Nutkrack, Madison-made candied nuts, rebrands as Fortune Favors | Meals & Drink

Nutkrack, a 5-year-old candied nut firm based in Madison, is getting a makeover and a brand new identify.

A brand new manufacturing facility in Cottage Grove provides Nutkrack the area to make a million kilos of candied pecans a 12 months, a 10-fold enhance to present manufacturing. The corporate has added new areas of Complete Meals shops to distribution, and is working towards getting its pecans on cabinets in each a part of the nation.  

However the identify, with its tacit connection to habit (and unlucky rhyme), needed to go. The brand new identify is Fortune Favors, which affords “a complete universe of alternative” for growth — new flavors, new product traces — and a enjoyable new design scheme too, in accordance with CEO Sam McDaniel.

“It’s an innovation with no change,” McDaniel stated. “We’ve one thing that feels acquainted … however then we are able to go into this new universe.”


Madison-based candied pecan model Nutkrack has modified its identify to Fortune Favors.

Chef Eric Rupert, previously the manager chef at Epic Programs in Verona, labored in wonderful eating for a few years, together with at L’Etoile when Odessa Piper received a James Beard Award (2001) and later because the opening chef of The Opera Home.

Rupert had been making candied pecans for household for years when he launched the enterprise along with his sons, Kellen and Colson, and his former Epic colleague Jessica Benish, now chief working officer. Nutkrack took over the Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier area at 2086 Atwood Ave. in 2018. The retail store is reopening on Saturday with new Fortune Favors totes and free samples from 10 a.m. to midday on Saturday, Might 20.

The modified phrase “crack” within the identify was not an accident, and it wasn’t (solely) a reference to crunch. In a 2018 interview with the Cap Instances, Rupert favored the addictive connection, describing how when he’d carry a 3-pound Ziploc bag of nuts on trip to Washington Island, household and pals would snack on them voraciously and ask for extra.

“Nutkrack, we thought, ‘Oh, that’s form of cheeky and enjoyable,’” Rupert stated. “This was 5, six years in the past, and it feels just like the world has shifted. Now I don’t see it that method.”

By 2019, different companies like HopCat (“crack fries”) and Milk Bar (“crack pie”) had begun to vary the names to issues like “cosmic fries” and “Milk Bar Pie” that don’t seem to make mild of the crack cocaine epidemic.

McDaniel stated Nutkrack had “a good variety of folks carry it up and say, ‘Hey, I don’t actually like that very a lot.’” Internally, they weren’t wedded to the identify, which began to appear like “a possible big pace bump down the street.”

“Should you’re going to work this tough at one thing, you’ve acquired to like the identify,” Rupert stated. “Personally, I’ve labored my method by means of habit. I misplaced my brother-in-law to habit. I’ve relations that wrestle mightily with it. … I simply don’t really feel nice about (the identify).”


Eric Rupert based Nutkrack in 2015 and opened a storefront on Atwood Avenue three years later. The candied nut firm is increasing additional and has modified its identify to Fortune Favors. 

Enterprise has continued to develop. The pandemic was an sudden accelerator for Nutkrack — internet gross sales for 2020 have been up 1,000% 12 months over 12 months, McDaniel stated, adopted by two extra very sturdy years. Ecommerce grew to become a strong income channel, after which they acquired the nuts into Complete Meals.

In the meantime, the Nutkrack identify “was beginning to really feel prefer it was driving a wedge a bit of bit,” Benish stated. “And that’s not what we’re aiming at.

“We’re not out right here attempting to capitalize on anyone’s tragedy,” Benish added. “We’re attempting to make merchandise that carry folks collectively and make them be ok with themselves and one another.”

Fortune favors these pecans

Rupert, McDaniel and Benish labored with Madison-based design agency Planet Propaganda to give you the brand new identify and emblem. The can wrap is filigreed with fantastical creatures — squirrels with delicate wings and mermaid tails, surrounded by lush flora. “Nuts + Enchanted” underlines the identify.

“Their course of is extremely thorough,” McDaniel stated. “We wished to take all the good issues that exist with the model … the enjoyment that it brings, the whimsy, the nostalgia, the constructive emotions and camaraderie, and amplify them.”


Planet Propaganda in Madison designed the brand new labels for Fortune Favors, previously Nutkrack. 

The identify will enable growth into new product traces and higher visibility for present ones. Amongst these is the Magic Bar, a collaboration with Mayana Chocolate in Spooner. Made with 65% darkish chocolate, vanilla nougat and Nutkrack pecans, it’s like a high-end pecan-based Snickers, a pecan parallel to a Zingerman’s ZZang! sweet bar.

“With this constructing, with the model modifications, we’re already realizing benefits,” McDaniel stated. “We’re putting in an automatic packaging line, which can enable us to do all types of issues. … As a result of Eric’s not standing on the packaging desk, he has time to work on these flavors.”

Nutkrack’s core line of flavors contains Traditional (salt and sugar), Firecracker (including chilis/cayenne) and All the pieces (just like the bagel, with poppy seeds, garlic, sesame seeds and dried onion).  

Rupert developed a seasonal Up North combine (cherries, chocolate and pecans) and a Winter Hotter taste with cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, harking back to the sugared nuts at Chicago’s Christkindlmarket.

Two extra, involving basic higher Midwestern flavors, are at the moment in growth. They’re speaking about making a pecan butter (“down the road,” McDaniel stated) and utilizing pecan items as a substitute of entire pecans in a product. Fortune Favors might make bespoke candied nuts for particular shops.

“With the combination that we made for the vacations, we bought greater than 10 occasions what we budgeted to make within the fourth quarter final 12 months,” McDaniel stated. “It’s going to develop into a everlasting factor. And now we have been testing new flavors the entire time that we’ve been round.”

Fortune Favors will roll out the brand new look and identify with a merchandise vogue present and prizes on the Atwood store (set for Might 27), in addition to a number of “accomplice launch occasions” at Willy Road Co-op places and Metcalfe’s Hilldale.

“We would like to have the ability to present a face to the world that captures emotions of pleasure and sharing and positivity,” McDaniel stated. “Coming from the center of the folks right here. That’s a giant problem, to place that into two phrases and some footage.”