King's Hawaiian Behind-the-Scenes Factory Tour

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

King's Hawaiian Tour & Lunch
King's Hawaiian Behind-the-Scenes Factory Tour and Lunch

King's Hawaiian Bread has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the South Bay of Los Angeles, where founder Robert Taira set up his factory on the mainland. My auntie and uncle live within a mile of that factory, and I have fond memories of driving by and smelling the King's bread baking...always wondering what was going on inside. My mother even remembers friends bringing back King's round bread from Hawaii as omiyage (gifts & souvenirs) in the 1960-1970s.

My mother immigrated from Okinawa, Japan in the 60's. Every single time we eat King's Hawaiian bread or visit the restaurant, she says, "You know, the family that founded King's - Taira? They're Okinawan." Every. Single. Time. (If my mom tweeted, she could hashtag #okinawanpride!)

Yes, King's is the bread for my family. Even now, my mom's Thanksgiving shopping list includes three 24-roll packages...for about 8 people - that's 9 rolls per person!

So, when King's Hawaiian invited me for a special behind-the-scenes factory tour and lunch?! The entire west coast heard me scream with delight.

King's Hawaiian Tour & Lunch
Mark Taira, son of founder Robert Taira spoke about his dad founding the bakery in Hilo, Hawaii in the 1950's. Mr. Taira's neighbor would bake a Portuguese round sweet bread that only lasted one day. Mr. Taira perfected the recipe to last much longer and an industry was born. After setting up in Honolulu in 1963, on King Street, his bread became known throughout the state. Then, in 1977 they opened the factory in Torrance, California. We visited the second factory in the South Bay. What was even more exciting? It was the very first time non-family and friends of the founders were allowed to tour the facility!

King's Hawaiian Tour & Lunch
Nothing like seeing thousands of fresh hot dog buns whirling along conveyor belts...from rolling out, proofing, baking and packaging. We saw the new hot dog buns being produced as well as the delicious honey wheat rolls. At the end of the tour, they lifted a few boxes off the belt and served them up with butter. Literally, hot from the oven!

King's Hawaiian Tour & Lunch
After the tour, we were treated to a wonderful lunch. King's brought in the best food trucks to make special meals on King's Hawaiian bread. Lobsta Truck rolls with butter on the new hot dog bun? OMG....so delicious! The Buttermilk Truck made french toast sticks with King's bread for a sweet treat. The Ludo Truck makes crispy, perfectly seasoned chicken, and the Kogi Truck short rib sliders on King's rolls were amazing. In addition, the King's family made delicious tail-gate treats - great ideas for the upcoming football season!

King's Hawaiian Tour & Lunch
Three generations of Taira's work at the King's Factory and Restaurants including the founder's brother (not pictured) who rises everyday and works in the bakery. With so much of our food made by large multi-national conglomerates, it was special to see a successful, Southern California family business. And, as my mom would say, "Okinawan too!"

King's Hawaiian Tour & Lunch
The dessert buffet was outstanding...including two types of bread pudding made with King's Hawaiian bread. Have you been to the King's Hawaiian Restaurant and Bakery in Torrance? Another reason to visit the cool ocean breezes in the South Bay of Los Angeles. I love the Paradise cake, and blogged about it here and here.

King's Hawaiian Mascarpone Toast Tarts
I went home and opened the largest swag box ever. It contained every one of King's products, an apron, Hawaiian coffee & candies - oh my! I made a simple dessert with mascarpone fruit toasts - find the recipe in the next post.

Thanks King's Hawaiian and the Taira family for a great day!

With nationwide distribution, you can find King's in a grocery store near you. This Labor Day holiday, you should try the new hot dog buns! More information here.

FCC Disclosure: I was invited for the tour & lunch and received a gift basket from King's Hawaiian. I did not receive compensation. Opinions are my own...I'm seriously this crazy about King's Hawaiian bread.
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8 comments:

Doreen said... [Reply to comment]

Wow... I've been following your blog for a long time (love it btw!) but this post seriously made me jealous! What a cool experience!

Miss Mochi said... [Reply to comment]

The part about your mom and her would-be hashtag brought a huge smile to my face.

It reminds me of my grandmother, who every time we had Chinese she would proudly proclaim that a Japanese American made that fortune cookie.

Karen said... [Reply to comment]

Not even kidding- last night I woke up thinking, "I wonder how top-split hot dog buns are produced in a factory. You never seen the end rolls with the browned sided, and I wonder what kind of slicer they use to create the opening." Do you have any pictures from the tour??

The Food Librarian said... [Reply to comment]

@Karen We didn't see the slicing of the tops of the hot dog buns...half the factory was making hot dog buns and the other have making honey wheat rolls so we didn't see everything. - mary

Damaris @Kitchen Corners said... [Reply to comment]

This is AWESOME! I love King's Hawaiian more than homemade bread. On Sundays I like to make pulled pork (with rock salt and liquid smoke in the crock pot) and serve with King's Hawaiian. Baby Maria is having a birthday in a couple of weeks, I had no idea they made hot dog buns. Now I know what to buy.

xoxo

LibraryGirl62 said... [Reply to comment]

LOVE King's Hawaiian! I just today finished a package of the little bitty rolls-ate smoked pork chops on them. Right before my kids left for college, we had chili dogs on the hot dog buns. I second Doreen-so jealous!!!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I miss the sweet bread so much, we used to visit family in Hawaii

zing said... [Reply to comment]

I Said to myself I am not the only one crazy about kings Hawaii bread since I visited USA and a family friend introduced me to this bread I became in love with it and it became a tradition for any family or friend of mine coming to canada to visit me from USA knew I don't need any present or gift than kings Hawaii .how I wish they will come to Canada.I wished I also I had the opportunity to visit the bakery like you.

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