Island Kitsch: Pineapple Fields Forever

What would Hawaii be without pineapple?

Recently I picked up a copy of Hawai’i Magazine while I had some time to kill. It had an article about the Hali’imaile Pineapple Company, Ltd. saving pineapple production on the island of Maui. For most people, this would be of passing interest. For me, it was like Christmas all over again.

I’ve worked the pineapple fields of Maui Land and Pine. I still remember where I was when I learned that the company was ceasing its pineapple operation. It was a very sad day. Hawaii and pineapple are forever associated with a really special time in my life. As I get older, I recognize that while some things may not be 100% perfect for the bottom line, they are worth preserving to maintain our connection to our roots. Hawaii pineapple is one of those worthy endeavors.

Nearly every family has a tradition that started by accident. One of my friends from high school had a tradition which called for cutting the Christmas ham at both ends and frying the ends as a pre-dinner treat for the kids. I asked why and his mother said that was the way her mother and grandmother had always done it. Later when she asked her aunt why the family did this, the aunt laughed and said it was because their mother had a roasting pan that was short and the ends needed to be cut to fit the pan. As far as I know they have a pan that is large enough now, but my friend’s family still keep this tradition alive.

There is a point to this whole post, and here it is. Many of the most enduring threads in the fabric of our lives happen by accident. It’s an adaptive thing. If this weren’t the case, we would all celebrate the holidays and major events in our lives the same way. We would lose a uniqueness that binds families and groups together. That would be a shame. Traditions are the lifeblood of cultures, they are a firm foundation that stays true even when the building changes throughout our lifetime.

Hawaii pineapple is the result of European entrepreneurship meeting ideal growing conditions. The rich, volcanic soil brings out the ideal sweetness like no other location can. Pineapple was around long before its introduction to the islands. But I can’t think of any icon that represents the spirit of aloha better. It is Hawaii. Just as the decision to discontinue pineapple growing operations on Maui was good business decision that stabilized the bottom line for Maui Land and Pine, the decision to revive it was the right one for the soul of the island.

(Incidentally, Seattle-based readers can get the specialty pineapple, Maui Gold, at the Pike Place Market – Frank’s Quality Produce was the last to mention it. All others can order them online at www.pineapplemaui.com . The latest word from the now one-year-old operation is that they are in the black and ahead of projections. Guess the right thing to do can be good for the bottom line.)

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Just out of curiosity, what are some family traditions that you know of that started by “accident” but events or holidays wouldn’t be the same without? Bonus points if they are island related.

At the suggestion of some loyal supporters, I am running a contest. Sometime this month, I will select a “follower” and they will be the recipient of a random makana (gift) with an island kitsch theme. Could be tiki lights, could be surfin Obama, could be Spam, could be something else. But you have to be a registered “follower” (register right over there >>>, click the button just to the right) to qualify.

Island Kitsch: Pineapple Fields Forever

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