Nutcracker: The Original Story - Crackatook

Illustration, of "The Nutcracker," by Maxim Mitrofanov, a prolific Russian artist who illustrates children's books (among other things). Copyright, Maxim Mitrofanov, all rights reserved. Image of Drosselmeier and his companion, searching for Crackatook, provided here as fair use for educational purposes. Mitrofanov’s illustrations appear in a version of Hoffman’s tale—“The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”—translated into Russian by I. Tatarinov and published by Rosmen-Press in 2011.


As Marie and her family members listen to Drosselmeier’s tale, they are mesmerized by the details of his story. It even includes the town of Nuremberg, a city that many 19th-century Germans know well.

Marie wonders ... is this story true, partially true or totally made-up?

“When they reached Nuremberg, Drosselmeier suggested that they visit his cousin, Zachariah, who was a toymaker, a doll-carver and a master glider. They told Zachariah all about Princess Pirlipat, evil Mouserink, the Great Nut Crackatook and all their travel adventures.

“As the toymaker listened, he grew more and more excited. Finally, he suddenly threw his wig in the air and shouted:

But cousin, your troubles are over. Crackatook is HERE!

“The toymaker explained that one Christmas, some years ago, a stranger had arrived at his toy shop with a bag of nuts for sale. The man had been attacked by the local nutsellers and his bag was run over by a heavy cart which smashed all the nuts but one. The stranger sold him this unusual nut for a gold coin dated 1796.

“The toymaker then pulled a golden nut out of a cardboard box. The astrologer carefully scraped away the gold ... and ... imagine the joyful surprise when there - on the side of the nut, written in Chinese lettering, they saw the word CRACKATOOK. But ... how much greater was their excitement when, that night, the astrologer said:

Good Luck always comes in pairs. We’ve not only found the Great Nut, but, perhaps the man to crack it. Here he is - Zachariah’s son!

“Zachariah’s son was very handsome and had never shaven or worn any boots. He stood in the shop, wearing a fine read coat, a splendid pigtail and a sword by his side. Dressed like this, he spent his time cracking nuts for the young ladies, who called him ‘the handsome nutcracker.’

“The astrologer had an idea:

I’m going to draw his horoscope.

“The next morning, the astrologer strode into the toymaker’s kitchen waving his horoscope chart triumphantly. He announced:

It IS him! And I’ve found out something else. We must let several other young men have a go at cracking Crackatook before Nutcracker. I predict that when they fail, the king will promise the throne and Pirlipat’s hand in marriage to the man who breaks the nut.

“At this, the toymaker’s son was delighted, He let his uncle make him an especially strong pigtail made of wood, which was then tied to his jaw. For practice, he spent the rest of the day cracking the hardest peach puts he could find, and walking backwards while wearing a blindfold.

“The friends sent word of Crackatook to the king and queen, who had already been advertising for eligible young gentlemen with strong teeth. From far and wide they came and, of course, there were one or two princes among them.

“The competition began and sure enough, as the astrologer had predicted, all the gentlemen failed to crack Crakatook. One or two exhausted competitors were even carried out by the court dentists. At last, the king was so fed up that he offered his kingdom and Pirlipat’s hand in marriage to the man who could succeed. Here the astrologer winked at the clockmaker as if to say ‘I told you so!’

“It was young Drosselmeier’s turn to step forward. When Pirlipat saw the handsome young man she clasped her hands to her heart. She thought:

Oh, let it be him!

“Young Drosselmeier picked up Crackatook and placed the nut between his teeth. With two snaps, the shell shattered!

“He then presented the kernel, courteously, to the princess.

“As Pirlipat started eating the kernel, he closed his eyes and carefully began to take the seven magical steps backwards, following the astrologer’s instructions - one, two, three... The whole court fell silent. All eyes were on Pirlipat as she swallowed the last of the nut. Courtiers and servants gasped in union - there stood a golden-haired princess again!

“But just as Drosselmeier took his seventh step backwards, Dame Mouserink popped up through the floor. The heel of the young man’s shoe spiked her neck and he stumbled. His body shrank, his head grew enormous, and his pigtail was replaced by a wooden cloak, that worked his jaw. The handsome boy had become ... an ugly Nutcracker!

“Dame Mouserink lay squeaking horribly:

                        Nutcracker, Nutcracker,                        
You’ll soon be dead,
Killed by my son
With seven heads!

“With that, she died. She was unceremoniously picked up and carried out by the court’s stove-lighter.

“Meanwhile ... the court was so busy admiring Pirlipat’s restored beauty, and she was so busy basking in all the admiration, that all were oblivious to young Drosselmeier’s fate. But then the princess reminder her father of his promise and the young man was brought forward. When she saw what had befallen the unfortunate hero, she hid her face in her hands, crying out:

Papa! Get that hideous creature out of my sight!

“Poor Nutcracker, the clockmaker and the astrologer were all banished from the court. Yet ... the astrologer predicted that the spell on the handsome young Drosselmeier could be broken - but only when the Mouse King had been killed and a lady had fallen in love with Nutcracker despite his ugliness.”

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 14, 2017

Updated Last Revision: Dec 15, 2017

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Crackatook" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 14, 2017. Jan 29, 2020.
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