Who knew that one of the pleasures of being on a Hawaiian island would be re-connecting with one’s old favorite drugstore? Longs Drugstores used to be plentiful all over the West, but a few years ago they were sold to CVS Pharmacy. Only in Hawaii were they allowed to keep their old name. We noticed that they kept way more than that.
The Longs stores where our family shopped for decades were unique among chains that we knew of in that they kept a local flavor, perhaps by letting the lower management have more control.
I admit that I didn’t fully appreciate the stores until they were gone and I was left with only more bland chains to choose among if I wanted something smaller than Wal-Mart. All of those stores still seem equally disorganized to me and irritating to shop in.
On Maui, the Longs store was just a few paces down the road from our condo. The first time we shopped there, laying in some supplies that we hadn’t brought with us, I reveled in all of the souvenirs, Asian snacks, and a whole aisle devoted to Kona coffee and macadamia nuts.
I saw more Asian snacks than I’ve ever seen in my local market that carries nothing but Asian foods, and I got carried away taking pictures of the vast collection of exotic concoctions.
The names of the items are hard to read even if you click to get the large photo, so I’ll just tell you that in addition to packages of the more common rice crackers and wasabi pea snacks, there were bags of pickled apricot, fried cuttlefish rings and dried cuttlefish legs, dried mango and banana chips, and lemon peel both wet and dried. I love lemon, but neither of those lemony snacks appealed to me. Many items with only Hawaiian or other foreign names filled out the array.
I was awfully excited to find really cheap re-usable carry-out bags with not only the Longs name but also the Hawaii symbols of turtle and hibiscus — it seems my heart was longing for just such a souvenir to bring home.
At first I also thought that the Asian snacks were going to come in really handy to keep around during our vacation, but when I read the labels for a few minutes it turned out that almost all of them contained MSG or aspartame or both, so I only bought a fairly simple food that fit with the island theme: dried coconut.