An exposé in this month’s National Culinary Review offers a horrifying peek behind the curtain of the international gingerbread house industry.

Humidity plays a big role with gingerbread stability, and in the sub-tropical Florida climate, [chef Steven] Rujak also has to deal with roaches and moths infesting his showpieces. The only successful solution is to spray the entire work with hairspray.

You’ll never again view these precious holiday masterpieces with the same sense of awe and nostalgia after you imagine biting through a glistening layer of Alberto VO5 only to have your teeth sink into the thorax of a very alarmed two-inch-long flying cockroach.

The article also features a very neat photo of a Frank Lloyd Wright–style gingerbread house and the usual stuff about the various kinds of baking tricks and edible binding that are needed in order to keep these ridiculous edifices from collapsing.

But honestly. Hairspray and roaches, folks. That’s the seedy underbelly that we all kinda knew was lurking behind the whimsical facade.

See more articles