February 14, 2019

A Happy Accident

Eric Rupert in Kitchen

It all began as a mistake. Our founder, Chef Eric Rupert, was hard at work in his kitchen, the stovetop crowded with pots and pans, when he accidentally dropped some pecan halves into the wrong pot. After beating himself up for his error, as chefs are wont to do, he pulled the pot from the stove and put the pecans to the side to cool, intending to throw them away.

When he next noticed them an hour or so later, he stopped and looked more closely. They had a perfect, shiny glaze, as if they had been intentionally, carefully prepared. He tasted one, and was surprised at how crunchy and delicious it was. Over the next hour, he ate them all.

The next day, he set out to repeat his mistake, on purpose this time. He added a little sea salt to compliment the mild sweetness and perfect toasty notes of the prior day’s pecans. Rather than eating them all himself, he shared this second batch with family and friends. They were a unanimous hit, and a tradition was born: Eric would prepare these accidental treats as holiday gifts, and he did so for years.

Fast forward to 2014, to a family vacation on Washington Island in northeastern Wisconsin. At a backyard dinner with all of his favorite people, the same topic kept coming up: Eric should start a business, making this holiday treat a year-round product for the masses. There was one large problem with that plan: Eric was already employed by an amazing company, in a dream job he had worked his entire 40 year career to achieve. Undaunted, this group of friends kept on him, even proposing the name Nutcracker for this potential project. To placate his loved ones, Eric looked into a trademark for the product, and found the name was already owned by someone else. The group settled on the shortened Nutkrack, with a k. Eric obtained the trademark, and promptly set the idea aside to focus on his real job.

Three years later, Eric’s son Kellen brought it up again. He encouraged his Dad to take the leap, with Kellen as his right hand. They looked further into the idea, and stumbled onto the perfect production and retail space on Atwood Avenue in Madison. In June of 2018, the shop opened, serving the candied pecan lovers of Madison, and online and wholesale sales began shortly after.

Nutkrack is now available at more than 30 locations in Madison, and all over the state of Wisconsin. We will be arriving soon in Minnesota and Illinois. To date we have shared more than 35,000 samples of Nutkrack to an adoring public, and we look forward to sharing some with you soon!