Classic Hawaii Snack Chips

Maebo’s One-Ton Chips, 26 oz. Jar from Costco, $13.99

Ruffles, Doritos and Funyuns snack chips may be household names across the US, but there are several local brands that are precious to folks who grew up with them in Hawaii. Arguably at the top of that list is Maebo’s One-Ton Chips.

Maebo Noodle Factory had its humble beginning in 1950 in Hilo on the big island of Hawaii, going through some changes, including a fire in 2003 that destroyed their factory.

Fortunately they built a new factory and continue to produce the delicious One-Ton Chips which are available for purchase in most Hawaii supermarkets and online at their website today.

That massive jar I have pictured above is currently available at Oahu’s Costco and Sam’s Club locations (and I assume at all other locations across the 808 state). They’re also sold in 15 oz. and 4 oz. packages in most supermarkets.

Just as important as the contents are the logo and packaging, which those familiar to it, immediately recognize the One-Ton Weightlifter Man and blue and red label. Super classic!

As is common with most Hawaii-made products, they’re comparably more expensive than the mainland competition. Still, these chips are gems and worth the extra price for admission.

Maebo’s One-Ton Chips

“One-Ton” is a clever and obvious twist on Wonton, that famous Chinese noodle wrapper. Well, these One-Ton chips are essentially like the Crispy Wonton you’ve had in that Chinese restaurant down the street, just more crispy and a little sweeter, thanks to the addition of sugar, cornstarch and whole eggs.

They’re great for snacking as is, or even better yet, use them as a topping for the PERFECT Oriental Salad. I’ll retrofit a recipe and demo of that in here later.

Again, very crisp, slightly sweet, slightly salty. A delicate balance that Maebo presents in the perfect form of what a Wonton…excuse me.. ehem.. ONE-TON chip should be. Love it.

Second on my hit list are Nibb-its…

Nibb-its bar-b-que flavored potato curls, 2.5 oz. package, $3.49 at Foodland

Nibb-its were very popular in Hawaii during the late 70’s and early 80’s. They were one of very few chips on the shelf at the time that had a really spicy, barbecue flavor, and very unique texture and appearance.

I can’t tell you much about its history, except that they’re manufactured by Yick Lung, a former household Hawaii name that was synonymous with Li Hing Mui “Cracked Seed”. From the 80’s, on back, you could find Yick Lung seeds in Long’s Drugs at every checkout counter. Today they seem to be a phantom business with just a few products such as this, and very limited production and distribution to Hawaii stores.


On that note, I must say, the Nibb-its on shelves today aren’t the same as I remember them from childhood. While a good try, they lack the porosity, fluff and prominent spicy barbecue flavor I remember them to be. While these here aren’t bad in and of itself, again, not the same. These are more “sealed” if you will. Crunchy, but too dense. Not fluffy enough. Best way to describe it. Most importantly, there isn’t enough barbecue spice flavoring sprinkled on it, making them bland to the original in comparison. I remember the originals being rather HOT, spice-wise.

Heck, go pick up a bag and try them yourself and let us know what you think.

What is nice is that the original label was preserved, so the nostalgia of the brand and the core of the chip is still there. Yick Lung just needs to work on the authenticity of flavor and texture a bit more.

Merchandised on an independent metal rack in Foodland next to the Nibb-its were these Yick Lung Shrimp Chips…

Yick Lung Shimp Flavored Chips, $3.79.

I can’t recall Yick Lung producing this in the past, but if you do, let us know. There’s a much more widely distributed brand of Shrimp Chips from Frito Lay’s Maui style label.

Yick Lung Shrimp Chips

The characteristics that sets these apart from the Maui Style brand are the assorted colors (Maui’s is only white) and the higher price per serving; almost $4 for a bag of chips I can practically count how many there are in the bag at one glance. Otherwise, just your typical slightly greasy, lightly salted shrimp chip.

You can buy uncooked shrimp chips in asian supermarkets and deep fry them yourself. Those are very cheap.

My hopes are that Yick Lung steps up their game and becomes a leading Hawaii brand once again. How can you forget the name, “Yick Lung”?!

Last but not least, another classic are the Maui Potato Chips from the Maui Potato Chip Factory out of Kahului. These are thick kettle cut type, rather greasy and salty but certainly ono. They’re easily to identify on the shelf with their clear package and red and yellow imprinted label.

I just got off the phone with someone at the Maui Potato Chip Factory, and they said currently there are NO distributors on the island of Oahu, but they are available all over Maui. The last place on Oahu to carry it was Star Market Kahala, but they closed. Next time family flies over (or I fly there), I’ll get a bag and retrofit a story on it here.


Classic Hawaii Snack Chips — 38 Comments

  1. *wah* I want some One-Ton chips, and Shrimp Chips (yes, I remember them from my childhood in Kalihi) and why—WHY?? didn’t you do a picture of that other all time favorite…sugar-coated, weirdly-colored puffed rice? I think maybe Maebo did them too. And that whole thing about Yick Lung got me singing that Yick Lung jingle. Yum, yum, Yick Lung…

  2. I remember a favorite snack of a bag of Nibb-its and a half pint box of POG after a MAY DAY performance or during summer school recess. The POG was conveniently partially frozen with chunks and sharp shards of ice slush in the mix. Without the ice, the box (The cardboard box made it easy to get the larger chunks of ice …convenient.)would quickly empty and leave a child masochist looking for an alternative. YOU NEEDED THE ICE.

    The SPICY-HOT puff would have you sucking hot tap water out of a sabotaged, pencil stuffed, high pressure playground fountain, that when turned on, forcefully SQUIRTED water into your eyes blinding you. With eyes shut tight, you are forced to obscenely search the air for the cooling waters of the menehune springs. All the while hoping that your laughing freinds would choke on their own Nibb-its or project juicy Nibb-its out of their noses. Yes, eating Nibb-its was a science as well an adventure for a third grader.

    So I bought a bag, a while ago. The partially frozen, now plastic, bottle of POG at the ready. The bag is torn open, and i’m not sure, but it doesn’t smell the same. The new more expensive, lower quality of stick nibb-its, look like uncooked seasoned fries that need to be dropped into the deep fryer. The first handfull was a disappointment. No flavor, no heat, nada. The original BBQ puff, would suck the moisture off of your tongue and occaisonally bite back, like a shrimp chip. The new versions texture is lacking that bite as well as the spicy bite. Two quick handfulls get stuffed into my mouth and a sad realization comes over me. It’s not the same. It will never be the same. I wash the flavorless cud down with my drink. As I stare at the frozen juice stuck in the bottle, I make a mental note to never eat it again. Disgusted at what has happened to a favorite childhood snack, I roll up the bag and discard it, and wait for the rest of the juice to melt. I guess I’m lucky …I didn’t get water squirted in my eye. But my vision is getting blurred :'( Oh well, que sera sera.

  3. I would like to order several bags of the “yick lung shrimp chips” what are the shipping costs and do you have a catalog.

  4. Hi Cynthia.

    The Frito Lay “Maui Style” Shrimp chips are just as good (if not better than Yick Lung), and much affordable, ounce for ounce. In fact, our local Costco stocks them. Here’s a website that sells it online….

    They’re not colorful like the Yick Lung brand, but that’s just food coloring anyway. What’s good is that the Frito Lay brand is very crisp and not oily.

    The Yick Lung brand is very hard to find, even here in Hawaii.

  5. Hi, My name is Lelyaundry Kipilii I was wondering if your company have a job opening for a position in Hilo Hawaii. My number is 808-966-9599. Im hardworking dependable, and is willing to learn new things. Please would you call me if or not you have an opening very much appreciated it. Thank you very much for your time.
    Lelyaundry Kipilii

  6. Hi, My name is Lelyaundry Kipilii I was wondering if your company have a job opening for a position in Hilo Hawaii. . Im hardworking dependable, and is willing to learn new things. Please would you call me if or not you have an opening very much appreciated it. Thank you very much for your time.
    Lelyaundry Kipilii

  7. I also remember nibbits being a little hot. Maybe it was me just being a kid. I ordered a case of them not so long ago (which costed me more the just penny’s) and was very supprised to see everything that you mentioned above, bland and flavorless. I guess I will always have the memories on what they used to taste like. aloha.

