Fundraiser Grindz: Manapua

Regal Food Fundraiser 4-Pack Char Siu Pork Manapua, $5

The kid’s little league, Pop Warner, or soccer team. Canoe club. School trip. Church. Community organization. Like just about everything else in life, they need funds in order to operate. When membership fees, donations and other contributions just aren’t enough, they hold fundraisers. One way to do that is to render services, such as holding a car wash, carnival or festival, yet the most common method is to sell products – most often food – at minimum cost and high mark-up for maximum profit.

While everyone in the US has probably bought Girlscout cookies, boxed M&Ms and chocolate-covered almonds at one time or another, Hawaii has its own unique Fundraiser grindz.

Huli Huli Chicken (photo courtesy of Charlotte)

The first that comes to mind is Huli Huli Chicken. I mean REAL Huli Huli Chicken. Da’ kine they cook outside on those big, flat, charcoal-burning, motor-driven rotisseries (see photo above), where when you walk up to pay for some that just got bagged, the smell from the smoke wafting over as the chicken’s fatty skin fuels the fire reminds you of the oncoming deliciousness about to take place in your mouth. Oh yeah, you know what I’m talkin’ about! Damned, just writing that, I want some Huli Huli Chicken like NOW! Unfortunately I don’t see Huli Huli Chicken for sale that often in the urban Honolulu area. Mostly out in the country like North Shore and Waimanalo side. IIRC, the last time I bought Huli Huli Chicken, it was being sold at Maunalua Bay Beach Park in Hawaii Kai, and was $8 for a half chicken. Something like that.

The next (and probably most publicized) one that comes to mind is Zippy’s Chili. The last time I bought some was a few months ago for a coworker’s kids school, which it was $5 for a 2 lb. tub. Not a bad deal actually. One thing nice about the Zippy’s Chili Fundraiser is you buy the ticket and pick it up yourself, so you can choose exactly which Zippy’s Chili you want: either frozen or hot and fresh, bean or no bean, and meat or vegetarian. I like the vegetarian chili. Good stuff!

At a place I worked at a long time ago, one guy was selling SPAM Musubi to raise funds to help his kid with something. That’s too much labor though, if you ask me. Imagine making hundreds of SPAM Musubi by hand? Laters with that. I’d rather just selling Zippy’s Chili tickets.

A few  years ago, another department where I work held a fundraiser by selling Beef Stew with Rice and Mac’ Salad plates for $5. That’s pretty easy to do, as the stew, rice and mac can all be made in one pot bulk jobs.

Other grindz I’ve seen sold for fundraiser were Portuguese Sausage, Laulau, beef jerky (or “Slim Jim” sticks), mochi crunch and home-made cookies.

Yet this is the first time I’ve been offered Fundraiser Manapua. It must be a popular new thing with schools, because both my coworker who’s from Ewa Beach and my girlfriend’s coworker who’s from Kaimuki were recently selling them.

Regal Food Fundraiser 4-Pack Char Siu Pork Manapua, $5

Actually I’m surprised Manapua wasn’t around as a Fundraiser ever since it’s been around. This being Chinese Dim Sum, you  figgah ‘dem Pake’s smart make money. I guess they nevah like Fundraisah, they like keep all da’ money. lol

At $5 for this package of 4, that comes out to $1.25 each, which ain’t bad, considering Libby Manapua Shop sells theirs within that ballpark for 85 cents, and a deal if you compare that to Chun Wah Kam, who sells theirs for $1.50. I don’t know what the cost Regal Food charges for each Fundraiser package, but I’m guessing it’s lucrative for the organization, and tax deductible for the manufacturer.

The best part about this one is the Manapua is really good! Good enough to hold its own against Libby’s and Char Hung Sut, my all-time favorites. They’re sold refrigerated, not frozen. To eat it, just put it on a plate, cover with a wet paper towel and nuke it for about 30 seconds. The buggah comes out piping hot, with a nice, good-as-fresh supple bun and moist, flavorful Char Siu-flavored pork filling. The Char Siu filling doesn’t deviate either from what you’d expect it to taste like. I’ve had other Manapua where I was like “what’s in this?”.  You know, that kinda’ weird taste. The ultimate mystery meat. lol

Anyway, if someone hits you up to buy these Regal Fundraiser Manapua, get it. Good stuff.

