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Where to find crack seed on Oahu

By: Frolic Hawaii Jan 8, 2020

We’re lucky that in Hawaii, drug stores, convenience stores and supermarkets sell crack seed. But the best kind come from crack seed stores and hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop shops. If they let you sample, bonus. And if they sell Icee with li hing mui inside? That’s an unforgettable, only-in-Hawaii thrill.

These places on Oahu preserve the tradition.

Baldwin’s Sweet Shop

Baldwin’s is an Aiea institution known for its shave ice, but there’s a good selection of packaged crack seed among its savory snacks and gummies. — Mari Taketa

Waimalu Shopping Center • 98-040 Kamehameha Hwy. • Aiea • 488-0505

C-Mui Center

Of the myriad variety of seeds in glass jars and sealed in bags, customer favorites include rock salt plum, sweet-salty li hing mui and crack seed. But the lady who runs the store will tell you every flavor is popular. If there’s a specific one you want, go early. During mango season, the owner is very proud of her pickled mango, which she makes herself. — Kelli Shiroma

1111 Bethel St. • Chinatown • 536-4712

Crack Seed Store

From the era when every neighborhood had at least one crack seed store. Opened by Alice Wong sometime long ago, it attained legendary status in a tiny spot on Koko Head Avenue under 41 years of ownership by the amiable Young family, who retired this past New Year’s Eve. Now it’s in the hands of the Fang family of Chinatown’s Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery. Judging from the lines, Crack Seed Store is as popular as ever. — Mari Taketa

1156 Koko Head Ave. • Kaimuki • 737-1022

Family Grocery Store

Inside a little building on Kamehameha Highway, this mom-and-pop has a small selection of prepackaged crack seed. This is my personal favorite stop for lemon peel gummy bears. — Jason Chin

45-1127 Kamehameha Hwy. • Kaneohe • 235-0028

Kay’s Crackseed

Kay’s Crackseed has been serving up glass jar crack seed along with packaged gummies and savory snacks for 32 years. They’re one of the few that offer the trifecta of Icees (with lihing juice or powder, of course), shave ice and fresh buttered popcorn topped with furikake and kakimochi. Kay’s is one of the few businesses that you’re glad to know it hasn’t changed in decades. — Thomas Obungen

Manoa Marketplace • 2752 Woodlawn Dr. • Manoa • 988-4338

Lin’s Hawaiian Snacks

Dozens of varieties in glass jars and pre-packaged, plus milk teas, shave ice and sweet-sour-salty li hing mui blend drinks in the sleek newer part of Kakaako. — Mari Taketa

401 Kamakee St. • Kakaako • 597-8899 • linsmarkethawaii.com

Rainbow Crack Seed

Kaneohe has a treasure trove of crack seed places. This longtime merchant has a great selection of crack seed, kakimochi, dried fruit, dried seafood, flavored popcorn, shave ice and much more. I really like their sweet li hing mui for when I make pickled mango. — Jason Chin

Windward City Shopping Center • 45-480 Kaneohe Bay Dr. • Kaneohe • 235-5553 • rainbowcrackseed.com

Samurai Snacks Aiea

Samurai is known for strawberry and vanilla soft serve, but the shop also has a wide variety of crack seed. Most popular is the Super Sweet Seedless White Li Hing Mui. Samurai’s Bradda Pops often sell out daily. At $3 each, they come in flavors like strawberry, grape and pineapple with a li hing mui seed inside. — Kelli Shiroma

Aiea Shopping Center • 99-115 Aiea Heights Dr. • Aiea • 484-2200

Seed City

Seed City sells seeds in jars and prepackaged seeds, plus li hing Icee, which they’re known for. You may want to note that due to the huge trend in lemon peel gummies, they’re currently sold out of lemon peel. — Melissa Chang

