When your friends and relatives come back from Hawaii with an awesome tan and carrying a jar of macadamia nuts (or if you’re lucky, chocolate covered macadamia nuts), you know they were having such a fabulous time in the Aloha state they forgot to get you a present until they were waiting in the airport terminal on their way home. As you turn green with envy thinking of the sun-soaked beaches and blue ocean water and irrationally hate the little jar of delicious nuts in your hand, you may wonder why all macadamia nuts seem to come from Hawaii (or you may just try to find a cheap flight to the islands instead…).
Considering Hawaii is the macadamia nut capital of the world, producing 90% of the world’s supply, it is hard to imagine that the macadamia nut is not actually native to Hawaii. In fact, the Australia native nut did not come to Hawaii until 1882 and was not produced in any sort of quantity until the Castle & Cooke, owners of Dole Pineapple, heavily invested in the nut’s production in the 1950s. Marketing the nuts under the Mauna Loa brand name (name of the active volcano on the Big Island), Hawaiian macadamia nuts have continued to grow in popularity. Now you can’t enter a Hawaiian convenience store or walk through the airport without seeing the tasty little nuts everywhere you go. And, with the cost in Hawaii half as much as on the mainland, you can’t be too mad the next time your friends bring you back a jar of macadamias from their Hawaiian vacation.
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- Macadamia nuts are named from Scottish-born physician and chemist John Macadam who promoted the cultivation of the nuts in Australia and New Zealand
- The macadamia nut shell is actually the hardest to crack of all nuts. In takes 300 lbs. per square inch to break this little shell.
- Virtually all of Hawaii’s macadamia nuts are grown on the Big Island near Kona, since the nuts grow best in climates where coffee flourishes
- Macadamia nuts are high in “good” monounsaturated fatty acids that help reduce cholesterol levels. A recent University of Hawaii study found that the nuts are in fact ok to indulge and make part of a healthy diet
- Macadamia nuts are not picked from the tree, but are harvested after they fully ripen and fall on their own.
- William Purvis, a sugarcane grower, planted the first macadamia tree in Hawaii as a decorative tree
- The Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association has launched a campaign for “100% Hawaii-grown Macadamia Nuts”
- Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs
- Ernest Van Tassell was the first man to plant macadamia nut orchards in Hawaii in 1922 and organized the Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Company
- Tourists can tour the Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory in Hilo