Remember when you were young, and around the holidays when there was baking to be done, your mom used to say "ok you kids, I need some nuts shelled for the brownies/cookies/cakes," and you all rolled up your sleeves and got down to business? Remember that?
How about Christmas morning when there were always nuts (in the shell) and an apple and an orange in your stocking, and maybe a few pieces of candy. Those were the days when no household was without a functional nutcracker and some picks.
I happen to have the original Moss family nutcracker and pick set. Angie said I could have it because I was the best nutcracker of all the Moss kids.
I sure was glad I knew right where my tools were when this arrived in my Christmas package from Dottie.
As you can see I have not lost my touch. I had the best time cracking these nuts and eating them. I don't recall when we were first able to buy shelled nuts in the store. I feel like it had to be after 1970. When I was discussing it with Mary Ann and Dottie, Mary Ann said it was 1990. She can't remember anything that happened before 1990 though, so her opinion on the matter doesn't count.
When I looked it up online I found that the first "shelling machine" was made in the 1920's but I couldn't find anything about when they became available in grocery stores. I intend to continue my search tonight as I try to stay awake to see the confetti explosion in Times Square at midnight. BUT if any of you happen to be an expert in the history of nuts I won't mind if you enlighten me here. In case my search is fruitless.