Nutcrackers originated during the 19th century in the eastern region of Germany, the Erzgebirge. Life was difficult for many people who worked long hours in the mines and endured hardships and poverty. Often the miners watched as their superiors confiscated the fruits of their labor. With forests and wood being available, toymakers created and cleverly designed nutcrackers to resemble the authoritarian figures of kings, policemen and soldiers. What started out as a practical tool often ended up an expression of social critique by the common people.