The red octagonal doorway has become a landmark at Ala Moana Center.
And on May 28, the iconic door of the Crack Seed Center will close for good after 52 years.
One of the shopping center’s original tenants, the Crack Seed Center will move its entire business online. Meaning, you can still get its popular rock salt plum, li hing mango, olive cake and even bulldog seeds — seriously! — through its website.
Just not the slushies and bubble drinks.
“I wish we could figure out a way to ship drinks,” said owner Ted Li, laughing.
The Crack Seed Center is yet another local business shutting its doors — and one of the last remaining shops exclusively selling preserved fruits and other crack seeds, an iconic Hawaii snack.
What’s changed in our culture that has made us less interested in crack seed, something that used to be a staple in the local snack food scene? Going to the crack seed store was the Hawaii equivalent of going to the neighborhood candy shop. And now that era seems to be over.
It’s sad to think of these shops closing. I grew up eating crack seed — my dad always says he’s never met a crack seed he didn’t like — and spent afternoons gnawing on li hing mui, baby seeds, dry footballs, lemon peels and — my favorite — olive cakes.
I don’t know too many kids these days — or even folks my own age — who love crack seed as much as I do. And I fear this lack of interest will result in these shops disappearing.
Interestingly enough, the Crack Seed Center is moving online, where already 30 percent of its revenue is generated. Instead of spending $250,000 to renovate the 760-square-foot space on the street level of Ala Moana Center — and spending the next 10 years working 363 days a year — the Li family is making the brave decision to move online, get rid of overhead costs and run the business on their terms.
“This store has done a lot of good for me,” said Li, who put his two sons through college. “But everything has its time.”
Crack Seed Center
Visit the Crack Seed Center until May 28 and get 20 percent off your purchase. It will be your last chance to get slushies and bubble drinks.
Well…the world’s supposd to end Saturday, and then again sometime in 2012.But if that doesnt happen,and the economy rebounds and booms again,hopefully crack seeds stores will flourish once again.Till then,hey…..mail order is the smart way to go.People dont know what they are missing if they havent had yummy crack seeds.This delicacy must continue or they really wont know! There should be a study done,and if it turns out that, say,-crackseeds add years to one’s life or something.Like that new report about coffee and prostate cancer. Then whew…watch out! There’ll be a crackseed shop on every corner!How cool would that be! One can only hope…..
Crack seed = healthy snack? Possibly. I mean, what could be wrong with them?
Awwww… that is so sad. I remember going down to Ala Moana on The Bus from UH and walking around the mall. I would pass the store all the time and go in there once in awhile. The doorway and all the goodies in the glass jars would draw me in. I’m glad to hear they will still be around but nothing like going in there and perusing the wonderful seeds!
Thats true — it’s nothing like actually going into the store and browsing. Shopping online just isn’t the same. But I am glad the store will still be around, albeit virtual.
I am salivating right now. That “Mango Pickle” looks so ono. 😀
The pickle mango WAS good! But apparently, the woman who makes them doesn’t always have mangoes, so it’s not a regularly stocked item. Gotta get ’em while they’re there!
Hello Cat, I better stop by for the last time. My kids don’t even know what crack seeds are.
WHAT? Your kids don’t eat crack seed?!?
My favorite thing about going to crack seed stores is the big glass jars that have the most amazing smells when opened. Unfortunately you’re not going to get that same experience if you just buy them bagged at Longs or Wholesale Express.
Yep, true. And it’s also true that these stores — Walmart, Wholesale, Longs — are taking away business from these specialty snack shops. Too bad, though. You’re totally right about the big glass jars and the smells that linger from them.
Auwe, yet another local biz closing up shop. With each passing year, Ala Moana has become less and less local, and more and more generic.
I read about the store’s upcoming mall closure sometime ago, and was glad to hear that they’d still be doing business online. The one funny thing that comes to mind for me, is the sight of those glass jars. Isn’t that just the ultimate sign you’ve walked into someplace that sells crack seed? 😀
I think you may be able to buy those jars from the owner. Try ask next time you’re there. Then you can store your crack seed at your house!
that’s really too bad. I also have fond memories of crack seed stores. Ala Moana was kind of exotic because we didn’t go to the mall that often. usually, we hung out at Kay’s in Manoa.
those glass jars still invoke feelings of awe and wonderment. there were so many different varieties and I always told myself I’d try something different “next time”, but I always went to my standbys: rock salt plum and seedless plum.
I should look into how many crack seed shops are still around. I bet there were more when my parents were growing up.
forgot my favorite one (and best ice shave on oahu, imo)…the long departed Goodie Corner in Temple Valley Shopping Center.
the only ones I can think of that are still around are seeds ‘n things in windward mall, crack seed store in kaimuki, rainbow crack seed in windward city shopping center and kay’s in manoa marketplace. I’m sure there’s more but those are the areas i frequent when i’m at home
I think that they contribute to high blood pressure and diabetes. Not to mention all the preservatives and chemicals. The prices are so astronomically high in those glass jars are what ultimately stopped me from buying them. Same thing at Long’s Drugs (oops…CVS) but without the flies, ants and roaches floating around for one fifth the cost. Sheez Hawaii is not the same as before and this just is another nail in the coffin. If you so nostalgic for the old days watch ch 11 at 7pm and see all the old places alive and well on the original Hawaii 5-O.
don’t hate, innoculate
Gonna miss those big glass jars.
Sad to see it go, but surprised actually that they stayed around that long; with all the new shops opening up at Ala Moana they’re something of a dinosaur.
Hopefully Kaimuki Crack Seed will still remain a little while more. And Isn’t there C-Mui Center down on Bethel near Pauahi? Or has that gone away too?
It’s sad to see another one go. I have small-kid time memories of the Crack Seed Center, but with today’s health concerns and preference for fresh foods, I don’t eat that stuff much anymore. I know it’s uptight, but I avoid stuff imported from China and with ingredients I can’t pronounce — and, sadly, that ingredient label on the glass jar isn’t very inviting.
Good to know we can still find the Li’s online, though. They’re such nice people!
Where do people take their kids now for snacks? Any local places that serve up fun, somewhat healthy stuff?
I too grew up with this place. I remember buying dried cuttlefish and octopus. Mom wouldn’t let me eat them in the car because it would smell. Sigh. I wish the Li’s well.