Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, September 8, 1999

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
New products from the Poi Co.: English muffins, ice cream,
bagels and biscotti, all made out of poi. Prices range from
$2.75 for the muffins to $3.75 for the ice cream.

Poi people embark on
new adventures

Betty Shimabukuro


The people who brought us poi in bags marked simply "POI" are serving up poi for breakfast, dessert and at coffee-break-time.

New in stores is a line of baked goods made from poi -- bagels, English muffins and biscotti -- and poi ice cream.

Sounds a little, shall we say, eccentric, but somehow it all works.

The muffins have been in Times, Foodland, Sack N Save and Star markets, Longs Drug Stores, Shirokiya and Marukai for about a week. The bagels and ice cream will be in stores over the next few weeks and the biscotti is going to coffee shops.

A few hotel chefs have also added the products to their breakfast menus.

Owners of The Poi Co. wanted to expand, "but they knew the future of poi was not in the bag," says spokesman Esmund Chun. "They needed to diversify."

All this is good news to taro farmers and to lovers of poi right out of the bag.

"We've gone to our growers and asked them to harvest taro year-round for us," Chun says. "We've committed to buying what they harvest."

Year-round production means greater availability of poi in general -- which means the annual shortage of poi at graduation season should be a thing of the past, Chun says.

Most of the company's taro comes from the west side of Kauai. The Poi Co. turns it into poi at the rate of 1,000 pounds every six minutes. The value-added products are put out by the company's partners -- Hawaii Star Bakery for the muffins and biscotti, Tropilicious for the ice cream and Hawaiian Bagel.

The Poi Co. has other new products in mind, beginning with a lomi salmon cream cheese spread (what else to go on a poi bagel?).

Chun says the possibilities are nearly endless. "We really do want to extend the market for taro."

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