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Holiday Trends: Nuts for the Nutcracker

December 15, 2010 | 12:58 pm


Is it just us or is the menacing wooden Nutcracker getting more than his fair share of the marketing limelight this holiday season?

Sure, the whole military trend is huge. And yes, we realize he's one of only a handful of stock Christmastime characters -- and there are only so many ads filled with pointy-eared, cap-wearing elves the viewing public can tolerate -- and that the title character of Tchaikovsky's 1892 ballet has appeared Rage_mm in many a commercial (last year, he appeared as a rapping DJ in a Radio Shack commercial, and used a Garmin to enjoy a night of holiday revelry in another), but over the last few weeks we swear we've seen the little wooden fellow everywhere.

At Walgreens we found him casting a shifty gaze toward some chocolate-covered almonds on packages of holiday M&Ms, on TV he can be found singing back-up vocals for Target's Electronic Santa ads and flapping his jaw in a conversation with other ornaments (in a thick accent that's probably supposed to be Russian) as he dangles from a Christmas tree in a Vons commercial.

But possibly the creepiest -- and highest-profile -- manifestation of the character came with Planters'  new Mr. Peanut ad campaign, in which "Richard Stevens" (the name he bears on Mr. P'Troika_nutcrackers Facebook page) crashes the Christmas party with a six-pack of root beer and briefly apologizes for his past boorish -- but undescribed -- behavior (whatever transgression it was -- and we can only guess -- it left our top-hatted legume with a bandage and a cracked shell).

Maybe it has something to do with the big-screen, live-action 3-D "The Nutcracker" that hit theaters this season. Or perhaps it's that the soldier with the nut-cracking jaw represents the dark and destructive side of our otherwise cheery holiday outlook, marching to the beat of his own drummer.

Or maybe his presence in the popular culture pantheon hasn't changed at all since last season.

And we're just nuts.

-- Adam Tschorn

Upper photo: Nutcrackers standing at attention at a Dresden, Germany, Christmas market, Credit: Sean Gallup / Getty Images)

Middle photo: An M&M Nutcracker on a bag of holiday candy. Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: A screen capture from Target's Electronic Santa TV ad.

Below, a Planters holiday ad: