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.