New mac nuts nudge onto store shelves
Familiar tins, boxes and tetra-packs of macadamia nuts on certain isle store shelves have new neighbors.
Pacific Traders is a new brand, established by the kamaaina Ed & Don's of Hawaii Inc. to market a savory line of macadamia nuts. It adds to a crowded field of competitors.
People associate Ed & Dons with sweets and ice cream parlors, so the company wanted to differentiate its new line, said President Gregory Au.
Two products now available are Spicy Hot, which the company says are "rated R for adults" because of the seasonings' heat.
It also could have to do with the snacks sparking a thirst for, say, a grown-up beverage. Au recommends them for pau-hana enjoyment with "a libation."
The other is 'Alaea Salt, flavored with the earthen-tinged Hawaiian salt and other seasonings and rated "G" as it is not spicy.
The nuts are offered in 10-ounce cans and in flat boxes containing four two-ounce pouches.
Joining them around August will be two more flavors, Smoking Hot and Hot Rocks.
ERIKA ENGLE / EENGLE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Four new savory macadamia nut flavors by Pacific Traders include, clockwise from top, 'Alaea Salt, Spicy Hot, Smoking Hot and Hot Rocks. The nuts in the foreground will hit the market in August while the other two are available now.
As one might surmise, the Smoking Hot nuts have smoky flavoring added to the spicy seasoning.
Hot Rocks are another matter.
Their taste and mouthfeel are like other delicious, chocolate-enrobed, cocoa-powder-dusted macadamia nuts -- at first.
Then the heat from the spicy undercoating kicks in, dancing on the taste buds as if wearing flaming tap shoes.
They will no doubt be used to trick many an unsuspecting, spice-avoiding person.
The spiciness is not blow-your-head-off hot. Au hasn't done testing to gauge the nuts' Scoville rating, which measures the heat in chili peppers and food products, but equates the level of heat with Tabasco.
Retailers were at first skeptical about Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts' Maui Onion Garlic flavored nuts, Au said.
Now it leads a major category and has spawned several imitators. He should know. A former Mauna Loa vice president, he developed the flavor.
Inspiration for the savory mac nuts came from other flavored snack foods, primarily chips, as well as international flavor profiles, including Thai, Caribbean and Pacific Rim, Au said. One challenge developing anything garlic flavored is that garlic "attracts water, and that's not good with nuts."
He used knowledge from his days as executive chef for seasoning maker Lawry's, as well as other food and beverage gigs including stints at the Crouching Lion Inn, Bobby McGee's and the Honolulu Club.
The regular price for the cans is about $7.99 at Longs and Don Quijote. They are also available at the Navy, Army and Air Force exchanges and Wal-Mart "just got samples," he said. The nuts soon will be available at Ed & Don's online shop and from additional retailers, he said.
Ed & Don's also has an outlet store at its factory at 4462 Malaai St.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org