Saturday, September 24, 2011

Father of Canned Aloha

James Drummond Dole had a vision, and that vision ended up supplying pineapples to the world. Born just outside Boston, Dole graduated from Harvard University with degrees in agriculture and business and moved to Hawaii at 22.

James Dole

Arriving in Honolulu in November, 1899, Dole quickly set about purchasing a parcel a 60-acre plot of land in Wahiawa (near the North Shore of Oahu). Dole experimented with different crops on his farm. His first thought was coffee, yet after some brief experimentation he settled on planting pineapple.

His new venture became the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (Hapco), and despite the Honolulu Advertiser labeling it a "foolhardy venture," in a short time the company grew wildly successful. Of course, when your cousin is Sanford Dole, the acting President of the Republic of Hawaii (and the man who helped orchestrate the overthrow of the monarchy), the odds of achieving success are vastly improved.

In spite of his family connection, James Dole was an innovative businessman. After just seven years, Hapco built one of the largest canneries in the world next to Honolulu Harbor. Dole knew that canning pineapple was the only way to make exporting the fruit profitable. Speeding up the canning process was imperative (since the fruit was hand-peeled and cut), so in 1911 he hired Henry Ginaca to invent a machine that could core and peel 35 pineapples per minute!

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