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Dole equals pineapple in Hawaii

by Ina Hinklemann, staff writer


While many students often grab a bag of potato chips as a snack, Angie Lim, a travel industry major at HPU, enjoys a piece of freshly cut piece of pineapple instead. “There is no better snack that tastes sweet, has lots of vitamin C, but no fat,” Lim said.


One of the things Hawai‘i is famous for is its pineapple production. Pineapple is a delicious fruit and is known worldwide for its sweet taste. The fruit was first called “anana,” a Caribbean word for “excellent fruit.” Hawaiians called it “halakahiki,” which means “foreign fruit.”

The pineapple, believed to have its origins in Paraguay or Brazil, was loaded on trade ships and taken to distant places like China, India, Australia, and Mexico in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is believed that the pineapple first arrived on the Big Island of Hawai‘i in 1827.

As a result of a growing demand for labor on the various Hawaiian plantations, such as sugar cane and pineapple, the import of foreign workers started in the 1850s. These workers came from China, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Germany, Portugal, Norway, Spain, Scotland, Puerto Rico, and Russia.

The founder of Hawai‘i’s pineapple industry was Captain John Kidwell, who tested a variety of pineapples and finally selected the Smooth Cayenne in the 1880s.

James Dole, commonly known as the “Pineapple King,” arrived in Hawai‘i in 1899. He started his first plantation in Wahiawa a year later and built a pineapple cannery the following year.

In 1922, Dole bought the island of Lana‘i, where he established the largest pineapple plantation in the world, growing 75 percent, in its peak years, of the world supply.

Dole passed away in 1958. Today, his Hawaiian pineapple company is still known worldwide as the Dole Food Company.

For immigrant workers, life on the plantation was hard. The work day usually started at 6 in the morning and ended at 4:30 in the afternoon. While in the fields, the workers had to wear heavy protective clothing because of the sharp pineapple leaves. Even though the work was physically demanding, the wages were less than $20 a month. However, housing near the fields was free.

Have you ever asked yourself how pineapples are planted and how long it takes for them to ripen? According to the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa, pineapples in Hawai‘i are grown year round. Each field has to be prepared beforethe fruit can be planted. Preparation includes fumigating the soil and placing black plastic mulch in the ground. The mulch helps to keep in the moisture, confines the fumigant, controls weeds and pests, and stores heat for a better root growth, according to Dole.

Even today, every pineapple is planted by hand. This is done by digging a hole through the plastic mulch and placing the crown of the fruit, the green leaves, into it. A skilled planter can plant about 10,000 fruits a day.

A perforated tube placed between the pineapple rows irrigates the plants, and a mixture of liquid nitrogen and iron sprayed on the plant fertilizes them. It takes 18-20 months for a plant to produce the first pineapple and about 13-15 months for the second fruit. After the second pineapple is harvested, the field is knocked down and a new cycle begins.

A ripe pineapple is one that has green leaves and a firm body. A large pineapple doesn’t mean that it is riper or better tasting. Also, the color of the outer shell doesn’t indicate the state of ripeness, for even a pineapple that is green outside can be ripe inside.

A pineapple won’t become sweeter or riper after being picked. Therefore, it is best to eat a pineapple as soon as possible after its purchase. If you plan to store it for a few days, it is best to keep it in the refrigerator to preserve its freshness.

Farmers on the North Shore of O‘ahu were previously concentrated on growing pineapple and sugar cane. Today, a variety of fruits, flowers, and crops are grown for consumers in Hawai‘i, the U.S. mainland, and abroad. According to the Pineapple Facts Information Page on, “Hawaiian plantations produce almost a third of the world’s crop and supply 60 percent of canned pineapple products.”

Hawai‘i’s agricultural industry plays an important part of the state’s economy, for it provides over 40,000 jobs and generates almost $3 billion annually.

If you are interested in learning more about the pineapple and its history in Hawai‘i, you can spend a fun day at the Dole Plantation, located on Kamehameha Highway near Wahiawa. There are a variety of attractions for visitors, such as the Pineapple Express, the Plantation Garden Tour, and the Pineapple Garden Maze.

The Pineapple Express is a two-mile, 20-minute, fully narrated train ride through the pineapple fields. “It was fun to ride on that cute little train, hear the history of the pineapple, and enjoy the beautiful scenery,” Lim said.

The Garden Tour is educational as well. In the different gardens, visitors learn about a variety of crops and also about the plantation villages with their contract laborers who came from all over the world.

The Pineapple Garden Maze, created in 1997, was officially recognized in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest maze. It covers an area of more than two acres and has a path length of 1.7 miles. The maze is made of 11,400 colorful Hawaiian plants.

Visiting the Dole Plantation is free; however, there is a fee for the three attractions described above. For information on the prices, visit the Web site


Fun Facts

· Pineapple is fat and cholesterol free and low in sodium.

· Pineapple is high in vitamin C.

· The color of the soil in which pineapple is grown is caused by decomposed volcanic ash resulting in oxidized iron in the soil.

· Fresh pineapple contains bromelain. This protelytic enzyme breaks down protein in a manner similar to what happens in digestion. Because of this reaction, dairy products shouldn’t be mixed with fresh pineapple until just before serving. However, fresh pineapple in meat marinade adds great flavor and tenderizes the meat.


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