Many people in businesses ranging from finance to bicycle repair commonly use the term “making the nut” as a way to gauge how they are faring vis-à-vis the bottom line. Far fewer people, however, know the origin of the term.
It dates from the 1500’s in England when traveling theatrical troupes went around the countryside plying their trade. The players would reside in a local inn while they performed in a given township before moving on and repeating the pattern in the next tavern. Since actors were not considered the most credit-worthy types, the innkeeper demanded some security, which would be his taking and holding the large nut from one of their wagon wheels. This was a convenient and symbiotic transaction for both parties: the players short of gold or possessions would not have to part with anything dear in advance, and the innkeeper was assured they could not skip town before paying their bill. When their performances generated enough in coins or goods to pay the innkeeper and redeem the critical pieces of their wagon wheel, the performers “made the nut,” and the troupe could move on to the next stop.
Philip & Marilyn
PS—Speaking of theatre in the 1500’s, stay tuned tomorrow for more about Shakespeare’s theatre!