We couldn't leave the island without visiting a macadamia nut factory.  Hawaii's mac nuts are enhanced with a surprising variety of flavors (wasabi, spam, jalapeno, etc.) -- clever marketing to encourage more sales.  Before the plant tour we tasted a variety of kona coffee blends. A local product that perfectly compliments the salty nuts.   We thought we were going to visit a "farm", but actually toured a processing plant because the company buys from many local farms and then dry, roast, and package the nuts here. 

The high cost and limited resources of island life requires industries be environmentally conservative and creative, and this operation was no different.  They burn discarded shells to make energy as steam that, in turn, dries the raw nuts.  And soon they hope to generate electricity for the island (along with the wind farms.)  In addition, they support the independent mac nut farmers to get a high quality of ingredients.  That's good business!

Donkey Balls!

Another ingenious marketing scheme for macadamia nuts are their famous "Monkey Balls", large chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.  You can find every imaginable combination from kona coffee, caramel, dark or white chocolate, and chili-pepper spiced flavors. There are 25 layers of chocolate around each nut, so they're huge, a fun gift to bring home, and supported by a dubious legend:  Back in the old days, wild donkeys roamed the island.  So when the field pickers returned with a day's harvest of nuts and coffee beans, men would remark, "Here come the donkey balls" because uncracked mac nuts resembled little balls.  The name was adopted when the chocolate covering was added, and today it's part of the enjoyable Hawaiian experience...

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AuthorRich Monroe