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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.


Nibb-its?

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.

38 thoughts on “Classic Hawaii Snack Chips

  • August 6, 2009 at 6:39 pm
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    I would love to have a catalog of your products,i have enjoyed them as i was growing up.Now im in the mainland,need some taste of home. Much mahalo.

    Reply
  • September 7, 2009 at 7:13 am
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    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.

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  • October 8, 2009 at 9:46 am
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    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.

    Reply
  • April 4, 2010 at 11:18 am
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    Agree with the above post on a catalog. Love Nibb-its, could be first on my list.

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  • April 4, 2010 at 11:31 am
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    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.

    Reply
  • July 23, 2010 at 3:45 pm
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    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.

    Reply
  • July 25, 2010 at 6:41 am
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    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.

    Reply
    • July 15, 2014 at 4:51 pm
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      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.

      Reply
      • July 16, 2014 at 6:00 am
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        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.

        Reply
  • June 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm
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    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.

    Reply
  • July 18, 2014 at 4:01 pm
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    Have been finding Yick Lung’s Nibb-its at the Kaheka St. Don Quijote. Not too many bags on the shelf though.

    Reply

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