One day if I hold my own fundraiser, I’d like to sell my Big Island Smoked Meat. I’m pretty confident it would sell out. I wanna’ learn how to make really good smoked marlin. That would sell out quickly too for fundraiser. At least I couldn’t resist someone who asked me, “Like buy Smoked Marlin? My kid’s soccah team get fundraisah fo’ go up mainland”. Brah, do I? I’ll take $100 worth!

Here’s a poll for you to vote for your favorite Fundraiser grindz. Choose the ones you buy enthusiastically because you enjoy eating it, not just because you want to help out the organization or person selling them.


22 thoughts on “Fundraiser Grindz: Manapua

  1. “At $5 for this package of 4, that comes out to $1.75 each, which is 10 cents shy of a dollar more than how much one would cost retail at Libby Manapua Shop.”

    Hi Pomai,
    Last I checked that comes out to $1.25 each. Love the blog thanks!

  2. Man, I really miss the huli huli chicken and Zippy’s chili fundraisers in Hawaii. I think of them everytime we have a fundraiser here on the mainland and we’re stuck selling/buying overpriced gift wrap or mediocre cookie dough.

    The Girl Scout cookies I don’t mind buying because they help fund something worthy, but last time I checked they were $4 a box! Man, that’s a lot of dough for a few Thin Mints or Samoas. I still buy them, but I wish we had a little more choices here for fundraising.

  3. When I first saw the pictures of your fundraiser manapua, I thought they looked suspiciously like the dry, gross ones I purchased recently. But, no the company who sold my friend’s kid’s school the junk (pidgin for “being of unacceptable quality” to those of you not familiar with the term), were too shame (“unable to accept responsibility for a shoddy product”) to put their company name on the bag. I was really disappointed, but fortunately that was an unusual experience; most fundraiser eats are pretty tasty and, of course, worth the donation for a good cause.

  4. Wow, I randomly found your blog via google images and I can’t stop reading! Your blog makes me feel hungry even after a full meal, that and I really enjoy your reviews – written obviously by someone who knows good food! Awesome job and keep up the good work!

  5. I remember growning up Buck Sweet Bread was the fund raiser items. It was before King Sweet Bread. Wish there was a breakfast fund raiser with Croc Monsieur or special food cookout. When I have kids I will voulunteer as a fund raiser now see Ms. Right would like to be Mrs. Right.

  6. Michale, ah yes! Portuguese Sweet Bread. I forgot about that one. It’s been a while since I’ve had anyone proposition me for that as a fundraiser, but remember growing up, my folks used to get those all the time from their coworkers. And my grandmother would serve it to me with 1 pound of butter slathered on it. lol

    Katrina, Mars and Alvin, mahalo! Will do.

    Molly, I’ve never heard of this Regal Foods company before, but really, these Manapua are ono. Supple bun and flavorful, spot-on char siu pork filling. While as you see, not “choke” filling, but enough for a satisfying Manapua experience, if you will. At least we in our office think so. If it looks dry in the picture, it’s because I “under-nuked” it so I could cut it easier (without it collapsing). The moisture factor is very good with these. Of course, using a wet paper towel when you nuke ’em makes all the difference.

    Jenny, are you serious? They sell gift wrap and cookie dough up there where you live? They can’t even bake the cookies for you? I must say, that is soooo lame. What else? “Hey Jenny, my son’s selling blank CD-Rs for his upcoming school trip. Wanna’ buy some? They’re $5 for a pack of 10.” lol

    Regarding Girlschout cookies, Thin Mints and Samoas are my 2 favorites! Every year they set-up a table in front of Aina Haina Foodland, right next to the entrance, making it impossible NOT to buy any if you’re walking in there.

  7. “Jenny, are you serious? They sell gift wrap and cookie dough up there where you live? They can’t even bake the cookies for you? I must say, that is soooo lame. What else? “Hey Jenny, my son’s selling blank CD-Rs for his upcoming school trip. Wanna’ buy some? They’re $5 for a pack of 10.” lol ”

    Eh, don’t even joke about blank CD-Rs. That’s probably next. 😦
    The cookie dough is to keep in your freezer for whenever you want that freshly baked taste. But it’s about $14 for a 2-lb. tub. I can get a big tub of Toll-House chocolate chip cookie dough at Costco for $7 (which I never do, but being pake, I have to comparison-shop, right?). The final nail in the coffin? Most of the fundraising cookie doughs don’t even contain real butter!

