You crave it. It makes you smile. It cools you on a hot summer's day and at the same time warms your heart. It's Guri Guri! You're probably thinking "why write a blog on Guri Guri? Everyone knows what it is!" Well that's what I thought until one of our designers who has been living on the island for a good 6 years, had embarrassingly never heard of one of Maui's most pristine and honored treasures. So this is for those of you who recently moved to Maui, our welcomed visitors and for the locals who can never get enough.
What is Guri Guri?
Well rumor has it that there's a mixture of condensed milk and strawberry syrup (for the strawberry flavor, can't quite figure out the pineapple flavor). How it's made? No one knows but the Tasaka family. Cindy Tasaka did not learn of the recipe until she was well out of college and had to pass rigorous training and spy torturing stuff. We harass her constantly for any hints of the secret concoction but she's one tough cookie. To describe it is quite simple. It's not as creamy and sweet as ice cream, yet not as icy and tart as sorbet. It's the perfect happy medium. I have a friend Craig, who's 6 ft. tall but eats it as daintily as a ballerina. With wooden spoon and pinky out, he gingerly scrapes the top of each scoop and savors each tiny morsel. No lie.
And by the way there are only two flavors for "public" consumption. Strawberry and pineapple. Yes, we've harassed Cindy about expanding their product line but though she's a Tasaka, she has no yank. Actually, we love the simplicity.
What's the scoops?
You have a choice of 1 to 5 scoops in various combinations. 1 scoop strawberry, 1 scoop pineapple, alternating (which I don't suggest ordering, your scoops may get smaller) strawberry on the top, pineapple on the bottom... your options are almost limitness. Rumor has it that some hardcore Guri Guri lovers even go up to 10 scoops. They eat it from the large soda cup. My husband has a manly 5 scoop mix while my six year old son has developed his own preference after growing up on a balanced 2 scoop mix. He has now matured to a 3 scoop strawberry. A purist.
Who invented Guri Guri?
The story goes back 4 generations to Great Grandpa Jokichi who started "Tasaka Candy Shop" initially on Oahu then in Kahului Town. It was a small Japanese snack shop that sold home made senbei, mochi and manju. Grandpa Gunji actually invented "Goody Goody," yup, that was its original name. Over time, the Tasaka family kept hearing the old folk calling it "Guri Guri," so they eventually gave in and changed their sign. So if you're living in 2010, its pronounced "Guri Guri," just like its spelled. It's not "Goody Goody" anymore. No one really knows how the recipe about but somehow he hand mushed homemade frozen ice cream and Guri Guri (back then, "Goody Goody") was born. Today Grandson Henry runs the store with daughters Gayle, Cindy and niece, Kelly.
What's with the beans?
Ok, forget about asking for beans because they are not coming back. Grandma Yoshino and sons used to make them daily and it was super humbug. I believe you have to boil the beans for 3 days, add sugar cane and boil for another 4 days constantly. Super hard work, so for those who were so fortunate to try those homemade black beans appreciate and remember every morsel. Unfortunately Grandma got old and stopped making the beans in 1990 and she eventually passed away in 2001. No one else wanted to stir beans for 7 days straight. Some novice bean eaters suggest "ah, just open da can!", but that would be an insult to Grandma Yoshino. So for anyone that's looking for a new business to start, I suggest making your own black beans and open up shop next to Tasaka's.
Guri Guri is truly a Maui Thing. Original, home grown and super affordable (cheaper than any scoop of ice scream or 6 oz cup of yogurt). We admire the family's tenacity and strength in not selling out to the corporate big boys. Yes they could have gone to Vegas, opened a franchise and become the next Dip and Dots, but who needs trillions when you've got Maui? You can only get Guri Guri on Maui and that's the way we like it!