Sugar is Out – Tourism in In

Morris R. Pike, guest blogger

Saying goodbye to sugar from Hawaii

I loved those catchy C & H sugar jingles of the 70s and 80s:

“C & H . . . C & H . . .

Pure cane sugar. . .  from Hawaii . . .”

The scenes and music of paradise that accompanied them convinced me that C & H Sugar was synonymous with quality, stability and durability. C & H made it into an icon. In my mind, sugar was king in Hawaii.

But alas . . . on January 17, 2017, the good ship Moku Pahu (HC&S’ company ship), docked in Crockett California, and delivered the last sugar from the Maui’s Puunene sugar mill. No, make that the last sugar from Hawaii. “Pure cane sugar from Hawaii,” is no more.

Sugar, not indigenous to Hawaii, likely came in the 800s when the Polynesians settled the islands. If you had been fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have sailed with Captain Cook to the Sandwich Islands in 1778, you may have had to drink it. The good captain used beer made from sugar as a substitute for grog. He was hopeing to satiate the thirst of his crew and at the same time avoid the devastations of scurvy. By the 1800s, sugar would become the dominant agriculture product as well as the source for much of the romantic lore of Maui.

Tourists settling into Kahului Airport on cushions of air can still fly just above Puunene smoke stacks . . . for a while. But no more will they see vapor clouds rising into the trade winds. Those stacks that were so active for a hundred years and more are idle now. The 650 workers whose lives were tied to that indestructible icon will now change . . . some are promised plots of land on which grow local produce . . . others will join the hoards of workers who serve the hundreds of thousands of tourists who make Maui their preferred vacation destination.

‘I get it. Now tourism is King.”

Morris Pike’s latest children’s book “The Diary of Snap Wolf’s Journey to Find a Mate is available at

Photos by Morris R. Pike






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