC-TV, "Make the best gingerbread house in America? Prove it."
Hans Rockenwagner, the judge who said he grew up with Hansel and Gretel chose Morrissette's creation over a Victorian brick mansion by a dentist from Ohio and a replica of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris by an artist from New Jersey. "You still my heart," the judge said to Morrissette.
NBC-TV: Summary with video
YourArlington's story was published Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, and updated Dec. 18. The original story about the house raffle was published Dec. 10.
"Flabbergasted" was the word used to refer to all three by the judge, a chef known for his own gingerbread creation of the Flatiron Building in Manhattan.
Asked why her house is called "ecofriendly," Morrissette pointed to the solar panels and the bicycle. She noted that the town of Arlington had recently conducted a successful campaign to encourage solarizing homes and that the one of the nation's business bikeways cuts through the town.
Clearing impressing the judge was her arrangements of almonds as siding. He called a stained-glass window "beautiful."
He concluded: "You guys are all artists."
She shows segment at 10:38 p.m. was just 3 minutes and followed a lengthy run of commercials.
In an interview Dec. 11, she said she was excited to learn just that day about her upcoming trip to New York City.
"It's my 15 minutes of fame, and I am so glad that I've come by it in such a nice way," she said.
"I was asked by the 'Today Show' people if I thought it would help with ticket sales on the raffle. Hmm, 20 million viewers -- yeah, I think so."
Asked what she would win, Morrissette said with humor: "As far as I know, all you get is honor and glory, a night in a hotel and in my case, gas mileage and a parking space. Maybe I can sell a raffle ticket to Matt [Lauer] and Al [Roker]." They are the show's hosts.
The winner is to be chosen on the show.
House termed 'very Arlington'
She called her latest creation "very Arlington." With a wry turn, she explained: The house is diverse, a quality she says reflects the town. The house includes decorations for Christmas, menorah, a recycling container and solar panels.
It graces the window at The Artful Heart, to support a raffle to benefit the woman who had owned Divinity's Splendour-Glow and is ill. The drawing is set for Thursday.
Want to build one? Here's a guide
Morrissette described how she made the house vying for the "Today" contest:
Main construction, walls, roof: gingersnap cookie recipe: whipped cream, molasses, ginger, lemon peel and flour
"Mortar" and all decorative frosting: "Royal Icing" (egg whites and confectionery sugar)
Windows, water in fountain and puddles: melted hard candy and hard candy (made from corn syrup, sugar and water boiled to c. 300F)
Roofing: NECCO wafers (made in Revere) for main roof; fruit rollup for green side roofs; red hot and Dots for accent
Foundation: Oyster crackers
Siding: sliced almonds
Chimney: Snow caps
Railings: icing, candy chains and gumdrops
Solar panels: Licorice encased in hard candy
Recycle box: gingersnap dough, extra pieces from the house construction; paper stacks are made of fruit rollups tied with licorice whips
Landscaping: Cornflake and marshmallow trees with red hots, gum drops and frosting
Fountain: Christmas candy corn, red hots and gingersnap dough, waster is hard candy
Bicycle: Gingersnap dough and icing