by chelsea schuyler

Nuts are filthy, nondelicious liars!

Nuts in a nutshell, are not nuts!

So what is true nuttiness? Well, to talk about nuts, we need to talk about fruit. “Fruit” is such a broad term, so lets avoid loins, looms, and cakes, and go straight to default grocery speak. When we talk about plums, peaches, and apricoty things we are actually referring to a kind of fruit, called:

a DRUPE – a plant structure with a fleshy outside surrounding a pit–a hard shell with a seed inside. Raspberries and blackberries etc are drupes, each little berry just has tens of mini-drupes, called drupelets (for adorability purposes), joined together in a group.

Don’t you love knowing that? And why can’t they make other fruits do that? If they can make seedless watermelon they can surely go all chihuahua on peaches and put out some peachberries.

Okay, so what’s a nut? The following may not be suitable for …anyone.


Almonds: Not a nut, a seed! From a drupe! Everyday almonds that we see are shelled (i.e. the shells are removed), we don’t usually see their hard casings. But that’s not the end of it, in nature (remember her? we’ll have to step outside of the grocery store for a second, cuz it’s about to get real in the whole foods parking lot), that shell is surrounded by a fleshy (more like leathery) outer layer that’s green and fuzzy and kermity in flavor. Making it, a drupe. A soft fruit, with a pit inside, with a seed inside. Almonds = a seed.

Pistachios: Not a nut, a seed! From a drupe! Comes in a fleshy skin, with a hard shell, with a seed inside. The part we eat is therefore a seed. (did you know that pistachios were originally dyed to hide the bruises on the shells from hand picking? They’re machine-picked now, but consumers continue to expect their non-nuts horrifyingly colored).

Getting the hang of this?

Walnut: same
Cashew nut: same
Brazil nut, Pecan, Hickory, Macadamia: same
Pine nut: same (although they are not from a drupe. They are just seeds at the end of certain Pine trees, which are gymnosperms (the nonflowering/nonfruiting plants. Literally “naked seed.”)

What about peanuts? Actually a legume.

Okay, WTF is a legume already?? 29 years I still don’t know this. You know what it is? A friggin pod. Technically, it’s a different kind of fruit, a nondrupe. Specifically, the fruit (pod) of plants belonging to the bean family “Fabaceae”. You know how peanuts come in those softish shells found on the floors of rib roast restaurants? POD. Peanuts = legumes.

You know what else come in pods.
Aliens = legumes. Alright not all pods are legumes, but all legumes are pods. Mostly. …Mostly.

So..what ARE nuts? If you went to a nuthouse what would there be left to find?? Well my friends, like a drupe or a legume, a nut is simply another kind of fruit. Confused? Me too. F this explanation. Let us make like a digestive system and break it down.

Of the fruits:

If you’re a drupe, you have a soft outside.
If you’re a nut, you have a hard outside.
If you’re a legume, you have a pod outside (and are in the bean family or from outer space).

Really real nuts are any of such bitches that come in those hard, pointy husks (literally giant burrs) that punish perfectly innocent bare feet in a supposedly harmless backyard.

Acorn.   ow                               Hazelnut.  Ow!             Chestnut. OW!! JESUS

That’s it?!  That’s it.  When we say nut what we really mean is seed.

The biggest difference other than a useless, pointy, dangerous, and inedible skin, is that nuts are “indehiscent” – they don’t split open to expose the seed.  In many nuts the seed is actually fused to the shell.  Which I think is pretty indecent of them.

You know how pistachios are split open all nice and convenient like that? They’re dehiscent (dehiscent? Me?).  Legumes are dehiscent as well. They split, eventually.

SIDENOTE OF AWESOME: Speaking of not nuts, the best kind of dehiscency is Explosive Dehiscence: where the shell of the seed detonates and flings the seed out away from it. Plants exploding. How is that not cool? Don’t Mexican Jumping Beans make so much more sense now? WRONG! In that case, a small grey moth inserts her larva inside the bean, it eats the bean, grows, and then throws itself against the capsule wall. Alright, well, nothing ruins a magic bean like larva.  But I digress.

So basically, if the shell has a seam, where it would split eventually, it ain’t a nut.

So, what can we take away from this?

  1. Almond Joys do not have nuts. Mounds are still just kind of unsatisfying.
  2. Nutella is a bona fide nut product (derived from hazelnuts. It was invented during a time when cacao was highly rationed due to World War II, but hazelnuts were plentiful)
  3. Nutter Butters = Legumer Butters
  4. Nutcracker, I don’t know what he’s cracking but it ain’t nuts.

According to a totally untrustworthy source, the Chinese consider the almond a “symbol of enduring sadness and female beauty.” Enduring sadness. And female beauty. I love that anything can symbolize Enduring Sadness, enduring, really? Like a sadness that fights crime against all odds?

Are you Chinese? How do you feel about almonds? Send me your comments using the form below…