Hawaii is a unique state, and not just because it is a tropical island chain and the birthplace of surfing. The state is literally in the middle of the biggest ocean in the world. In terms of manufacturing and production, this means that anything that is manufactured here would either need raw materials grown here or imported. Then, the manufactured items would need to be sent back to the mainland for distribution. Due to the high cost of land to grow raw materials combined with an expensive or inadequate labor force, it is usually going to be cheaper to make almost anything somewhere else. Anywhere else.
But again, Hawaii is a unique state, and manufacturers are now taking pride in their ‘Made in Hawaii’ items, and these products can, in turn, get a higher premium.
So without further ado, here is my selection of Ten Things We Love: Made in Hawaii.
Gourmet coffee lovers take note- one of the most expensive types of coffee is grown and made right in Hawaii. Kona Coffee is the title given only to coffee that is grown in the Kona District of Hawaii. The flavor of Kona Coffee is unique to the growing conditions- porous volcanic soil, and the regions warm and consistent climate. All Kona Coffee is hand-picked, wet-method processed and sun-dried. There are over 600 farms in the Kona District that are in business growing and producing Kona Coffee. Though there are many brands, no 2 coffee companies and blends taste the same. Some Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Cupping Competition winning Kona Coffee brands include; Hula Daddy Kona Coffee, Kona Gold Rum Co., and Hawaiian Queen Coffee. For more information about Kona Coffee and for a list of past winning companies, visit the Kona Coffee Council website.
Niihau Shell Lei
A post about Hawaii would be remiss to not include an authentically traditional Hawaiian item. Just off the coast of the island of Kauai is a privately owned island called Niihau, which not only has its own dialect of the Hawaiian language but its own unique history and culture. The origins of the Niihau shell lei are unknown, but residents of Niihau have been making shell lei from the tiny shells that surround their island home since at least 1778 when Captain Cook first visited the islands. The stunning pieces of jewelry were first brought to the attention of the courts of Europe when Queen Kapi‘olani traveled to London to attend Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887. In fact, Ni'ihau Shells are the only shells recognized by gemologists as gems, consequently, they are the only shells that are insurable as fine jewelry. The value of the lei can range from $100 for a single strand, to over $30,000 for multiple strands with the rarer and more desirable colors. Maui Hands, a gift and art gallery featuring 100% made in Hawaii products, has a selection of exquisite lei available in their four retail stores on Maui, with a few selected pieces on their website. Each Lei (from Maui Hands) comes with a certificate of authenticity and a lifetime warranty.
Liz Smith is a Maui-based publicist who is the creator of the blog Maui Made.
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