BY DON GRAYDON
The first thing-in addition to Maui Chips-the newcomer to Maui learns about is the magnificent Haleakala volcanic crater.
The second thing is the beautiful Hana area of East Maui.
The third thing is Maui Chips, those dark, heavy, brittle, gnarled chunks of fried potato that have become something of a Maui tradition.
Although this article may read like a commercial, thousands of Valley Isle residents would agree that our Chips-along with the Lahaina Whaling Spree, Mayor Elmer Cravalho, and the Iao Needle-represent one of Maui's unique contributions to the world.
There is a strange and wonderful story behind the creation of these unique potato chips. Or so I hear. Because the owners aren't talking. A visit last week to the little tin-roofed building on a Wailuku side street resulted in little more than a glimpse inside and a few noncommittal remarks from the manager.
Although friendly and considerate, the manager made it clear his company has no desire for any articles about his merchandise.
"We already can't handle the orders we get," he said.
And he's right. Just try and find a bag.
At Nagasako's Supermarket in Lahaina, employees will accept reservations for a bag of chips. When the chips are delivered, a bag will be set aside with your name on it.
The Maui manager is well aware of the problem. Which is why he'd just as soon have no publicity.
According to him, the only way he can meet the demand for the chips is to go into mechanized mass production. But the only way he can create the chips that people love is to continue with his slow, largely hand-done operation.
Sort of a Catch-22 of the potato chip game.
So Mauians are between a rock and a hard place. If they want their chips-super salty, very crunchy, dependable dark and misshapen-they will have to put up with waiting their turn.
And now into the breech steps the Frito Lay company of Hawaii. A manufacturer of the more standard form of anemic potato chip, Frito Lay has come up with something it calls Maui Style potato chips. Initial reports indicate that-The Real Thing-has nothing to fear.
Incidentally-the official name of the local potato chips is Kitch'n Cook'd. However, they are known universally as Maui Chips.
But whatever you do, don't ask for them in the neighborhood market.
They'll be out.
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Buck Quayle at the Maui Lahaina Sun bureau circa 1970
Reporter/Photographer Buck Quayle in 1971 in Maui with the Cartagenian in the background
Another Day At The Office Haleakala National Park