Maui Style® Shrimp Chips

These have been on Hawaii store shelves for years now, yet have you ever wondered why they’re titled “Maui Style”? I asked myself this question a few times in the past while browsing through the chips aisle.

After a quick search online, I came across an archived Star Bulletin article covering the closure of Frito-Lay’s production facility in the Halawa industrial district back in 2006. It was here where the Maui Style brand got its start, with this shrimp chips, regular and onion-flavored potato chips and taro chips all part of that line.

Wait a minute, though. OK, it was originally a product at least made in HAWAII, but specifically not MAUI, so why “Maui Style“? Shouldn’t it have been named “Halawa Style“? Or does that not sound so glamorous? OK, how about “Aiea Style“. Still not catchy enough? K’ then, how about “Oahu Style”. What’s wrong with that?! lol

But nooooooooo, their marketing execs probably thought “Maui Style” had a much better ring to it. One of being more exotic and ritzy. Right? Frito-Lay, being the goliath they are, went as far as registering the name Maui Style®. So now probably any new chip they introduce that even remotely has something to do with a tropical island will be badged under that brand.

Actually, what I think it could be, is that Frito-Lay intended to duplicate the kettle style Kitch ‘N Cook’d Potato Chips made by Maui Potato Chip Factory (not to be confused with the Kitch ‘N Cook’d Potato Chips from Kona), hence they came up with the trade name “Maui Style”. If you’ve ever tried Frito-Lay’s Maui Style® Potato Chips, it does have a similar texture and saltiness to it like the original Maui brand. Since Frito-Lay noticed shrimp and taro chips were popular in the islands, they simply added it to their Maui Style® potato chip line-up.

Remember the Maui Kitch ‘N Cook’d Potato Chips? They’re kinda’ really greasy and salty, thick and stiff kettle-style chips. They come packaged in a clear bag with red and yellow Kitch ‘N Cook’d label. Well those are in fact, MADE IN MAUI, so that is indeed MAUI STYLE! Kahului to be exact.

In case you’re wondering, yes, Maui Potato Chip Factory is still business. I just got off the phone with Mark Kobayashi, one of the three family members who own and operate the Maui-based business. He said currently you can only get them in select stores on Maui, or directly from their facility in Kahului (where it’s the cheapest at $4/bag). Star Market used to be the primary retailer on Oahu where you could get Maui’s Kitch ‘n Cook’d potato chips, but they’re working out distribution/buying issues with them, so as it stands, you gotta’ go Maui for it.

He went on to further explain some background behind the Kitch ‘N Cook’d brand name. As it turns out, ” Kitch ‘N Cook’d was a turn-key potato chip production franchise based on the mainland where independent owners around the nation could purchase their potato chip production equipment under the guideline that the product must include that red and yellow “Kitch ‘N Cook’d” logo on the packaging. Therefore right here in Hawaii we have two independent companies – one on Maui and one in Kona – that are branded under that name.

The Maui Potato Chip Company’s Kitch ‘N Cook’d Potato Chips are sold in 1 oz. and 4.5 packages, while the Kona Kitch ‘N Cook’d chips now come in wide variety of flavors and packaging options.

Anyhow, that should help solve any confusion.

Here’s how these Frito-Lay brand Maui Style® Shrimp Chips look out of the bag…

Maui Style® Shrimp Chips by Frito-Lay

I must say, these Maui Style Shrimp Chips are very fresh-tasting and crispy, with a subtle, yet detectable shrimp flavor. Best of all, they’re not too salty like so many other chips that are hitting the shelves nowadays. What’s the deal with that? They trying to give us all high blood pressure or what? These shrimp chips are salted just enough to add flavor, without making your limbs swell up.

Speaking of swelling up, that’s exactly what happens when these are deep-fried in oil from their “blank” state. I bought a box of the shrimp chip blanks once a long time ago from Tropic Fish & Vegetable Market. The “blanks” are rather tiny – about the size of a thumb – but within seconds in the hot oil they puff-up exponentially as the air in the shrimp-flavored tapioca starch dough expands, becoming full-sized shrimp chips like you see here. The ones I bought were the colored ones like the Yick Lung brand..

Out of the bag…

Yick Lung Shrimp Chips

I’m not sure which retailers still carry this, but Yick Lung still makes them, along with Nibb-its and Taco Tubes. Foodland used to carry their products, but not anymore. I’ll check Don Quijote next time I go. You can probably find the shrimp chip “blanks” in Chinatown. IIRC, the “blanks” was a product of Thailand.

Actually shrimp chips are a very common snack in most asian countries. In Indonesia, they’re called “Krupuk”. Learn more about Shrimp Chips in this interesting Wikipedia article.

