German nutcrackers designed in shapes of kings and soldiers are being used since the early 15th century. These nutcrackers are considered lucky and beautiful. These are kept in houses as decoration and with time their actual functionality is not up to the mark. German nutcrackers are now used more for Christmas decoration than actually cracking a nut. However, the question is: should a real German nutcracker be capable of cracking nuts?

History of German Nutcrackers

It’s been in practice to use nutcrackers shaped like kings and soldiers made of wood with hard movable jaws to crack open nuts. A nutcracker is built from wood and can have up to 130 moving pieces assembled for proper functioning. With the use of a specific lever, the force on the jaw can be easily used to crack the nut. Earlier its jaws were specially made hard to be able to crack nuts but with time it started being used as just a decorative piece and you can’t use it anymore to crack nuts.

Steinbach Nutcrackers

Steinbach Family is the one responsible for the increasing popularity of the Nutcracker in the early days. Most of the nutcrackers at that time were made in form of soldier nutcracker or nutcracker king. But Steinbach came up with a brilliant idea to make nutcrackers based on the famous leader and German folklore, he promotes it as a limited edition nutcracker which resulted in people collecting different designs of nutcrackers as a hobby.

The nutcrackers were designed like kings and soldiers to make a statement and give people a sense of justice to use the idols of the very people oppressing them. These designed showed the hardship of the commoners against their government. Earlier the design signifies that normal people can have a sense of justice by using the figures of the cruel king or soldier to crack the nut for consumption just like the government was using the commoners for their purposes.

Change in the Uses of Nutcracker

What was earlier a statement against the oppressing royalty turned into mere decorations after few years. Nutcrackers were started being used as decorations for festive occasion especially Christmas. The true purpose and function of Nutcracker were lost. People started collecting nutcrackers which motivated businessmen to make much better-looking designs for the Nutcracker instead of focusing on its function. This lead to a complete change in the main function of the nutcrackers, companies started to build nutcrackers of different shapes and sizes. People started to showcase their nutcrackers over dinner and parties and it kind of became a tradition to showcase and talk about nutcrackers in social gatherings.

Nutcrackers were made in shape of animals, birds, wizards or human dolls. People don’t seem to mind that their nutcracker can’t actually cracks the nuts anymore, this lead to designing of more decorative and attractive nutcrackers instead of focusing on its functionality.

Current Scenario

The origin of authentic German nutcracker dolls was rather monumental as it was a stand against the oppressing government by the free people. It was a symbol to show disdain for the king and soldiers. Now it is hard to find a properly functioning nutcracker that can actually crack a nut. As company’s stared to go more for style and design than strength nutcrackers are not even strong enough to crack a nut.

There can be various reasons to why people avoid using or can’t use their nutcracker king to actually crack a nut: 

  1. The Companies manufacturing the nutcracker compromise with the functionality to provide the customers with good design and decorative nutcrackers.
  2. Even if people want to use their nutcrackers to crack the nut, it most likely to fail and damage the nutcracker in the process as the material used to craft nutcracker is not as solid as it used to be.
  3. These nutcrackers cost a fortune and people avoid using it to crack nuts, which is their actual use, instead, they just like to use it as decoration by putting it for a show on a dinner table or lobby.

Here’s an interesting matching Christmas nutcracker game developed by Christkindl.LIVE and is free to play: 

If somehow you find a functional nutcracker and used it for its designated purpose even then you will have a hard time properly cleaning all the pieces. Cuckoo Forest offers a wide selection of authentic German nutcrackers. Visit for more information. 

Nutcrackers were designed to crack open the nuts but now they are more of a decorative piece. There are other alternatives to crack the nut, therefore it’s unlikely for Traditional German nutcrackers to be used for their original purpose.