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The Betty Strong Encounter Center will host its annual “One Smart Cookie!!” gingerbread cookie-decorating drop-in activity from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9 under Eileen McCormick’s direction. Admission, cookies and decorating materials will be free.

The drop-in activity will welcome kids, parents, grandparents and friends to create unique gingerbread families using a variety of edible enhancements to decorate ready-made gingerbread people.

Gingerbread and gingerbread figures connect to a rich history that reaches back to the second century A.D. when gingerroot showed up in Rome. By the 11th century, monks in Paris were selling “gingerbread-hard” in the shape of a pig.

A few centuries later, German bakers were making gingerbread dough, rolling it out, cutting it into shapes and decorating each figure with icing. Queen Elizabeth I had a baker whose sole responsibility was making gingerbread.

Holiday spices, including ginger, were costly during the time of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. That’s why they were used only on rare occasions. Sugar also was expensive. The Corps of Discovery carried just two bags of sugar on its journey.