Crack Seed Express

Kaimuki Crack Seed Store: Haw Flakes and dried orange peel liquoriced

A name like crack seed store conjures up a lot of shady images, least of which (for a non-local) are Hawaiian bodegas chock full of sweet, salty, and umami-flavored snacks. The Kaimuki Crack Seed store has become my go-to locale on Oahu and a quick web search proves I’m not alone on that one. It’s an old-school teeny spot that’s packed to the brim, has an awesome snack selection, and is run by a quirky couple who chill there round the clock. (Love S’s quote on Yelp sums it all up, “Mr. and Mrs. Young are an institution in Kaimuki town, they’re my idols, I wanted to own my own crack seed store when I grew up, still do.”) My favorite feature is the fuschia bags emblazoned with the following, “explosive flavored preserved fruit of ancient China.”

I haven’t yet eaten exploding snacks nor have I exploded from my incessant snacking, but I have found an assortment of tasty treats. As is the norm with crack seeds, there’s apothecary jars with countless variations of dried fish, dried fruit (particularly featuring dried, salted plum aka li hing), and the like. I try to order something different each time and have made my way through the majority of the treats. From candies I’ve always enjoyed (like HiChew) to ones I forgot about (like Marukawa gum), there’s all sorts of finds. But the fun is coming across stuff I’ve never seen before, like footballs and Haw flakes.

The only thing keeping me from eating this stuff on a daily basis? The fact there’s periodic bans on it by the FDA for illegal dyes or other foreign inedible elements — I’ll just tell myself I’m immune to all those extras.