Five years have passed, and the Gingerbread Man is just another little shop for tourists on Annapolis' Main Street. Nobody has threatened to have owner Buz Buser arrested since then, although sometimes, he said, "I wish they would."
Buser's store gained its notoriety in 1980 when two underaged and undercover representatives of the Maryland Moral Majority walked into his store and bought some X-rated gingerbread men. Members of the group demanded prosecution under a state law that forbids the sale or display to minors of pictures or other representations of humans with obviously stimulated sex organs.
Buser said he called his lawyer, who advised, "Start making more cookies."
"We set up a regular packing line to handle orders," he said. It was reported by Playboy Magazine and newspapers and radio stations around the world. "People were sending us money," Buser said. "One letter . . . was only addressed 'Dirty Cookies, Annapolis,' or something like that, and we got it."
But in the end, county prosecutors rebuffed demands for criminal prosecution. The publicity subsided -- and so did sales. The cookies are still popular, he said, but now "they're a small part of the business." The price has gone up by a quarter, to $1.75.
"There were some young girls in the store about two months ago," Buser said. "They asked if I was the owner and said: 'We just want to tell you we don't like or approve of what you are doing.' I just said: 'Oh, you're the ones.' The proverbial little old ladies are the ones you'd assume would be offended. But they just get a chuckle out of it."
Sometimes, Buser said, he wishes somebody would launch a protest and give sales a boost. He still looks back on those days of protest and publicity with laughter. "It was a riot," he said. " . . . Even today, when I'm introduced people will say, 'This is Buz Buser who makes those dirty cookies.'"