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Foodstuffs

October 2006

 


Interview with Blane Maebo
and the One-Ton Chip

By Anne (Lau) Meis

 

After a 2003 fired destroyed Hilo 's Maebo Noodle Factory, the One-Ton Chip disappeared. The good news is that the popular chips are being manufactured again. Anne Meis returned home to Hilo for a visit at the end of summer and interviewed Blane Maebo, President and third-generation son of the company.

Who founded the Maebo Noodle Factory?

In 1950 Koto Maebo began experimenting and making her own noodles from scratch in her husband, Toshito's, tofu-making facilities. Koto converted their family garage to make saimin, chow fun and udon noodles. They also used the dough to make won ton pi which is the small Chinese dough squares used in making won ton.

Who first started making the chips? How was the name chosen?

Three years later Koto deep-fried some modified won ton pi dough. Aketo, the second son, created the name based on a play of words spelling it "one-Ton" and came up with the idea of a weight lifter carrying barbells over his head. The classic "One-Ton Chip" was born.

President Blane Maebo with wife Lehua, son Jarek and mother Rachael, in front of the new Maebo Noodle Factory being built in Hilo, Hawai`i.

Photo by Anne Meis

When did the fire destroy the factory?

September 30, 2003

How, when and why did you decide to start up the Noodle Factory again?

After getting over the shock of the fire that destroyed our factory in September 30, 2003 we started out by making saimin noodles in our garage that we had enclosed. The machine that we were using was very small and we spent long hours mixing and making the small amounts to supply to the restaurants. At first it was just my mom, my wife and myself that made the saimin. As more orders started to come in we hired one of our former employees. Several months went by and we made a decision to start making the One-Ton Chips again. It was with mixed feelings that we made this decision for several reasons. First of all, we only had a small machine and our small crew was already working long hours. Also, we were unsure about how people would react to seeing our chips on the shelf again after such a long time. Would we be accepted or forgotten?

Starting out with our home territory on the Big Island was our first step. Lisa at Hilo Candy distributors was really helpful in getting our chips back into the stores. From there we just had to wait and see. I am happy to say that the people of Hawaii haven't forgotten us. We heard good comments and had a lot of wishes of support. In Hawaii there is something called the ALOHA SPIRIT. As with everywhere in the world, people tend to band together in support when there is tragedy. We have seen this first-hand and are really thankful to everyone who supported us in our time of need.

Because of the loving support of the people of Hawaii we have been able to branch out to the other islands with our chips. Our one employee has now turned into twenty-two. We still use our small machine and small fryer and everything is packed by hand.

Our new factory is scheduled for completion at the end of this year and it is our hope to expand our market to the mainland by then.

How can people purchase the chips and read more about the company's family history?

You can find our address and toll free number on our web site www.one-ton.com.

~~Recipe -- Won Bok* Salad Dressing

1 bag Won Ton chips
1 bunch Won Bok (chopped)
Sauce

Mix sauce and all other ingredients together and serve.

Sauce (Mix all the ingredients together)

½ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
¼ rice vinegar
1 teaspoon hot mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
½ cup mayonnaise
2-3 pieces garlic (crushed)

*Won Bok is also called Chinese Cabbage

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