The state of Texas produces over 50 million pounds of pecans annually, which may explain why it also has one of the world’s largest collection of nutcrackers, housed at Pape’s Pecan House in Seguin.
Faced with the intense stares and gaping jaws of more than 8,000 crackers, visitors will be left awed trying to take in all the different varieties collected by pecan entrepreneur Kenneth Pape. After more than 50 years of collecting, he has amassed impressive specimens from all over the world. The crackers exhibit every design imaginable, from the artistically classic Steinbachs to recherché kitsch, including what Pape playfully refers to as the “Naughty Nellies.”
For as long as humans have included nuts in their diet, they have used tools to separate endocarps from tasty seeds. In the United States, primitive nutcrackers have been found dating from the archaic period at least 4,000 years ago. But with the rise of decorative arts, nutcrackers began to take more whimsical forms, beginning in the 1400s. Today, metallurgic technologies have allowed for more effective nutcrackers, while craftsmen have raised this simple tool to a high art form in numerous media. A nutcracker is a symbol for good luck in any German home, and no holiday would be complete without the Russian ballet.
The friendly staff at the Nutcracker Museum will easily bring you out of your shell with entertaining stories from the collection. If you are lucky, the owner or his exquisitely named wife, Zelda Ophelia Kindred Pape, will wander in and regale you with intrepid stories of nutcracking through the ages. Die-hard enthusiasts will want to combine the museum with a visit to Seguin’s Pecan Fest in October, which will definitely leave you pie-eyed.