The History of Nutcrackers

News | Dec 14, 2023


When most people think of a nutcracker, they might picture the wooden soldier decorations for Christmas time, which have been around for almost 200 years. These were popularized by the famous ballet, “The Nutcracker”. While many of these nutcrackers are functional for cracking nuts, most are just for decoration. It’s interesting to look back on the many different forms of nutcrackers there have been over time.

Early civilizations would simply crack open nuts using a rock. While this does work, it can be difficult to make sure you’re not breaking the nut meat inside. By the third century B.C., nutcracker tools were created in the form of pliers. These early tools worked like a modern-day plier to crack nuts and were often decorated with engravings. In the 13th century, the design changed to an iron lever model and took the shapes of different animals. To make the design more interesting, the nut was placed in the animal’s mouth and cracked in the jaw. This may be where the idea came from for the modern soldier design.

Brass nutcrackers became popular in the 14th and 15th centuries. That is when the devices started being referred to as nutcrackers. The brass designs were like the plier versions of the past, but with much better functionality. Wooden nutcrackers with leather straps showed up in the 15th and 16th centuries and by the 17th century, the screw nutcracker was created.

In the 19th century, we finally see the iconic wooden soldier nutcracker emerge from Germany. They were designed with a lever on the back to control the jaw of the soldier where the nut is cracked. There are many other popular designs in other regions such as the brass crocodile, cast-iron squirrel, and cast-iron dog. In the early 20th century, the spring-jointed nutcracker was invented by Henry Quackenbush.

While nutcrackers come in all different shapes and sizes, and are made with different materials, if you’re serious about cracking nuts, you’ll want to find a device that was designed with functionality in mind. Bag-A-Nut is now offering a classic, simple lever handle nutcracker or fast nut cracking. This cracker is nickel plated with steel construction. Not only will it crack nuts quickly and easily, but it’s also aesthetically pleasing and would make a great gift!

Check out the new Bag-A-Nut Nutcracker

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