  8. Hi, I just wanted to know where in the island you folks are selling nib bits chips I hardly can find any any where can I get it straight from da company and you folks should go back to the regular taste like before more tasty and ono.

  9. Hi Joyce,

    Funny you should ask that, as, out of curiosity, I was just looking for Nibb-its the other day (again) at the same Foodland in Aina Haina where I purchased the package shown here back in 2007, to no avail. Unless they had moved it elsewhere, no sign of Yick Lung brand snack chips to be seen in the chips aisle.

    I just tried calling Yick Lung, but nobody answered the phone.

    Here’s Yick Lung’s contact info, if you’d like to try:

    Yick Lung Co. Inc.
    P.O. Box 1517
    Honolulu, HI 96806
    tel. 808-841-3611

  10. Hi Pomai, Thanks for the contact information I probably will go straight to the company I think they are located somewhere in Kalihi I found some packages at the Shell gas station at Kapolei but the due date was already expired.

  11. Greetings from Montana,

    I was born and raised on da island of kauai-PUHI.
    I attended my 30th class reunion KAUAI HIGH SCHOOL., in Vegas …and I went to shop at this store ABC and g uess what? I saw this bag of one ton chips and I missed it so much that I had to buy a few bags to take home oh my god ! it brought me back lot of childhood memories when I ate it so much then….now I know where to get them. yumm!

  12. I too have been disappointed with the modern Yick Lung Nibbits. They taste more like those cheap shrimp chips that you can get for a dollar at Longs.

    HOWEVER!! I have come across something that is pretty darn close! They are the “Hawaiian Luau Barbeque Rings” made by Tim’s Cascade Snacks. I’ve only seen them in the single-serving bags, 1.5 ounce. But they taste (and ‘feel’ – you mentioned the texture and I agree) like the old Nibbits did, only they’re in an “O” shape.

    What’s more, they sell the same flavor on potato chips! Those are very tasty too! And they go great with sandwiches…

    Both come in orange bags, and I see them at Times all the time, as well as a couple of other stores. I think they also do a Maui Onion potato chip that comes in a lavendar bag, and while those are pretty good as well, I like the ‘luau barbeque’ taste way more.

    Go get em!!!

  13. Joyce, I just had a nice phone conversation with Patty, the third generation owner/operator of Yick Lung company. She mentioned this year the company turned 109 years old and are very much still in business. There were some difficulties with the business when her father, who developed the mass production of Yick Lung seeds at their former Dillingham factory, became ill then passed away. Which eventually led to selling the factory (and property) and doing away with manufacturing of cracked seeds here in Honolulu.

    Yick Lung’s primary products currently are Shrimp Chips, Nibb-its and Taco Tubes. I forgot to ask if they still distribute the Li Hing Mui candy. IIRC, her son was the brainchild of that idea. They have accounts with most major locally-owned supermarkets here on Oahu.

    They should expand their product line. Start by relabeling imported cracked seeds from China with that classic yellow Yick Lung bag tag. Isn’t that what Enjoy Snacks are doing?

  14. Oh man I am totally craving one ton chips now!! My great grandmother was the one that started the Maebo noodle factory and I miss both her and the chips! I live in Montana now but everytime i go home i get a bag of those famous chips. I didn’t realize how expensive they were though, i never acutally paid for them when i was growing up so i had no idea they were that expensive!! But it is defintely worth the price tag!

  15. HaynKeiki, as of yet Yick Lung doesn’t have a website. Also, last I checked, Foodland doesn’t carry their products anymore, and can’t confirm at this moment which other local supermarkets may have them. I’m guessing most likely Don Quijote, Times and Star Market still carries them.

    Try calling the company at (808) 841-3611 and they (most likely Patty) can better direct you where/how exactly to get them.

    B-T-W, they’re called Nibb-its, not “NIBLITS”, although that’s quite a catchy name too!

