Hawaii Mom Blog: Foodland Celebrates Landmark 70th Anniversary

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May 3, 2018

Foodland Celebrates Landmark 70th Anniversary

What were you doing in May 1948? (Well, that is if you were around.)

If you were near a radio, you were listening to the top hits of the day from The Andrews Sisters, Peggy Lee, Perry Como, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole. At the movies, you were lining up to catch Laurence Olivier in the title role of Hamlet. Tupperware parties were suddenly in vogue, as was the newly invented 33⅓ rpm long-playing album. Hawaii was readying to send athletes who’d return home with seven medals in swimming and weightlifting to London for the 14th Summer Olympics.

And on May 6, 1948, on the island of Oahu, in the then-burgeoning Honolulu burg of Kaimuki, Maurice J. “Sully” Sullivan opened his first Foodland supermarket at the crossroads of South King Street, Waialae Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard. It was Hawaii’s first modern supermarket with all the technical trimmings-of-the-day, stocked with nearly everything one could want from a grocery store in 1948. And it was the first of what would become a 33-store statewide chain of supermarkets forever serving residents and visitors with an inimitable message of food, family, friends and aloha.

Foodland Super Market, Ltd. is celebrating the occasion of its 70th anniversary throughout 2018. But from May 2 through July 10, celebrations will really kick into high gear with a groovy 70-day slate of events, promotions, reusable shopping bags, new food items at its flagship Foodland Farms in Ala Moana Center, as well as cool Mahalo Deals and anniversary Maikai My Rewards offers at Foodland stores statewide.

“We have great customers and great employees at Foodland and this anniversary gives us a wonderful reason to celebrate with them as we thank them for their support,” said Chairman and CEO Jenai S. Wall. “We feel very blessed to remain a local, family-owned business after all these years and are truly grateful to our Foodland friends and family who have made our success possible through their loyal support.”

On Saturday, May 5, Foodland will host its 70th Anniversary Poke Battle, featuring seven renowned Foodland and Hawaii Food & Wine Festival chefs battling it out at Foodland Farms Ala Moana from 12 p.m. to  2 p.m. The winner will win more than bragging rights…in fact, the winning chef will receive $5,000 for his charity of choice. Customers will determine the winner by sampling the battling chefs’ poke creations and voting for a favorite!  Craft beer and other samplings will be offered throughout the store. 

The day after the big battle, Sunday, May 6 – the company’s actual birthday – Foodland locations statewide will launch a 70th anniversary Scratch Card promotion, instantly making every customer who receives a card a winner. Also fresh for its 70th, Foodland will debut its latest collection of canvas and reusable food-themed shopping bags, and – drumroll, please – 70 special anniversary Mahalo Deals, spread seven a week across all 70 days of Foodland’s birthday celebration. There’s more, naturally, including those aforementioned new eats at Foodland Farms Ala Moana. But we’ll get to that menu later.

The story of Foodland actually begins six years before the company’s first market opened its doors with the arrival of founder Maurice J. Sullivan on Oahu in 1942 at the onset of World War II. “Sully,” as he was nicknamed by folks who knew him, had arrived in America from Ireland in 1927 at age 17, taking a job sacking potatoes at the A&P Tea Company in Pennsylvania. Having enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and assigned as a buyer for the officer’s mess hall, Sully had the good fortune of befriending the Lau family, proprietors of the Lanikai Store in Kailua, on his island-circling buying trips. Upon his discharge in 1946, he took a job at the Lau’s store as its manager, and shared his dream of opening a truly modern supermarket in Hawaii.

With the Lau family as his partners, Sully opened the first Foodland on May 6, 1948, anchoring a new Kaimuki shopping complex called Market City. The first Foodland drew customers in such large numbers upon opening that its front doors had to be locked, allowing a set number of customers through at a time. The inaugural Foodland’s success afforded Sully the opportunity to open a Foodland store each year for the next decade, followed by statewide expansion to Kauai in 1967, Maui in 1970 and the island of Hawaii in 1971. By 1980, Foodland was one of Hawaii’s most prominent locally-owned companies, enthusiastically supported by residents.

From day one, giving back to the community was part of Foodland’s DNA, inspired by Sully’s strong belief that “we have a responsibility to support the community that supports us.” In 1980, Foodland launched its first statewide community program, Shop for Better Education (now known as Shop for Higher Education), eventually helping more than 300 Hawaii public and private schools earn more than $6 million in computers, software, books and equipment. Other community-focused programs would follow, including Share a Holiday Feast, Bag Up Hunger, and Give Aloha, which has raised more than $29 million for Hawaii nonprofits since launching in 1999. In 1995, Foodland became the first Hawaii supermarket to introduce a frequent-customer program – its now much-loved Maikai Card – offering members instant savings, free groceries and HawaiianMiles on Hawaiian Airlines.