Nutrition-wise, for each 1 oz. serving, Maui Style® Shrimp Chips provides 150 calories, with 70 of that from fat. There’s 8 grams total fat, with 1 gram saturated, 4.5 grams polyunsaturated and 2.5 grams monounsaturated, with 0 trans fat and 0 cholesterol. Each 1 oz. serving also provides 280 mg sodium (which I find surprising based on taste), 18 grams total carbs, less than 1 gram of fiber, 0 sugar and 0 protein. Neither does it have any essential vitamins or mineral. Boo.

The ingredients for Maui Style® Shrimp Chips are Corn and/or Cottonseed oil (listed first…ack!), Tapioca Starch, Corn Starch, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Yeast Extract, Artificial Flavor (boo!), Maltodextrin, Fructose, Soy Lecithin, and Mono- and Diglycerides. <—Yummy! Not. Oh, and it contains a soy ingredient (for any of you allergic to the stuff).

What I’m most curious to find out is if you can buy any of Frito-Lay’s Maui Style® chips in your neck of the woods on the mainland, or other country for that matter. I could try calling Frito-Lay myself to ask, but I don’t feel like waiting on hold for one hour on the phone.

There’s someone in San Francisco who was searching for them in the bay area to no avail. Folks suggested he try Dandy brand, but he insisted the Maui Style Shrimp Chips.

If you’re currently NOT in Hawaii, please let us know whether or not you can get these in your local grocery store. Mahalo.

What? Maui Style® Shrimp Chips
Who makes it? Frito-Lay, Inc. in Plano, Texas (formerly made in beautiful Halawa Valley)
Where did you buy it and how much? On sale at K-Mart for $2.50/4.5 oz. bag
Big Shaka to: Super fresh and crispy texture, with the perfect amount of shrimp flavor; not over or underpowering. It’s also not too salty; just right. Appetizing neutral off-white color. Reasonable price when on sale.
No Shaka to: “Maui Style” name, yet nothing remotely related to Maui about it. Oil listed as the FIRST ingredient (zoinks!). Closing down the Frito-Lay factory in Hawaii, causing many job losses.
The Tasty Island rating: 3 SPAM Musubi

Related links:
Frito-Lay to shutter isle manufacturing operations – Star Bulletin article
Classic Hawaii Snack Chips – The Tasty Island


12 thoughts on “Maui Style® Shrimp Chips

  1. I live in L.V. and haven’t seen it here so far. Longs Drugs (now under CVS) carries a lot of Hawaiian products but haven’t seen it there. I’m still hoping that they’ll carrry the NOH dried ogo packets I’ve heard about (they just carry the Poke Mix and who doesn’t already have ala’e salt and chili peper flakes in the pantry already, right? *L*). Interesting that the Maui Style chips are made in Plano; I lived in Dallas – Plano borders it.

  2. Pomai, Mom always buy from Chinatown the uncooked shrimp chips and fried them up herself. Cost very resonable. I will try this in taste to see the different. Chinese like to served shrimp chips with Chinese style fried chicken in restaurants dinner serve with 5 spices salt. In Hong Kong a recipe called Fried Milk Custard serve with shrimp chips.

  3. Kahului baby! My hometown! Yep…original Maui potato chips…one bag that and one Guri Guri 4 scoop mix Strawberry/Pineapple…the memories! My bro used to be one wholesaler back home Maui and used to get me a case of those chips for me bring back UNLV! Talk about care package!

  4. Hi Pomai.

    I was about to suggest purchasing fry-your-own shrimp chips. However, Erica beat me to it. You can also find these in some grocery stores. When you place those multi-colored hard disks in hot oil, they bloom into these ultra-crisp, light and delicious crisps. Not only are they cheaper, they are a whole lot fresher and a whole lot tastier. Sprinkle them with fine-grated salt or onion salt.

    Never mind Maui Style. Do it Pomai Style.

  5. Aloha Pomai – I oh-so-WISH we could get these in the mainland! I’m in Los Angeles, on the westside. No such luck finding shrimp chips here. Maybe the Gardena Marukai might have them, but that’s a weekend exploration; I’ll get back to you if I do find them.

    But you know what – I’m okay with having to go home for good food, including shrimp chips. Gives me a lot to look forward to when I get there!

  6. I haven’t really looked for them, but the only cooked shrimp chips I’ve seen here near Seattle are the ones imported from Asia. However, I’ll have to keep my eyes open in case I’m overlooking anything important.

    My mom used to buy the uncooked ones and put them into the hot oil of her giant wok. They puffed up beautifully after a few seconds and I loved the bright colors. Nothing beats a freshly fried shrimp chip!

