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Leonard’s Bakery could arguably qualify as the malasada capitol of the islands for its wonderfully delicious, delightfully fluffy, sugar-coated puff of pure doughy goodness. They sell them daily by the dozens, with a long line beginning to form outside the store before the sun’s even up. And you know they’re finally open when the big bright arrow sign outside lights up the parking lot, pointing toward the families sitting on the wooden bench or sidewalk, lips and fingertips covered in sugar.
Just minutes from Waikiki, Leonard’s is a must if you’re visiting Hawaii.
Today, of all days, would be ideal for you to visit this Honolulu landmark. It’s the official Malasada Day, also known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Regardless of what it’s called, people in Hawaii are sure to be celebrating with a fresh box of malasadas right about now. This Portuguese tradition dates back to the 1800s, when sugar plantations thrived in the islands. The Catholic Portuguese living there would use up all their butter and sugar prior to Lent by making batches of malasadas.
Leonard’s Bakery earned its malasada reputation after one Fat Tuesday some 55 years ago, when owner Leonard DoRego made his first batch the way his Portuguese parents taught him. Today, his son, Leonard, Jr., continues the family tradition with new creations like malasada beanie babies and merchandise, as well as the Malasadamobiles, the traveling red and white wagons parked in the Waikele Shopping Center and Windward Mall parking lots. Even Japan can get their Leonard’s malasada fix with the business’ only international store sitting smack dab in Yokohama.
1-2-3, “Malasada!” A family visiting from Japan gets their Leonard’s Bakery fix.
And before all this was even possible, let’s not forget about what Leonard’s original intent was: a bakery. Today they also sell coffee, pastries, doughnuts, cookies, cakes, pies, breads, wraps and soft-serve ice cream.
In addition to malasadas, Leonard’s is known for their pao doce bread and delectable pies.
Leonard, Jr. has even jazzed up the original malasada recipe. In addition to the plain sugar ones, they’ve got cinnamon-sugar, multi-colored-sugar for holidays and ones stuffed with a variety of fillings (chocolate, haupia and a flavor of the month). I prefer the original flavor, without all the bells and whistles. It just tastes fresher, and it’s what I remember eating as a kid. My dad would always stop to buy a box on our way home from surfing. It was meant to take home, but we all knew that wasn’t going to happen. We’d be nose-deep into the sugary treat before even leaving the parking lot!
So coat your nose with some sugary goodness next time you’re in Hawaii and fit right in!
LEONARD’S BAKERY • 933 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu, HI 96816 • Open Sun-Thurs 530am-9pm, Fri & Sat 530am-10pm • 808-737-5591 • Check www.leonardshawaii.com for their other locations • Available parking; Near bus route
Photo Credit: Noa Myers