"We practised on pineapples then giant burrs then acorns till my aim was sharp. "
Lanai is the sixth-larghest Hawaiian island and is known as Pineapple Island.
Public DomainLanai is the sixth-larghest Hawaiian island and is known as Pineapple Island. - Credit: Landsat satellite image from NASA

Hawaii remains the biggest producer of domestically-consumed pineapples in the world.  They were introduced to the islands possibly as early as 1527 and cultivated in earnest by James Drummond Dole in 1901, not far from the Nine Valleys. He distributed canned pineapple all over the US, and was consequently dubbed the Pineapple King. At one stage Hawaii was the largest producer of pineapples in the world, supplying around 80 percent of the world's market, but its output has waned dramatically in recent years and Hawaii fails to rank among the top ten pineapple producers.

Sugar has played an even larger role in the islands' history. Between 1852 and 1930 waves of Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Filipinos emigrated to work on the plantations, which were often managed by draconian masters who segregated their work force along racial lines. The current racial picture is still very mixed, although the sugar industry in Hawaii is, like that of the pineapple, somewhat diminished. For the captains of the Hawaiian sugar industry – the sugar daddies, we could call them – the dolce vita has been stripped of its sweetness. 

A New York Times article about the waning of Hawaii's sugar industry