Hawaii is the macadamia nut capital of the world, growing 90% of the world's macadamia nuts. One of the first things a traveler to Hawaii notices on their arrival at the airport or first visit to any convenience store is the huge displays of macadamia nut products, such as gift packs of dry roasted nuts, chocolate covered nuts and macadamia nut treats.
The macadamia nut tree originated in Australia. The macadamia was classified and named jointly by Baron Sir Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich von Mueller, Director for the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne and Walter Hill, first superintendent of the Botanic Gardens in Brisbane. The tree was named in honor of Mueller's friend, Dr. John Macadam, a noted lecturer in practical and theoretical chemistry at the University of Melbourne, and a member of Parliament.
The tree was first planted in Hawaii near in Kapulena on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1882. William H. Purvis, a sugar plantation manager on the Big Island, visited Australia and was impressed by the beauty of the tree. He brought the seeds back to Hawaii where he planted them at Kapulena. For the next 40 years, the trees were raised primarily as ornamental trees and not for their fruit.
In 1921 a Massachusetts man named Ernest Shelton Van Tassell established the first macadamia plantation near Honolulu. This early attempt, however, met with failure, since seedlings from the same tree would often produce nuts of differing yield and quality. The University of Hawaii entered the picture and embarked upon over 20 years of research to improve the tree's crop.
It wasn't until the 1950s, when larger corporations entered the picture, that production of macadamia nuts for commercial sale became substantial. The first major investor was Castle & Cooke, owners of the Dole Pineapple Co. Soon after, the C. Brewer and Company Ltd., began their investment in macadamia nuts.
Eventually C. Brewer bought Castle & Cooke's macadamia operations and began marketing its nuts under the Mauna Loa brand in 1976. Since then, Mauna Loa's macadamia nuts have continued to grow in popularity.
More Interesting Facts:
· Macadamia nuts are not picked from the tree but are fully ripened when they fall and are then harvested.
· Hawaii’s 700 farms and 8 processing plants employ 4,000 workers.
· The macadamia tree is related to the protea family.
· Total Hawaii macadamia nut farm value in 1999 was $37.4 million.
· Tough nut to crack: it takes 300 lbs. per square inch to break the macadamia nut shell, hardest of all nut shells.
· U.S. is the largest consumer (51%) with Japan following at 15%.
· Macadamia nuts are high in monounsaturated fatty acid (“good” fat) and have been demonstrated to help reduce overall cholesterol levels.
· The Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association’s launching its “100% Hawaii-grown Macadamia Nuts” campaign: “The Hawaiian Macadamia, Grown with Aloha”.
· Virtually all of Hawaii’s macadamia nuts come from the Big Island of Hawaii.
· Nuts are high in minerals and protein and are part of a healthy diet.
· Hawaii growers are the world leaders in cultivation techniques.