Having always envisioned Foodland as a family-run business, Sully offered his daughter Jenai Sullivan Wall the opportunity to take the company’s helm as its president in 1995 and CEO in 1998. Sully’s first Foodland store still exists at Market City Shopping Center in Kaimuki – albeit across the parking lot from its original location – but is now joined by 32 Foodland, Foodland Farms and Sack N Save stores throughout Hawaii, with more than 2,600 employees who make serving customers the most important thing they do. 
Which brings Foodland’s story to 2018, its 70th anniversary, Foodland to You online shopping and delivery service, that big Poke Battle mentioned above and other celebrations of this milestone year.

In April, Foodland launched Foodland to You, a time-saving, convenient option for customers that combines the ease of online shopping with the individualized attention of a personal shopper. Try your hand at next-day grocery delivery in the Honolulu area or same-day curbside pickup at Foodland Farms Ala Moana. Suddenly, grocery shopping just got faster and easier, and Foodland To You offers free delivery with a minimum $50 purchase for first-time users of the service.

What’s coming up?

Everyone and anyone who enjoys great poke is invited to head to Foodland Farms Ala Moana on Saturday, May 5, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., for Foodland’s (first ever) 70th anniversary Poke Battle – a seven-chef throwdown in partnership with the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival to determine which chef’s original poke creation most pleases the palates of customers. The seven competing chefs – Nico Chaize (Nico’s Pier 38), Keoni Chang (Foodland Super Market, Ltd.), Colin Hazama (The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort), Ed Kenney (Mud Hen Water), Brian Nagai (Foodland Farms Ala Moana), Chris Oh (Chingu) and Daniel Young (Young’s Fishmarket) – will each be tasked with creating a new poke for the occasion. Customers will be able to sample their creations – which include Smoked Hapa Poke, K-Town Poke Inari, Ahi Poke Tostada, Hawaiian Chili Pepper Lomi Ahi, among others – alongside craft beer sampling from Hawaii Food & Wine Festival vendors and other samplings throughout the store. Customers will choose the winning poke by voting for their favorite at ballot boxes at each poke station during the event. 

The poke creation with the most votes earns its winning chef bragging rights among the six other Poke Battle chefs, a $5,000 Foodland donation to his Hawaii charity of choice, and possible inclusion in the poke island at Foodland Farms Ala Moana and other Foodland stores. Come sample some poke and vote, admission is free!

When the battle for poke dominance ends, your chance to win a prize in Foodland’s 70th anniversary Scratch Card promotion begins. Beginning May 6, every customer spending $50 or more will receive a scratch card with an instant prize redeemable on their next visit. The more than $400,000 worth of prizes Foodland will be giving away includes free store products, Maikai points, HawaiianMiles and exciting grand prizes. Every scratch card is a winner, meaning every scratch card scratcher is a winner. Foodland’s Scratch Card promotion runs on all islands while supplies last. 

Held throughout all 70 days of Foodland’s birthday celebration are special anniversary Mahalo Deals – seven new discount and sale deals on Foodland groceries offered each week, from May 2 through July 10, for a total of 70 deals. Special Foodland Maikai My Rewards offers will also be awarded for HawaiianMiles bonus miles, 10 percent off groceries (with two My Rewards) and free store products. And to carry all of your groceries home in style, Foodland is debuting its new limited edition canvas “Food, Family, Friends & Aloha” reusable shopping bag, and a new reusable noodle-themed shopping bag design – noodles represent long life in Chinese culture, after all – shouting out just about every variant of locally loved noodle or pasta one can imagine. All of the above will be offered at Foodland stores on all islands. 

Ready to hear about food again? We thought so. 

What would an anniversary celebration be without great eats to go with it? (Distress, perhaps combined with the distinct sound of growling stomachs, we think.) Which is why the ever-creative, ever-curious, ever-hungry Foodland Farms Ala Moana culinary team, led by Foodland Corporate Chef Keoni Chang and Chef de Cuisine Brian Nagai cleverly crafted a number of new in-store grab-and-go food offerings right on time for all of the 70th anniversary celebrating. 

