From violent literary associations to war-driven distribution, the history of gingerbread cookies happens to be tinged with darkness. According to historians, ginger first entered the European world of baking in the Middle Ages, after centuries of use as a medicine, due to The Crusades. Those fighting in the Middle East brought it back and centuries later it became a confectioner’s ingredient used to make hard, long-lasting biscuits. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the monarch had gingerbread cookies shaped into figures resembling her suitors, upon which she would bite. In 1812, the Brothers Grimm published “Hansel and Gretel” and while the fictional piece would only broaden the awareness of gingerbread, it was actually referencing the Great Famine of 1315–17, which led to the deaths of millions. Learn more at Quartz.