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COVID couldn’t crumble this cookie.
“Gingerbread Man” chef Jon Lovitch, armed with 300 pounds of dough, 400 pounds of candy and 1,400 pounds of icing, is sweetening up Christmas in New York after a sour year.
Crowned four-time Guinness World Record titleholder for cooking up the largest entirely edible gingerbread village, Lovitch, 44, annually handcrafts his mouthwatering metropolis: Gingerbread Lane. His candy-coated community, typically comprised of more than 1,200 cookie cottages, department stores and apartment buildings, is made completely out of confections — no cardboard and no glue, baby!
“This has been a New York City holiday attraction for the last 10 years,” Lovitch told The Post of his sweet and sprawling spectacles, usually featured each year at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, and earning him upward of $30,000 for exhibiting at the venue.
“We have visitors from all over the city, the country, Europe and Asia,” he said. “People from all over the world come to see Gingerbread Lane as a part of their Christmas tradition.”
However, this year’s delicious display, displaced from the Hall of Science after it closed at the onset of COVID-19, almost went to crumbs due to the virus.
“New York City was the epicenter of the big COVID hit. It was ugly and it was scary,” said Lovitch, who previously served as the executive chef at the Algonquin Hotel in Midtown for several years before stepping down from the prestigious role in 2015 to pursue gingerbread house village-making full time. “I was preparing Gingerbread Lane for the season, but I’m thinking: ‘Is there even going to be a Christmas this year? People are losing their jobs and homes. Is anyone going to want to celebrate? Will any hosting spaces even be open?’”
Despite the unpredictable pandemic, Lovitch moved forward singlehandedly — his hands in protective latex gloves, of course — curating his 500-square-foot yummy Yuletide yards in the basement of the Forest Hills, Queens, home he shares with wife Judith and daughter Cecilia.
This year’s Gingerbread Lane features 580 sugary estates and storefronts — a little less than half of the handmade holiday houses starring in Lovitch’s 1,251-piece property, dubbed the world’s biggest ever edible gingerbread village in 2017. This year’s took 800 hours and over 10 months to create.
And the seasonal sight finally has a new home, the Long Island Children’s Museum, where families can safely take in the holiday splendor. The museum is open at 25% capacity, and museum-goers over the age of 2 are required to wear masks in accordance with county and state protocols.
“The museum shares my vision, which is: Let’s just try to bring everyone some happiness this season in a socially responsible and still really cool way,” he said.
With no chance of breaking his own world record this year, Lovitch plans to round out this not-so-cookie-cutter Christmas by beginning construction on Gingerbread Lane 2021.
“Every year, before people even open Christmas presents, I start working on the next year’s village,” the candy man said of his 365-day round-the-clock job. “In two weeks, I’ll start shopping for candy canes and icing, and reboot for 2021 in the hopes that life and Gingerbread Lane go back to normal next year.”
Gingerbread Lane 2020 is on display at the Long Island Children’s Museum through Jan. 3.