The sugar industry in Hawaii dominated the state’s economy for over a century. But it has shrunk in recent years. Now, the last of the state’s sugar mills has wrapped up its final harvest.
I grew up hearing commercials that sold the purity of the Hawaiian sugar Industry (C & H, Pure Sugar, that’s the one!). These commercials sold not just the purity of Hawaii’s sugar, but also of the people and the place. These commercials were some of my first geographic imaginings of an exotic tropical paradise on the peripheral edge of the United States. Just like the imagined tropical bliss, the actual sugar industry of Hawaii is also coming to an end. “For over a century, the sugar industry dominated Hawaii’s economy. But that changed in recent decades as the industry struggled to keep up with the mechanization in mills on mainland U.S. That and rising labor costs have caused Hawaii’s sugar mills to shut down, shrinking the industry to this one last mill.”