These have been on Hawaii store shelves for years now, yet have you ever wondered why they’re titled “Maui Style”? I asked myself this question a few times in the past while browsing through the chips aisle.
After a quick search online, I came across an archived Star Bulletin article covering the closure of Frito-Lay’s production facility in the Halawa industrial district back in 2006. It was here where the Maui Style brand got its start, with this shrimp chips, regular and onion-flavored potato chips and taro chips all part of that line.
Wait a minute, though. OK, it was originally a product at least made in HAWAII, but specifically not MAUI, so why “Maui Style“? Shouldn’t it have been named “Halawa Style“? Or does that not sound so glamorous? OK, how about “Aiea Style“. Still not catchy enough? K’ then, how about “Oahu Style”. What’s wrong with that?! lol
But nooooooooo, their marketing execs probably thought “Maui Style” had a much better ring to it. One of being more exotic and ritzy. Right? Frito-Lay, being the goliath they are, went as far as registering the name Maui Style®. So now probably any new chip they introduce that even remotely has something to do with a tropical island will be badged under that brand.
Actually, what I think it could be, is that Frito-Lay intended to duplicate the kettle style Kitch ‘N Cook’d Potato Chips made by Maui Potato Chip Factory (not to be confused with the Kitch ‘N Cook’d Potato Chips from Kona), hence they came up with the trade name “Maui Style”. If you’ve ever tried Frito-Lay’s Maui Style® Potato Chips, it does have a similar texture and saltiness to it like the original Maui brand. Since Frito-Lay noticed shrimp and taro chips were popular in the islands, they simply added it to their Maui Style® potato chip line-up.
Remember the Maui Kitch ‘N Cook’d Potato Chips? They’re kinda’ really greasy and salty, thick and stiff kettle-style chips. They come packaged in a clear bag with red and yellow Kitch ‘N Cook’d label. Well those are in fact, MADE IN MAUI, so that is indeed MAUI STYLE! Kahului to be exact.
In case you’re wondering, yes, Maui Potato Chip Factory is still business. I just got off the phone with Mark Kobayashi, one of the three family members who own and operate the Maui-based business. He said currently you can only get them in select stores on Maui, or directly from their facility in Kahului (where it’s the cheapest at $4/bag). Star Market used to be the primary retailer on Oahu where you could get Maui’s Kitch ‘n Cook’d potato chips, but they’re working out distribution/buying issues with them, so as it stands, you gotta’ go Maui for it.
He went on to further explain some background behind the Kitch ‘N Cook’d brand name. As it turns out, ” Kitch ‘N Cook’d was a turn-key potato chip production franchise based on the mainland where independent owners around the nation could purchase their potato chip production equipment under the guideline that the product must include that red and yellow “Kitch ‘N Cook’d” logo on the packaging. Therefore right here in Hawaii we have two independent companies – one on Maui and one in Kona – that are branded under that name.
The Maui Potato Chip Company’s Kitch ‘N Cook’d Potato Chips are sold in 1 oz. and 4.5 packages, while the Kona Kitch ‘N Cook’d chips now come in wide variety of flavors and packaging options.
Anyhow, that should help solve any confusion.
Here’s how these Frito-Lay brand Maui Style® Shrimp Chips look out of the bag…
I must say, these Maui Style Shrimp Chips are very fresh-tasting and crispy, with a subtle, yet detectable shrimp flavor. Best of all, they’re not too salty like so many other chips that are hitting the shelves nowadays. What’s the deal with that? They trying to give us all high blood pressure or what? These shrimp chips are salted just enough to add flavor, without making your limbs swell up.
Speaking of swelling up, that’s exactly what happens when these are deep-fried in oil from their “blank” state. I bought a box of the shrimp chip blanks once a long time ago from Tropic Fish & Vegetable Market. The “blanks” are rather tiny – about the size of a thumb – but within seconds in the hot oil they puff-up exponentially as the air in the shrimp-flavored tapioca starch dough expands, becoming full-sized shrimp chips like you see here. The ones I bought were the colored ones like the Yick Lung brand..
Out of the bag…
Yick Lung Shrimp Chips
I’m not sure which retailers still carry this, but Yick Lung still makes them, along with Nibb-its and Taco Tubes. Foodland used to carry their products, but not anymore. I’ll check Don Quijote next time I go. You can probably find the shrimp chip “blanks” in Chinatown. IIRC, the “blanks” was a product of Thailand.
Actually shrimp chips are a very common snack in most asian countries. In Indonesia, they’re called “Krupuk”. Learn more about Shrimp Chips in this interesting Wikipedia article.
Nutrition-wise, for each 1 oz. serving, Maui Style® Shrimp Chips provides 150 calories, with 70 of that from fat. There’s 8 grams total fat, with 1 gram saturated, 4.5 grams polyunsaturated and 2.5 grams monounsaturated, with 0 trans fat and 0 cholesterol. Each 1 oz. serving also provides 280 mg sodium (which I find surprising based on taste), 18 grams total carbs, less than 1 gram of fiber, 0 sugar and 0 protein. Neither does it have any essential vitamins or mineral. Boo.
The ingredients for Maui Style® Shrimp Chips are Corn and/or Cottonseed oil (listed first…ack!), Tapioca Starch, Corn Starch, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Yeast Extract, Artificial Flavor (boo!), Maltodextrin, Fructose, Soy Lecithin, and Mono- and Diglycerides. <—Yummy! Not. Oh, and it contains a soy ingredient (for any of you allergic to the stuff).
What I’m most curious to find out is if you can buy any of Frito-Lay’s Maui Style® chips in your neck of the woods on the mainland, or other country for that matter. I could try calling Frito-Lay myself to ask, but I don’t feel like waiting on hold for one hour on the phone.
There’s someone in San Francisco who was searching for them in the bay area to no avail. Folks suggested he try Dandy brand, but he insisted the Maui Style Shrimp Chips.
If you’re currently NOT in Hawaii, please let us know whether or not you can get these in your local grocery store. Mahalo.
What? Maui Style® Shrimp Chips
Who makes it? Frito-Lay, Inc. in Plano, Texas (formerly made in beautiful Halawa Valley)
Where did you buy it and how much? On sale at K-Mart for $2.50/4.5 oz. bag
Big Shaka to: Super fresh and crispy texture, with the perfect amount of shrimp flavor; not over or underpowering. It’s also not too salty; just right. Appetizing neutral off-white color. Reasonable price when on sale.
No Shaka to: “Maui Style” name, yet nothing remotely related to Maui about it. Oil listed as the FIRST ingredient (zoinks!). Closing down the Frito-Lay factory in Hawaii, causing many job losses.
The Tasty Island rating: 3 SPAM Musubi
• Frito-Lay to shutter isle manufacturing operations – Star Bulletin article
• Classic Hawaii Snack Chips – The Tasty Island