The Largest Pineapple in the World

This giant fruit stood for more than 60 years in Honolulu, an icon as emblematic of the city as Diamond Head or The Royal Hawaiian Hotel.


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By the early ’90s, the pineapple’s steel-girder legs grew rusty. Soon its paint job faded and streaks of rust appeared down its flanks. The cannery closed in December 1992, and the pineapple was dismantled in October 1993, cut up into its original three pieces, and put in storage. Dole Canneries was converted to a movie-theater complex, sandwich shops and parking lots.

In 2001, the crown was put on display near the cannery, but it was soon stored again. In 2006, a bill was introduced in the Hawaii Legislature to preserve the tank. It went nowhere, but it was a worthwhile effort.

In July 1994, Castle & Cooke spokesman Bob Urquhart told The Advertiser that the pineapple would stay in storage in a warehouse on the Iwilei property. “We haven’t forgotten about it.”

“Painting the pineapple is like portrait work. Only you have to make the shadows deeper and blend the colors to get the true effect.”  
—Albert Coxhead

Perhaps there was hope that it would be resurrected, and avoid the destruction of the old Toyo Theater, or the crumbling fates of the Falls of Clyde or the Natatorium War Memorial.

In December 2009, I asked Urquhart, now Castle & Cooke’s vice president of commercial development, what the plans were for the pineapple, now in storage.

“Storage? No, it’s not. It’s gone.”

“Gone? I thought it was cut into three sections and stored?”

“It’s gone,” he repeated. “It was badly corroded. We had a fella climb down inside it to check it out. It was too far gone. It was cut up into pieces, destroyed and disposed of. Can’t say if it was cut up the first week or not, but it was soon. We had the crown for a while but we donated it. Can’t remember to who off the top of my head. This was years ago.”

Was Joni Mitchell thinking of Honolulu when she wrote, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, with a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot … you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

 

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