Hawaiian crack is of the seed variety. It's the original finger licking good snack and our entire state is obsessed with it. Just the mention of crack seed is enough to cause our mouths to water and our lips to pucker.
So just how did Hawaiians become obsessed with salty, dried fruit from Asia? Well, it all goes back to early immigrants who came to Hawaii to work in pineapple and sugar plantations. Workers from China, Japan, the Philippines, and other places brought their traditional foods with them. As time went on recipes changed and foods like manapua, sushi, and pansit became "local."
Li Hing Mui was brought to the islands by Chinese immigrants from Zhongshan, China. Li hing mui (旅行梅) means "traveling plum," which makes sense since dried, preserved fruits are great for taking on long trips, such as the one across the Pacific Ocean these Chinese immigrants took to get here.
Yick Lung was the first company to make Li Hing Mui a profitable commercial enterprise. They began importing preserved fruit, also known as See Mui, in bulk from China in the early 1900s. In order to appeal to local taste buds they would season the preserved plums with salt, licorice and other spices to create new types of seed snacks such as rock salt plum, sweet sour plum, and crack seed.
The term Crack Seed is now used throughout Hawaii to refer to all types of preserved fruit snacks. However, it is also a specific type of preserved plum with its actual pit or seed cracked open and marinated in a delicious sweet and sour sauce. You suck on the seed and eat the surrounding meat while licking your sticky red fingers. Mmmmmm.
Other popular types of crack seed include li hing flavored gummy bears, lemon peel, and seedless cherry. At first glance dried, shriveled fruit might not seem appealing, but please don't let that deter you from trying some of Hawaii's favorite snacks. We promise you they taste better than they look!