    In the mean time, Kona Chips company has an ecommerce site set-up where you can buy their version of Shrimp Chips online, including one with Furikake on it!

  16. Found Yick Lung chips at all Safeway stores. Also I think Longs too. I heard they were working on improving the products tastes from what is remembered from kid days. Good to see they are still trying to survive in this economy.

  17. Pomai, they have at Trader Joes Wonton Chips also but it their own brand in regular season or hot mustard. Tasted it and not that great as one made in Hawaii. They used to have chocolate mochi and green mochi but mainlanders did’nt go for it too bad.

  18. Wow, Trader Joes has mochi? But I guess from what written it gone due to not much on mainland like mochi. I remember one person said they did not like texture of it. Green tea mochi sound good too bad but we do not need Trader Joes in Hawaii for Whole Food is good enough.

  19. Trader Joes now do not have the mochis lack of enough sales also wonton chips for the same reason. They did not make the wonton chips that good like in Hawaii and I brought a bag to find out that time.

  20. Betty and Kelike, what I wish Trader Joe’s would offer are samples of each “mystery snack” they sell. I hate picking and choosing there, wondering what’s good and what isn’t, especially as an uninformed tourist (from Hawaii of all things, go figgah).

    kanakattack, mahalo for the 411 on Safeway.

    Speaking of which, I need to give Patty back a call and see what’s going on with Yick Lung. We need that brand back! Such an old school Hawaii classic!

  21. The yick lung co telephone number has been disconnected. Does anyone know where I can order nibb-its on the internet. We live in florida and we miss the hawaiian grinds.

  22. Re-joice!! Thanks to lisa!! It’s as close as you can find to the original Nibb-its. A little sweeter than I remember, maybe because when I was younger all I could taste was FIRE but, “Hawaiian Luau Barbeque Rings” is da bomb. Dat wit da pog ice cup winnahz.

  23. Hawaiian Luau, if you love Nibb-its, look out for Tim’s Cascade Chips (based in Washington state) Hawaiian Luau Barbecue Rings. They taste just like the classic Nibb-its! And they’re distributed all over the country, so you should be able to find them in your neighborhood grocery store.

  24. It is sad who the nibb-its has fallen.  I loved it with pog.   But for those who really miss the flavor from the good old days, check out the Pop Chips barbeque potato from costco.  fo real, this taste just like nibb-its back in the day when Checkers and Pogo ruled the tv.

  25. Joe, I got to try those barbeque Pop Chips at Costco Hawaii Kai yesterday, as they were giving out samples. I agree the BBQ seasoning tastes exactly like the Nibb-Its of yesteryear, yet the texture of the Pop Chip isn’t the same.

    For a chip that resembles both the texture and flavor of the classic Yick Lung Nibb-Its, I highly recommend you try the Hawaiian Luau Barbeque Rings made by Tim’s Cascade Snacks. Most supermarkets here on Oahu carry that product line, as does 7-Eleven.

    • The only place I have found them is at the Queens Physicians I Pharmacy, and I’ve heard
      the illusive chip can be found at Fischer HI. I’ve searched for a contact so that I could maybe
      pick some up in bulk, but I’ve had no luck on even that.
      Would love to get a number or e mail.

      • Donna,

        Of all places, a hospital PHARMACY carries high sodium SNACK CHIPS? Does it come with a coupon sticker on the package for 50% off high blood pressure pills? LOL!!!

        Don Quijote and 7-Eleven stores on Oahu carry Nibb-its. However, I would recommend you get Hawaiian Luau Barbecue Rings by Tim’s Cascade Snacks, out of Algone, Washington (state). Hawaiian Luau Barbecue Rings tastes EXACTLY like the classic Yick Lung Nibb-its you remember from back-in-the-day.

        The current Yick Lung Nibb-its flavor and texture is different than the classic.

  26. Pingback: Connections among good and bad brand names | Name Awards

  27. Love those Yick Lung shrimp Chips but wish they would post nutritional values on the package. My mother also love them but she is on a restricted sodium diet so I am afraid to give her too many.

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