A villager in China unknowingly used a hand grenade to crack walnuts for a quarter century, only realizing his potentially fatal mistake when he spotted the grenade on a government flyer.
The man, whose surname is Ran and who lives in Shaanxi province, claimed that a friend gave him the grenade in the early 1980s. Not having any idea what it was, he used it to crack open walnuts.
The nutcracker in this case was a Chinese Type 67 defensive hand grenade. The grenade is a so-called « stick » grenade, also known as a « potato masher. » Invented by the German Army in World War I, stick grenades contain an explosive charge in one end of the weapon. A pull string runs through the length of the handle and is concealed by a screw-on cap on the other end of the grenade. Pulling on the string ignites the fuze, and the grenade is then thrown at the enemy.
Ran allegedly only discovered the grenade’s true identity when he noticed it on a government flyer identifying prohibited explosives. He promptly turned it in to a local police station. He was not penalized.
Could the grenade have actually gone off? It may have been an inert training grenade, although those are usually clearly marked—and this one has no markings at all. If it was real, the explosives inside the grenade could have gradually become unstable over time, making it dangerous to handle.