Blog : The Case for Nutcrackers Blog : The Case for Nutcrackers


The Case for Nutcrackers

The holiday season has long been established as a time of celebrated excess. As I sat down to write this entry, I thought to myself, “who am I to swoop in like a Scrooge (or a Grinch or a Heat Miser) and try to convince you to scale it back this year”. Because the truth is that while, yes, we probably use too much wrapping paper and switching to reusable gift bags would save us all a lot of money in the long run, I’m not going to sit here and lecture you on best practices that I would never implement in my own life (and I would never make the switch to gift bags). With this in mind, I set out to determine the best way to save money this holiday season while simultaneously enhancing general holiday cheer. My search took me right in the giant lap of Nutcrackers.

At some point, Nutcrackers became more decorative than useful, slowly losing their functionality to the point that, despite the very literal name, most people never use a Nutcracker for their intended purpose (cracking nuts). It certainly doesn’t help that the Nutcracker is a wildly popular ballet, reaffirming connotations of delicacy and gentleness into what can only be called “the Nutcracker brand”. What was once a proud nut-masher, now finds itself dusty on the shelf, never to be properly used again.

You are probably thinking to yourself, “well, that makes sense to me; nuts still in a shell are generally more of a hassle than pre-shelled nuts, why would I bother using a Nutcracker when I can just buy these nuts without a shell” and that’s fine, but I think the amount of savings that one can realize simply from changing their nut type is something that will significantly change our perspective on Nutcrackers.

For starters, one pound of unshelled nuts is NOT the same as one pound of shelled nuts. In fact, according to the helpful research at, shelled nuts actually yield more nutmeat with:

  1 lb
  Almonds Hazelnuts Pecans Walnuts
With Shell 1.75 cups 1.5 cups 2.25 cups 1.66 cups
No Shell 3.5 cups 3.25 cups 4 cups 4 cups


You are probably thinking to yourself, “well this complicates things!” and boy does it. Instead of focusing on the cost per pound, I decided to look at the cost per cup (all prices from

  Almonds Hazelnuts Pecans Walnuts
  With Shell No Shell With Shell No Shell With Shell No Shell With Shell No Shell
Per lb Price $4.99 $10.99 $4.99 $12.99 $6.99 $13.99 $4.99 $11.99
Per cup Price $2.85 $3.14 $3.33 $4.00 $3.11 $3.50 $3.01 $3.00


Displaying the price in a table, we see that nuts in a shell (with the exception of walnuts) are generally cheaper than already shelled nuts when compared on a cup level. Thus, Nutcracker usage for mixed nuts does lead to overall savings (and an overall holiday cheer increase) during the holiday season.

What’s this have to do with healthcare utilization? There’s more than one way to look at the issue of usage, specifically how are you using a product. In this instance, if you are using nuts to cook with, you shouldn’t be looking at the price per pound, but should instead be focused on the price per cup. Convenience is also a factor, if you’re cooking with a pound of nuts, you probably don’t want to spend the added time and effort cracking shells. However, if you’re looking to snack or leave a bowl of nuts on the table for the holidays, cracking nuts may actually be a better option. Knowing how and when you use a product allows you to make informed decisions, whether it is an IV Start Kit or an antique Nutcracker.

At the end of the day, I’m not telling you to meticulously measure out how much wrapping paper you use or to replace your yuletide log with a YouTube video of a fireplace, I’m simply asking you to utilize your Nutcrackers in the way they were always intended. This holiday season, be like me and use a Nutcracker. Heck, put on Tchaikovsky and dance around like the Mouse King while you crack your nuts, whatever brings you holiday joy.

Read Week 8:  Snow

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