Guest post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein
There are some folks who find a passion and just go with it. Kenneth Pape who owns Pape’s Pecan House in Seguin, Texas is one of those people. He started collecting nutcrackers in the 1950s. Since then, he’s acquired more than 8,000 and showcases his bounty at the Nutcracker Museum housed at the Pecan House, his business that distributes pecans and pecan products.
The nutcracker bounty spans from the 1800s to current times and continues to grow as people add to Pape’s collection.
The Nutcracker Museum that fills one and a half rooms of the Pape’s Pecan House is a one-of-a-kind place that chronicles Pape’s interest in showcasing nutcracker history, whimsy, and global appeal.
Of course there are dozens of nutcrackers that give a nod to the nutcracker soldier in Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” ballet, Santa Claus, and those that I remember from visiting my grandparents at Christmas where a metal nutcracker set was on the coffee table along with a bowl of unshelled mixed nuts. There’s also the nutcracker cowboy, the largest nutcracker I’ve ever seen.
There are others that chronicle popular culture and politics. Sports themed figures hold tennis rackets, fishing poles, and a variety of balls from baseball to football. Ronald Reagan and Lyndon Johnson are hand-carved from wood, and Hillary Clinton, still in a box, is a modern commercial version.
Others are grouped by countries and others by style. It’s mishmash where browsing the collection is a must for taking in the scope of the offerings. Most nutcrackers don’t have explanation of their significance but one can pick up a pattern and the themes of the displays by looking at the simple labels on the shelves.
If you see the nutcracker with the fur skirt, ask for a demonstration. This one is slightly naughty. As the nutcracker’s mouth opens, something else pops out.
I particularly liked the display of nutcrackers with a Native American theme. They are lovely and show how artistry goes along with functionality.
One display case is dedicated to lime boxes and betel nuts. Betel nuts, popular in Asia have quite the paraphernalia that is as varied as the nutcrackers in the museum’s collection. There are betel nut crackers and storage cases along with a bit of history and description of the betel nut and its use.
Although there are not nutcrackers for sale, there are other Pape’s products to purchase. Here’s where you’ll find all sorts of pecan items from plain shelled pecans to pecan candy, oils and pecans in their shells.
Another Pape’s Pecan House claim to fame is the World’s Largest Mobile Pecan. The World’s Largest Pecan is mounted in Seguin’s town square. You can’t miss it.
Pape’s Pecan House Nutcracker Museum is free, although it’s hard to leave without buying something. I bought pecan oil, pecans and a praline.
If you head to the address at 5440 S. Highway 123 Bypass, Seguin, look for Pape’s Pecan House on your right a few miles from town. We missed it on our first try. The Pape’s Pecan House is part of the pecan distribution business that’s housed on the same property.
This is one of those don’t miss attractions if you happen to be passing through this part of Texas. It’s worth the short drive out of Seguin.