By Candice Wagener | Photographed by Sunny Frantz
Much like the invention of chocolate chip cookies and popsicles, Nutkrack’s creation was a happy accident. Creator Eric Rupert had several pots cooking on the stove simultaneously, including pecans and simple syrup to make candied pecans. Mindlessly scooping them up and transferring them into a different pot, Rupert realized from the sound he had made the wrong move. Discarding the nuts onto a sheet pan to deal with later, it would be several hours before he discovered just how delicious and incredibly addictive they were.
No secret ingredients here. In fact, there’s only four: Pecans sourced from New Mexico, a little bit of sugar, a pinch of sea salt and canola oil. Rupert plans to switch over to local, cold pressed canola oil from Marshall, Wisconsin, in the near future.
He is already a chef by day. The first Nutkrack customers came when Rupert, then working as executive chef at Epic, gave the nuts to visitors waiting in the lobby or to customers at events. Epic still supports his side gig, including his step down to a team leadership position to focus more on the business. Rupert was motivated to go public with Nutkrack when his son, Kellen, expressed interest in becoming involved shortly after graduation.
Rupert believes in creating a simple product with complex flavors. When he decided to start selling the nuts, he tested almost 50 different candied pecans from around the country and found most overly sweet. “I really want the nut to do the work,” says Rupert. He also hopes that Nutkrack will create special memories for people, especially as a popular host gift and party favor. “If you bring this to a party,” he says, “you will be everybody’s favorite human being.”