What the Heck?
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
John Heckathorn and Venus Marquez stuck golden tickets to bags commemorating Hawaiian Host's 80th anniversary at the chocolate manufacturer's Iwilei factory on April 30.
Going for the gold at Hawaiian Host
It was my chance to be Willy Wonka. In celebration of its 80th anniversary, Hawaiian Host was holding a contest. Find the golden ticket in the 11-ounce Snack-Easy bag of, say, Hawaiian Honey Glazed and Milk Chocolate Covered Macadamias, and off you go to Australia for a week.
I went to the chocolate factory in Iwilei, to put the golden ticket in myself.
It didn't turn out the way I envisioned. For instance, nobody warned me that everyone in the factory has to wear a hairnet -- though they are not called hairnets anymore. They are disposable bouffant caps.
Fortunately, I don't have a beard. There were also disposable beard nets.
No Oompa-Loompas. The factory was staffed mainly with women wearing bouffant caps and aprons. The air smelled so sweet it would cure hypoglycemia. The room was warm from roasting macadamia nuts, and you could stand on a catwalk gazing down on 24-foot-high stainless steel tanks, each holding 50,000 pounds of melted chocolate.
COURTESY OF STEVEN BERN
Betty Pang gazed up at lion dancers at the Green Door Caf opening party.
I wanted, literally, one golden ticket to hide in a single bag. "We can't do it that way," said marketing manager Rosalie Char. "You can't just put just anything in with food. It has to be special ink. Then there are issues of security, randomization, counterfeits."
So there are 60,000 golden tickets -- each one with an 11-digit computer code on the back. You go to a Web site, enter the code, find whether you're a finalist. Not quite as much fun as the movie, but welcome to the 21st century.
In the 21st century, you'd think golden tickets would be stuck on the Snack-Easy bags by a machine. Nope, a young woman named Venus Marquez stuck them on one at a time. I joined her.
For Venus, each golden label popped off the roll like magic. I could barely peel them off. Venus was fussy about where I affixed the label: no covering up the trademark, not too close to the edge, not too far either.
The romance of this task faded after a dozen labels. How many have you done today? I asked Venus. "Not many," she said and shrugged in the general direction of a pallet, which held 120 boxes, each box filled with a dozen bags.
The contest is Hawaii-based, with 80 finalists. One winner gets the Australia trip for two, plus a tour of the chocolate factory with four friends.
Hmm, I thought. In the movie, five children win tours of the chocolate factory -- four meet horrid ends. "Oh, no," said Char. "We'd never do something like that."
You Can Take the Girl Out of Chinatown, But ...
It was Chinatown come to Kahala: Last weekend, Betty Pang held a grand-opening party for the new Kahala location of her Green Door Caf.
Her former Chinatown neighbors showed up: Sandy Pohl of Pohl Galleries, Alan Carrell of INTO, Eric Chandler and Takeo of 2Couture -- the latter two having done the dcor of the new restaurant for their friend Pang.
There was a whole roast pig from Nam Fong on Maunakea Street. Spirited (and noisy) lion dancing from Kuo Min Tang Physical Culture Association. And, of course, tens of thousands of firecrackers.
That was too much Chinatown for the tiny neighborhood. HPD arrived; the residents of a nearby condo had complained about the noise.
"One way you can tell a great party," said Chandler, "is if the police arrive."
Dinner on the Croquet Lawn
Last weekend, writer Derek Paiva was on Lanai when the Lodge at Koele threw a five-course gourmet beer dinner, at elegant picnic tables on the croquet lawn.
Paiva sat across from Mark and Barbara Zigmond, who'd left their own little Lanai eatery, Pele's Other Garden, to sample the uptown fare. And he sat right next to Tom Roelens and his wife, Sara.
Roelens became general manager of both Four Seasons resorts on the island -- Koele and Manele -- just three weeks ago. He was still giddy about landing the plum job.
Roelens regaled the company with tales of his Belgian childhood, where minors can legally quaff beer, and his father occasionally brewed up a batch of the stuff behind the sofa. "We kids looked forward to coming home from school for lunch," said Roelens.
"Yes," said Zigmond, "but did you learn anything after lunch?"
Voyage to the South Pacific
Deena Dray of Diamond Head Theatre is just back from New York, where she and husband Peter Rosegg caught Loretta Ables Sayre in "South Pacific." Sayre looks so fierce as Bloody Mary, notes Dray, that "she's hard to reconcile with sweet, lovable Loretta."
Still, Dray said, the show is "beyond fabulous," especially since it was capped off by a backstage tour by Sayre.
Jealous? You too can experience both show and backstage access, if you take Diamond Head Theatre's annual New York Theatre Tour next November. "We've got the tickets booked for 'South Pacific' already," said Dray. But slots on the tour are limited.
Up In The Air
Last Wednesday, the CEOs of Aloha Airlines, Hawaiian Air and Island Air all addressed the Hawaii Publishers Association on the future of Island air travel in the wake of Aloha's shutdown.
Security was alerted at the Hilton, since HPA had received some seriously unhappy e-mails about Aloha CEO David Banmiller's appearance. And go! Airlines was pointedly not invited -- or perhaps fell asleep and overflew the hotel ballroom.
That day, Hawaiian Air had settled its suit with go!'s corporate parent, Mesa Airlines, for $52.5 million. One wag in the audience asked Hawaiian CEO Mark Dunkerley if Hawaiian had any plans to buy Mesa.
"We could certainly do that with $52.5 million," Dunkerley said. "But whether it would be money well spent?"