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The nutcracker is a famed article from the German Erzgebirge area. A fairy tale written between 1776 and 1822 by E.T. Amadeus Hoffman entitled The Nutcracker and the King of Mice, and the famous Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Ballet first performed in 1892 have done much to popularize the nutcracker.
The origin of the first nucracker is a mixture of legend and history. No one knows when nutcrackers were first made. Fancifully carved nucrackers have been known and collected in Europe since medieval times. As early as the year 1725, they were present in Erzgebirge homoes. The nutcrackers are a reflection of dining customs in the past. Nuts, served as part of the dessert course had guests cracking their own nuts and lingering over wine and sweets. An important source of protein that could be preserved through the winter, nuts were considered an important foodstuff.
Wooden nutcrackers may crack nuts, but their real joy today is their colorful presence in the home. It is said that someone has a "tough nut to crack" if one faces a difficult problem. Nutcrackers have unusual faces, and many depict officials or authority figures who work for the people to "crack nuts". Christian Steinbach nutcrackers and Christian Ulbricht nutcrackers are two well-known German nutcracker producers.