  7. The uncooked one is same in taste. Cost far less than ready made one. I like it for it fresh and very colorful. I made shrimp chip shrimp by pounding uncooked shrimp chips very fine and fresh shrimp devein and prepare like butterfly shrimp tempura. Coat with egg and uncooked shrimp chips and deep fried.

    You get a very colorful crusted shrimp chip shrimp. In it show how to prepare shrimp for shrimp tempura.

  8. Betty, that concept of a shrimp tempura battered in crumbled shrimp chips sounds great! I just might try making it myself!

    Jenny, I just picked up a bag of what are called “Oishi Prawn Crackers”, which are made in the Philippines. Good stuff, yet different than the traditional shrimp chips as these Maui Style type are done in. Fresh-fried is great, except for the mess it makes, splatter-wise, in the kitchen. FWIW, I’d rather buy it already made, as long as it’s fresh-tasting and crispy like these Frito-Lay ones are.

    LALeilani, true dat. Mo bettah come home and get ’em fo’ bring back as omiyage. Just save room in your carry-on luggage for plenty of fresh and hot Chun Wah Kam, Char Hung Sut or Libby Manapua and other dim sum. No forget that!

    Menehune, next time I fry my own shrimp chips at home, I’m gonna’ try sprinkle ’em with Furikake. I think that will ROCK!

    C, I attended a high school graduation for my girlfriend’s cousin at UNLV last year, and they had orchid and plumeria leis for sale there at, as expected, way-way-way-over-the-top prices. If that’s the case, I say forget that, give me a money lei instead. lol

    Erica, interesting note about the shrimp chips being used with a fried milk custard. I really think there’s many possibilities with the foundation of what shrimp chips are. Sandwiches, salads, stir-fries, you name it. Just gotta’ think outside the box.

    Gwyn, it’s rather fascinating that even LV doesn’t have this (now) Texas-made product. Isn’t LV the “9th Hawaiian Island”?

  9. Aloha, Pomai!

    I’ve not posted here before, but have been a faithful follower of your site for quite some time! I know this topic is a bit old, but better late than never, right?

    Anyway, I think I know why these are called “Maui Style” chips. (I’m not going off official facts BTW, just something I’ve observed over the years while eating the chips) There were a few years where these chips weren’t on the market, or at least many retailers weren’t carrying them. I remember because shrimp chips are my absolute favorite, and there was a point at which I absolutely COULD NOT find them. Fast forward a few years, during my high school days (10 years ago?), I started seeing them near the registers in Longs under the “Maui Style” brand. Ecstatic, I bought a bag and took it home. When I opened them up, there was a strange smell, not like shrimp chips, but…oniony? Regardless, I started stuffing my face and was on my way to shrimpy chippy heaven, or so I thought. After the first two mouthfuls I realized that the chips had a weird taste, kind of like what you would get if a Funyun and a shrimp chip mated. I offered them to friends and all agreed that they tasted like onion. Discouraged, I threw them away but like a fool, continued to purchase them for years, thinking that they’d get better. At the end of my senior year, I decided not to buy them anymore because they tasted bad. After reading what you posted, I decided to try them again and bought a bag earlier today. I’ve just eaten them and discovered something strange: They taste like regular shrimp chips again! No stinky Funyun flavor anymore, they’re back to light, airy and delicious! Happy!

    Long story short–I think they are called “Maui Style” because they had an onion flavor at one point in time. I’m guessing they kept the name because it would be too hard to revert back to just “Shrimp Chips”, and because it sounds classy. I could be wrong, but that’s just my two cents.

  10. Syxx, I’m wondering if that onion flavor you were tasting was perhaps due to Frito-Lay’s Halawa facility using the same oil to fry the shrimp chips as they did their Maui Style Onion Potato Chips? You know, that Jack in the Box “Everything sorta’ taste like Seasoned Curly Fries” syndrome. According to your time line, that’s about when they would have been manufacturing them here on Oahu.

    Based on the light, fresh, crispy texture and “pure” flavor of the bag of shrimp chips showcased in this post, the mainland-based FL plant that produces these nails it on quality control. Both oil management and packaging.

  11. everyone who has ever had to move away from hawaii has one food item that they crave and can never get their hands on. for the past twenty years that item has been maui shrimp chips for me.sometimes i make my own with the little discs, and its good, but not the same. i’ve looked everywhere in cali to no avail. i head back to hawaii most years (actually in a few weeks) just to get my chow on local grindz and stock up on chips. the only trouble is with the maui shrimp chips, if you buy a huge balikbayan box worth and ship them home, they go stale after about a month. now my strategy is to eat them as often as possible when i am there and store up memories to last until next year. **sigh**

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