  8. Growing up we sold sweet bread, arare, and Portuguese sausage for sports trips. I’d go up my street and sell tickets and offered to deliver. The folks those days trusted us cause they knew where we lived!

  9. Just wanted to let you know I love reading your blog! I have visited Hawaii on vacation but I was young and didn’t explore the local foods. Reading you blog makes me want to go back and start to try the island foods!

  10. Buck Sweet Bread! I have not seen or tasted it for many years is it still around? If not which is next best bakery that sell it? Living in California try to keep track what gone and what is new also.

  11. I like huli huli chicken, but haven’t had it in years. And your descriptions have given me a craving. I can smell the chicken fat smoke right now. Danggit!

    Just for that, you’ve been tagged! Come visit our site for details.

  12. Pomai, Why don’t someone make gift baskets to sell for fund raiser? Around this time is good way to save time and packing. People buy it and ship out to mainland as gifts. Pay extras do the shipping for you.

  13. At Iolani we used to have the huli huli chicken fundraiser every year. Starting between about 5 or so in the morning the fire pits were lit. Crews started putting out the chicken halves in the racks. When the fires were ready the racks were puton. Over the next 6 hours or so it was constant cooking. Then taken to be bagged and finally pick up by folks. Think we held the Guiness record of cooking chicken – 30K halves or so. Cooking done by noon. Ended up smelling totally of smoke.

  14. Nate (L), that’s a great story about making the stuff! I could imagine the smell of smoke your clothes must absorb while doing that all day.

    I see Ernest Morgado, the founder of the Huli Huli Chicken fundraiser concept passed away in 2002.

    Amy, great idea. We have a few gift basket shops around town, but never seen any advertise for Fundraiser drives. Wouldn’t it be any Hawaii expats dream to receive a Fundraiser “gift basket” of frozen Manapua, Portuguese Sausage and Maui Manju, just to name a few ideas.

    Nate, glad you like my description. I’m still craving a taste (again) of really good Huli Huli chicken.

    Betty, I don’t remember Buck Sweet Bread. One of the respected names in Sweet Bread today is Ani’s Bakery, based in Halawa. They were a featured vendor at this year’s Honolulu Portuguese Festa.

    Melissa, mahalo for the compliments!

    Nate, wow, if the buyers know where you live, you bettah be selling them good stuff… or else!

    Jenny, ah that makes sense. I just have to wonder though, how many actually end up baking the cookies vs. letting the dough end up just getting freezer-burned and forgotten.

    I’ve tried them Toll-House cookies (made from dough) from Costco… good stuff!

  15. Eh Nate (hwn pake in okinawa), you went Iolani? Chee, small world ah? Dis pake also wen Iolani!

    You talking about the huli chicken sales they used to do in the parking lot in front of the old gym on Kamoku St?

    I used to be part of Troop 325 and we did the huli chicken booth at the Carnival back when they were still doing it on the football field.

    Man, that was a long time ago.

  16. Pomai – Used to cook out in left field, by the warehouse. Like maybe 12~15 pits. The gym parking lot was the pickup area. From left field to the student center for packing, then the parking lot for pickup.

    Remember the kalua pig that used to be cooked by Coach Clem (he passed away last year I heard) in big pit by the makai side of the warehouse. Used to help him kalua four very, very large pigs for the carnival every year. He used the plastic sheet method. Still remember it all distinctly. Too bad there were no digital cameras in those days. Nobody every thought of taking photographs.

    By the way, I was the general chairmain of the last and final 1991 Iolani Carnival. As part of the Alumni Association we ran it for 10 years. Think we grossed 700K~800K, netting maybe 350K for the school. Big $s for that time.

    What year you? I’m an old fut.

  17. Eh hwn pake,

    I donno if Pomai wen’ grad Iolani, but I wen grad ’88. So I t’ink you got some years on me.

    But still your memory is better than mine, since you’re right about where they actually huli’d da chickens. I don’t remember the kalua pigs either.

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