Pearlridge Center • 98-1005 Moanalua Rd. • Aiea • 488-9755

Seeds ‘n Things

Walls and shelves of one of Oahu’s last mall crack seed shops are lined with glass jars and pre-portioned bags of seeds, old-school candies and tons of gummy options. Icee here comes with your choice of li hing powder or juice. — Mari Taketa

Windward Mall • 46-056 Kamehameha Hwy. • Kaneohe • 235-5050

Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery

Sing Cheong Yuan specializes in the preserved fruits served at Chinese New Year, all displayed in rectangular bins behind the pastry case. Now you can find their products in Kaimuki’s Crack Seed Store, which they recently took over. See the bins in the left-side window? Those are all crack seed. — Melissa Chang

Chinatown • 1027 Maunakea St. • Chinatown • 531-6688

Sun Chong Grocery

One of the hidden gems of Chinatown with maybe the biggest selection of crack seed items in the neighborhood. From nostalgic glass jars, you can get stuff like the football olive, dried passion fruit and all sorts of dried seafoods you’ve probably never heard of. Those that like to make their own lemon peel gummy bears can find the stuff already ground up and ready to go. Give yourself time to browse and you might find treasures you haven’t seen in a long time. — Jason Chin

127 N. Hotel St. • Chinatown • 537-3525

Wholesale Unlimited

Wholesale Unlimited get one wide assortment of pre-package crack seed kine snacks. Dey also known for own line of Betty’s Best Cookies das available in 23 flavors. Whaaaaat?! — Lee Tonouchi

We're lucky that in Hawaii, drug stores, convenience stores and supermarkets sell crack seed. But the best kind come from crack seed stores and hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop shops. If they let you sample, bonus. And if they sell Icee with li hing mui inside? That's an unforgettable, only-in-Hawaii thrill. These places on Oahu preserve the tradition. Baldwin's Sweet Shop — Photo

Meet the new Crack Seed Store owners

“Uncle” Kon Ping Young’s last day with his Kaimuki Crack Seed Store was Dec. 31, but yesterday, new owners reopened the iconic neighborhood snack shop without skipping a beat.

Young didn’t announce his retirement until it was time, nor did he put the store up for sale. He wanted his successors to understand the deep-rooted significance of the store’s offerings and its place in the community. Crack seed is an old-school, hanabata-days kind of snack, and you can’t mess with the legacy of that kind of venue in that kind of neighborhood.

As it turned out, he used the same distributor as Sing Cheong Yuan bakery on Maunakea Street, and she knew they’d be perfect to seamlessly take over Crack Seed Store upon Young’s retirement. They sell the same products in Chinatown; the big difference is that they focus more on the Chinese New Year seeds and candies, whereas Crack Seed Store’s main commerce is the li hing mui, whole seeds and kakimochi. Same same but different.

Young shared his recipes and techniques with Mei Fang and her family so they can continue to provide the same love by the pound (or half pound, or quarter pound, as the case may be), but since they share many of the same products, there wasn’t much of a learning curve.

Indeed, as I stood in the store yesterday, hoping to get a family photo for this blog, the traffic was nonstop — everyone from regular customers to kids on break to tourists flowed through the store. Some people were happy to see that the Fangs had taken over; some people hadn’t even heard the news about Young’s retirement and asked where Uncle was.

Overall, though, you can expect to get the mui, kakimochi, cuttlefish and any other favorite snacks from Crack Seed Store without a hitch. Since the Fangs own Sing Cheong Yuan, it’s natural that they will add peanut candy, gau, and other Chinese New Year treats to the product mix, and will eventually offer their bakery items (like manapua). And yes, that famous Icee, available in strawberry, blue vanilla and cola with the scoop of wet li hing sauce in the middle, will remain.

"Uncle" Kon Ping Young's last day with his Kaimuki Crack Seed Store was Dec. 31, but yesterday, new owners reopened the iconic neighborhood snack shop without skipping a beat. Young didn't announce his retirement until it was time, nor did he put the store up for sale. He wanted his successors to understand the deep-rooted significance of the store's offerings and its place in