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  • Alex

Pineapple does not make food dishes Hawaiian

I love me some good pineapple. I prefer it fresh if possible, but I’ll take it anyway that I can to be honest. Growing up in Hawaii one of my favorite things to do was to go driving through the pineapple fields on Kamehameha Highway between Haleiwa and Wahiawa/Whitmore Village. At certain times of the year you could smell the sweet ripe pineapple in the air as you do so. In part, because of Dole’s role in pineapple production and it’s more notable base of operations/tourist site being located in Hawaii, pineapple has always been thought of as Hawaiian despite not having its roots being from there. Truth be told, most pineapples you eat via Dole are grown and canned outside of the country. But in my opinion, the one thing that is most annoying to me about pineapples is the thought of many that think if you put pineapple on something, that it automatically makes it Hawaiian. This could very well be a gross generalization, but let’s go with this anyway for goofiness sake.

The first time I was introduced to this concept was the first time I had a “Hawaiian pizza”. I was 12 years old on an excursion with my Boy Scouts troop. One of our leaders at the time treated us to dinner and bought us a bunch of pizzas. Someone handed me a slice of the Hawaiian pizza and I instantly thought to myself “what the hell is this crap.” One of the older boys said, “it’s a Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and Canadian bacon”. I looked at it for a while and thought, “man those Canadians were ripped off, because this is just ham”. I came to a quick conclusion, pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza, and this should really be called Canadian pizza instead because there’s nothing Hawaiian about it.

Many years later this concept was again introduced to me when I was 20 y/o. I was living in Pennsylvania at the time, and was invited over for dinner. The hosts knew that I was from Hawaii and made a special dish, which I at the very least appreciated the sentiment. They said, “we made you something called a Hawaiian haystack.” I replied, “Hawaiian haystack? What on Earth is that?” Their reply to my reply said it all, “You mean to tell me that you’re from Hawaii and you’ve never heard of the Hawaiian haystack!?!” We all just uncomfortably stared at each other for a minute and then I replied, “I’ve lived in Hawaii all my life and I’ve never seen a Hawaiian haystack ever, not even on a farm and not to say that they don’t exist. But this is an absolute first for me.”

Well folks, in case you didn’t know this is the general breakdown of said “Hawaiian” haystack:

  • Bottom layer of white rice

  • Next layer is some sort of chicken in a cream soup type deal (cream of chicken/mushroom, etc.)

  • Next later is the crunchy noodles that you would find in “Asian” salads

  • The Final layer is where the “Hawaiian” comes in as it’s topped with pineapples.

  • There tends to be variations with almonds on top of the pineapples as well.

I then described to the family what some actual Hawaiian dishes were, and then we all just stared uncomfortably at each other.

For the record here are just a few Hawaiian food dishes to tickle your fancy:

Lau Lau


Lomi Salmon

Kalua pork


Poi - Taro/Kalo variety


Pipi Kaula


Squid Luau

Ulu - Breadfruit

If you don’t know what any of these are, it’s okay, just google it. Otherwise this already long post will be even longer and I am by no means a writer of any kind. LOL

If we are talking strictly Hawaiian and not “local Hawaii” dishes (foods that have been adopted and adapted into everyday culture and foods from outside cultures and influences), not a single one of them contain pineapple. Now if we are talking about current local Hawaii dishes to my knowledge there’s not a whole lot that contain pineapple in them as well (exceptions to the rule are any touristy places, and of course Dole). So to say that a dish is Hawaiian by adding pineapple on it is just… dumb.

In conclusion, you can like whatever the hell it is that you like. You have the freedom to do that. But just know that if you’re gonna call something Hawaiian or in general Polynesian simply because you added pineapple or some other fruit, just be aware that a smackdown may be coming your way. LOL

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