Oh Wow, Hawaii Cacao!

In Hawaii, that sinfully-sweet treat we get on Valentine’s will no longer be limited to a day but rather, an entire month! February marks “Hawaii-Grown Cacao Month” – meaning, things just got a whole lot more chocolatey in the islands.

Throughout the month, chocolatiers celebrate by sharing the taste of chocolate with others. Factory and farm tours, all-day tastings and chocolate-truffle-making classes sweeten up the islands during the monthlong chocolate roadshow. It ends with a sugary bang, too, as a festival of 30 local vendors features everything from chocolate liqueur to chocolate bacon.

Cacao pods have been finding a comfy spot in Hawaiian soil.

How did Hawaii score such a sweet deal, getting an entire month dedicated to all things chocolate? Because it’s the only state in the nation that can grow cacao. Thanks to the perfectly tropical climate, cacao has become an emerging industry for the state and at the perfect time, too. The worldwide chocolate biz has been experiencing a renaissance, where the smaller guys are finding a place next to big whips, like Hershey’s and Nestle.

Although still in its early stages, the cacao industry has a lot of opportunity to grow in Hawaii. Many experts are comparing it to the success of local coffee crops, which have captured the caffeine cravings of java enthusiasts around the globe. In fact, both coffee and cacao can only be grown commercially in Hawaii and nowhere else in the nation. That’s a huge step ahead for the local cacao growers, who are hoping to see their crops blossom into an equally profitable market.

From the pod to our tummies. Chocolate-covered mac nuts are synonymous with a Hawaiian vacation.

There are so many reasons to support cacao in Hawaii. Not only is it a revenue-producing crop, but it’s an environmentally-sustainable one as well. With so many uses, nothing ever goes to waste. It also enhances other locally-grown crops on the market. Couple it with apple bananas and pineapples, for instance, and you’ve got a win-win. Actually, make that a triple win. Consumers’ taste buds get to bask in the sweet glory of it all.

Plus, who doesn’t like chocolate!? It’s everywhere – in desserts, in holiday traditions and even in health and beauty products. Even those who don’t like chocolate may find it difficult to resist its sweet temptations. And with February in Hawaii dedicated to choc, it’s only a matter of time before they, too, convert to the dark side.

Posted by: Bruce Fisher