UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State is all about tradition, and the holiday season brings with it a favorite tradition for The Nittany Lion Inn: a gingerbread replica of the historic hotel, created by the Penn State Bakery.
According to Heather Luse, executive pastry chef for the Penn State Bakery, this is the 13th year that the bakery has delivered the much-anticipated gift to the inn.
“The gingerbread inn is a highlight of the inn’s annual holiday season decor,” said Tom Neely, general manager of The Nittany Lion Inn. “We start fielding calls before Thanksgiving to see if it’s here yet.”
The replica — constructed from about 50 pounds of gingerbread, 100 pounds of icing, and 20 pounds of candy — takes approximately 32 hours to prepare. Bakery staff bake the pieces one day, secure them to a 3-foot-by-4-foot board the next day, attach the roof and windows, and finally decorate the model inn. It takes four handlers to safely deliver the final product to the hotel.
The structure features gingerbread walls dipped in clear crystal sugar, trees made of upside-down sugar cones, a roof constructed of gum that’s air-gunned with edible paint, and fondant doors and windows.
Two show-stopping gingerbread houses created by the Penn State Bakery also are on display at The Penn Stater Hotel & Conference Center.