Festive holiday model trains are not the only things that have returned to the Nixon Library this holiday season.
Orange County’s presidential library just unveiled a gingerbread house reproduction of Elvis Presley’s world-famous Graceland mansion.
The Graceland Gingerbread House weighs more than 40 pounds and was created by the talented team at Rockwell’s Bakery in Villa Park. Professional bakers and decorators worked 16 hours on the confection that was made with gingerbread, fondant icing, royal icing, and Isomalt crystals.
The Graceland Gingerbread is presented thanks to the generous donation of Bill Skeffington, owner of Rockwell’s Bakery and Ben’s Asphalt in Santa Ana. It will remain on display at the Nixon Library now through December 24, 2021.
See other creations by Rockwell’s Bakery online at rockwellsbakery.com or on Instagram at @rockwellsvillapark.
The President and The King
The Nixon-Presley connection has its roots in the holiday season. On December 21, 1970, just four days before Christmas, Elvis Presley arrived at the White House North Gate to request a meeting with President Nixon. The White House staff got Elvis on the President’s schedule that morning, resulting in one of the most famous Oval Office meetings in American history.
The photo of the President and “The King” is now the most requested and most popular photo in the U.S. National Archives and adorns the Nixon Library’s 2021 Official Christmas ornament.
Pat Nixon’s White House Christmas Tradition
In 1969, the first Christmas that the Nixon family spent in the White House, First Lady Pat Nixon worked with German-born pastry chef Hans Raffert to create what is now considered among the most treasured and recognizable of White House holiday confections: the White House Gingerbread House.
Chef Raffert’s early gingerbread house designs held an A-frame, elaborately embellished with cookies, candies, icing, and gumdrops. The two-foot high house was kept together with six pounds of icing, five pounds of cookies, one pound of hard candy, and a dozen peppermint candy canes.
By 1977, the gingerbread house had become the White House’s main attraction for the holidays, and was guarded during public tours by two U.S. Marines.
The design would evolve over the decades as Chef Raffert worked to balance the increased popularity and interest in the design with the wants and favorites of each First Family. By the 1990s, the gingerbread house design had morphed to edible scale replicas of the White House, monuments around Washington, Santa’s Workshop, and even a castle; the 2008 gingerbread house weighed nearly 500 pounds.
Children of all ages are invited to feast their eyes on the delectable Graceland gingerbread house at the Nixon Library now through December 24, 2021. Admission tickets must be purchased to enjoy the Graceland Gingerbread House and the rest of the holiday fun at the Nixon Library. Visit nixonfoundation.org to purchase admission tickets.