The History of Crack Seed in Hawaii

The History of Crack Seed in Hawaii


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!



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kenneth kam - January 18, 2018

old days in honolulu dad sold not only crack seed but red cuttlefish dried abalone pistachio and pine nuts and other stuff for eat miss the good old days the original kam.s crack seed with the castle on the label

Boyden - July 10, 2017

I love all the kind stuff. I miss rock salt plum but can’t find red ginger anywhere on the Internet, also would love some red cuttlefish which is hard to find. Can you help please?

Mike Avery - December 5, 2016

Lived in Honolulu for a long time and developed a taste for many unique Hawaiian treats. Li Hing Mui is one of my favorites.

TOm BRistol - October 24, 2016

Scholfield Barracks here ’54- ’58 ate them all the time. Loved them.

CLeo SIlva Moffatt - October 8, 2016

I grew up in Maile/Waianae in the 60’s. Everyone before or after school use to stop at Dang’s store and buy seeds by the weight. Ms. Dang sold the seeds in huge glass jugs. The Cracked and mango seeds were my favorites.

mika - September 28, 2016

@Mahana it’s not the feds, it’s due to California’s prop 65.
Over zealous lawyers have been bringing lawsuits against manufactures, wholesalers and retails that sell preserved plums into California.

Mahana - August 19, 2016

Hi, I live on the mainland, San Diego. There are several stores here that import from Hawaii all things Hawaiian, poi, saimin and crack seed. Well the other day, my daughter in law went to pick up our usual haul of things and was told that the Feds are no longer allowing crack seed to be imported? Has anyone heard of this At all Mahalo

Zelpher - July 27, 2016

I remember we head out to school we stop at the manaoua truck and pick up li hing mui and lemon peel.

Born & raise. Oahu

Stella - July 5, 2016

I miss the “real” cracked seed. Does anyone make this anymore?

Bud EVans - July 5, 2016

I remember growing up in Hilo enjoying these snacks

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