Taroena

Central to Hawaiian cuisine, poi accompanies every Hawaiian meal. The mashed steamed taro root with water also serves as a medicinal food.

A nutritious food, poi has a lot of fiber, vitamins C and B-1, potassium, magnesium, and iron and is a good food for infants and people with indigestion. The hypoallergenic poi has saved lives of babies with allergies who could not eat anything else.

Poi can also be taken as a probiotic.

Poi can get expensive, so sometimes people buy taro flour as a cheaper alternative, including Taroena, which was produced in Wailuku, Maui, in the late 1890s and early 1900s. Headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, Taroena’s company marketed the nutritious and easily digestable taro flour as medicinal food for infants and people with indigestion.

Customers attested Taroena’s nutritional qualities. Mothers said Taroena was the only food their babies could eat. People with digestive issues were able to digest Taroena and gained weight. Taroena General Manager T. W. Hobron said the local physicians recommended Taroena, and it excels poi because Taroena’s manufacturing process changes the taro flour into dextrine, which acts as partially digested food.

Hobron said there had been a huge demand for Taroena in Honolulu:

“People are finding out about [Taroena] and commencing to use it. It is cheaper than the much-advertised foods, and its results are more uniform and reliable.”

The company also exported to the U.S. mainland and the British colonies.

In 1897, Taroena’s company held a recipe contest for the best recipes using Taroena.

From around 1898 to 1902, ads for Taroena appeared in Hawaii newspapers (below), touting Taroena’s health benefits and testimonials from satisfied customers. The ads claimed Taroena served as a nerve tonic, fibre builder, and digestable food for seasickness and a cure for nervousness, irritability, and headache. Taroena aimed to become a household name.

– Alice Kim

Source

“Some of Honolulu’s Industries: Different Lines Manufactured in Honolulu Where Raw Material Must be Imported”

The Hawaiian gazette., March 12, 1897, Page 9, Image 9
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025121/1897-03-12/ed-1/seq-9/

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