Tales from the Trails Blog

A Hawaiian Sweet Stop

September 21, 2016 - General -

Kukui's Shaved Ice is definitely one of kind in Shipshewana. Visiting this snack shop I wasn't sure what to expect because I love shaved ice and snow cones are my favorite. However, Cindy shared with me that the term is shave ice not shaved ice even though her name bears the latter. Her story is quite inspiring to the entrepreneur spirit in me.

Cindy and her husband went on a Hawaiian vacation and they visited the popular shave ice business called JoJo's Shave Ice. They enjoyed the sweet treat so much that she had a revelation she must bring the business concept back to Shipshewana. There wasn't a place in Northeast Indiana that had the concept, so taking a leap of faith she and her husband opened the business named Kukui's. The namesake is after the popular tree nut call the Kukui nut. The Hawaiian ritual of using the Kukui nut and making into a lei is very standard practice.

The History of shave ice is quite interesting. It actually originated in Yokohama, Japan in the 1869. By the 1920's it was a popular snack item sold in stores. Japanese migrant workers brought the shave ice (that's no d) concept to Hawaii via migrant workers. They would cool off after a long days work in the hot temperatures. Using their machetes, they would shave flakes off of large blocks of ice. Using different juices, they pour it on top of the shavings and sold the sweet treat on Sundays since it was the immigrants only day off. Shave ice went commercial when migrant workers left the plantations and decided to open a family-run grocery store.

So what's the difference between snow cones and shave ice? It is all in how the ice is molded, frozen, stored and subsequently shaved. In Hawaii they call in shave ice. Snow Cones are known for the crunchy, hard, ice pellets with the syrup drippings that fall to the bottom. Authentic Hawaiian Shave is fine, super fluffy, and soft as snow. How to they get it so fluffy? The type of ice is a solid block, then it is spun across a razor sharp blade resulting in sweet snow appearance.

Toppings are essential to this cold delicious treat. Kukui's has many different syrup flavor offerings to include banana, lychee, passion fruit, coffee, coconut and so many more. On the bottom of the treat, order Azuki nuts or Macadamia nuts. Top it off with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, or sweet cream. So many flavor combinations and possibilities. Kukui's has recipes to make your favorite flavor combinations such as the Purplesauras REX, a mixture of grape and pink bubblegum flavors. Make sure to study the menu before ordering because the menu has 25 single flavors and 32 or more flavor combinations.

Kukui's has more than just shave ice, they sell traditional Hawaiian pulled pork sandwiches and other food items bearing either a Hawaiian name or recipe. KuKui's is on Indiana Foodways Alliance's Sweet Temptations, BBQ, and Savor the Flavor Trails. Kukui's is located at 125 1/2 Harrison St. (Behind Alta's Place) Shipshewana, Indiana 46565 Phone: 260-768-4383 www.kukuis.com

By Lindsey Skeen

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