The Gingerbread Man (also known as The Gingerbread Boy or The Gingerbread Runner) is a fairy tale about a gingerbread man’s escape from various pursuers and his eventual demise between the jaws of a fox. The story is variety of the class of folk tales about runaway food, which are classified in the Aarne–Thompson classification system of traditional folktales as AT 2025: The Fleeing Pancake. A gingerbread boy as hero is a uniquely American contribution to the tale type.
The Gingerbread Boy makes his first print appearance in “The Gingerbread Boy” the May 1875 issue of St. Nicholas Magazine in a cumulative tale which, like “The Little Red Hen”, depends on rhythm and repetition for its effect with one event following hard upon another until the climax is reached. According to the author of the 1875 story (whose name is not known), “A servant girl from Maine told it to my children. It interested them so much that I thought it worth preserving. I asked where she found it and she said an old lady told it to her in her childhood.”
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