Refrigeration first came to Hawai‘i in the middle of the nineteenth century.
“The first Boston ice brought to these islands, was received on the 14th inst. (September 14, 1850) by brig Fortunio, Hasty, via San Francisco.” (Polynesian, September 21, 1850)
Then, “(a) few tons of ice were brought to this port from San Francisco by the bark Harriet T Bartlet, Capt Heeren, and a part sold by our friend Thompson, at auction, on Tuesday.”
“This is the first importation of the kind, in any quantity, to this market, and but the beginning, it is to be hoped, of a regular supply of this luxury to the inhabitants of this city.” (Polynesian, June 26, 1852)
More came … “Ice! Ice! Ice! Just Received – 400 Tons Fresh Pond Boston Ice … have just been received by the (Mountain Wave) and are for sale by the Honolulu Ice Co. CH Lewers, Proprietor” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, October 21, 1858)
Then, they started to make ice in the Islands.
“Ice Manufacture. The establishment on the Esplanade for the manufacture of ice by chemical process, has been in operation during several days past. “
“Like all new beginnings, difficulties have had to be met and overcome, but yesterday the machinery was in the full tide of successful experiment, and to-day we expect to be able to see home-made ice.”
“It is expected that enough will be manufactured to supply the demand for the city, and at such rates as will prevent the necessity of importing the luxury from California.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, September 2, 1871)
“Manufactured Ice – The ice machine has resumed work again and arrangements are now complete for a regular supply, which we understand will be furnished at about one-third less than the imported article has lately been sold.”
“The proprietor has not only been at a great expense in bringing this machine here, but in having it altered to suit the temperature of the water in this climate. A regular supply of ice at the reasonable price asked, will doubtless cause it to become an actual necessity.” (Hawaiian Gazette, October 4, 1871)
“Ice and Iced Drinks. We are glad to know that the Ice Manufactory is at length established as a permanency, and is capable of turning out about 3,000 pounds daily of a fine article of pure ice.”
“We approve of the enterprise for several reasons. First on the policy of encouraging all home enterprises that are laudable, and second, we believe that the general and moderate use of ice is healthy, and that iced drinks are social reformers.”
“A loss by perspiration, whether by heat or labor, or both combined, excites the feeling of thirst, and that thirst must be satisfied. How much better, on all accounts, a glass of iced lemonade, soda water, or ginger pop, slowly imbibed, than imported tipple of beer, stout, whiskey, or suicidal absinthe!”
“And what an improvement does the house-wife find in satisfactorily carrying on her culinary duties with a few pounds of ice in the chest. Thus our experience of the benefits of ice, even in this hot climate, is in favor of the opinion of the London Liberal Review, a late number of which says that …”
“… ‘the introduction on a large scale of iced-non-intoxicating drinks for the English hot weather would be a great advantage to a thirsty public, and we believe would tend to lessen the number of drunkards.’” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, December 16, 1871)
Air conditioning first appeared in theaters. In 1912 or 1913, the Hawaiian Opera House experimented with electric fans blowing over large tubs filled with cakes of ice. Other theaters subsequently installed more sophisticated refrigerating equipment, although full-scale air conditioning did not appear in Island movie houses until the Hawai‘i Theater’s unveiling of a completely modern system in 1935.
Other early examples of air conditioning included the Metropolitan Market in 1917, McInerny’s store on Merchant Street in 1926 or 1927, and the Queen’s Hospital asthma ward in 1936. The first fully air conditioned home was built in 1938. (Schmitt)
By 1922, Hawaiian Electric had constructed lines to serve Wailupe and Kuliouou, Schofield and Pearl Harbor, Kahuku and Laie, Lualualei and Ewa. The following year, families in Kailua and Lanikai had electricity.
By 1924, the population of Honolulu exceeded 125,000 and the company reported selling 7,000 “cooking and heating” appliances. In 1927, Hawaiian Electric’s new King Street building opened for business. (HECO)
The first home electric refrigerators sold in Hawaii were reportedly Kelvinators, introduced by the Hawaiian Electric Company in 1922.
Newspaper advertisements for electric refrigerators did not appear until 1925, however, when Hawaiian Electric began running display ads for “Kelvinator, the Oldest Domestic Electric Refrigeration.” (Schmitt)