The lineup of new, inspired menu items at Foodland Farms Ala Moana includes: 
  • Five new seasonal offerings at The Bar at R. Field Wine Company. Order up a couple glasses of wine and a charcuterie board and dig into The Bar’s expanded menu of new bistro- and gastropub-inspired eats, including Fries and Rinds – a toothsome serving of garlic pepper french fries and chicharrón served with adobo aioli – and Southeast Asian Corn Dogs – mini lemongrass pork sausages dipped in sweet corn batter, fried and served with sriracha ketchup. Also new to the menu: four-cheese, crunchy French baguette Garlic Cheese Bread served with housemade pomodoro; Ahi Poke Tostadas featuring fresh fried crisp corn tortillas topped with Foodland Hawaiian-style ahi poke, Asian slaw, avocado puree and shichimi togarashi; and for sweet-toothed oenophiles, crisp pastry-shelled Mini Profiteroles filled with vanilla bean gelato and topped with a warm chocolate ganache. Make some time. You’ll be at the wine bar for a while.

  • A brand new milk tea bar. What’s better than a new milk tea bar at Foodland Farms Ala Moana? How about a new milk tea bar that serves bubble waffle sundaes and smoothies in addition to bubble teas – all of the above hand-crafted to order. Head to the milk tea bar for iced fruit teas infused with lilikoi, mango, strawberry, yuzu, lychee or green apple, or order iced milk teas crafted with coconut, avocado, matcha, taro, pineapple and other ingredients. If you wish, the tea bar staff will even turn your fruit or milk teas into tasty, chilled slushes. Choose your desired level of sweetness and boba then order up a made-to-order lilikoi, mango, strawberry, raspberry, lychee, piña colada, honeydew melon or coconut smoothie. Or order the cold dessert wonder that is the bubble waffle sundae – two scoops of gelato (in flavors of your choice, including birthday cake), capped with two toppings (choose from mochi, multiple boba and popping boba, Oreos, azuki beans, fruit and more), garnished with whipped cream, Pocky sticks and as many other garnishes as you desire (among them, bubu arare, coconut flakes, chocolate malt crisps and more). A menu of three Foodland Farms signature bubble waffle sundaes includes the Gotcha Matcha – green tea gelato topped with strawberries, azuki beans, condensed milk and bubu arare.

  • Nine new cold bar salads. The culinary team’s newest self-serve salad creations set to fulfill your greens dreams include a Curry Huli-Huli Chicken Salad (with long beans, cilantro and fried garlic), a Mexican Street Corn and Kabocha Salad (how’s that for an ono combo?), a Sicilian Tuna and Potato Salad, Somen Salad (with kimchi slaw and creamy taegu dressing), and a combination Sweet Potato, Chipotle and Apple Salad. Find them in rotation in the store’s cold bar in the weeks ahead.

  • Six new grab-and-go juices. And, trust us, you’ll want to grab and go to the checkout with all six. The craftily named selection includes Golden Cereal Latte (Chef Keoni asks that you think “cereal milk” with this one), I Dream of Ginger (you can’t go wrong with pineapple, cucumber, ginger, orange juice and coconut water brightened with lemon, honey and sea salt), Bull’s Blood (a sweet, spicy and bold blend of carrot, beet, pineapple and cayenne pepper) and Mint Mojito (think “summer all the time” merging of coconut water, lemon, spinach, mint, cucumber, banana and honey). Also offered: Berry Lime Chia Agua Fresca and PB Banana Brew. Bonus? They’re all good for you. Really.

  • More than 25 – yes, we said 25 – new bakery table items. All made fresh right in the store. Dare us to list all 25 sweet treats ready for bakery table rotation? Done. Banana bread. Zucchini bread. Almond and blueberry bread. Apricot bars. Date and fig bars. Sable mini cookies with sprinkles. Chocolate chip mini cookies with walnuts. Double chocolate Nutella mini cookies with macadamia nuts. Ginger snap mini cookies. Peanut butter mini cookies. Blueberry and lemon mini pies. Passion fruit and peach mini pies. Apple crumble mini pies. Tropical granola. Classic granola. Espresso granola. Blueberry cornmeal muffins. Strawberry buttermilk muffins. Bran muffins. Chocolate cupcakes. Vanilla cupcakes. Lemon cupcakes. Chocolate mini cakes. Vanilla mini cakes. And, finally, marble mini cakes. How do you spell happiness? S-U-G-A-R H-I-G-H, friends.

For more information, visit Foodland.com

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