It is referred to in different ways, depending on where you are from … in Hilo it’s Ice Shave; lots of folks outside the Islands call it Sno-Balls, SnoCones (or Snow Cones) or even Shaved Ice … most, here, call it Shave Ice.
Shave ice exists all over the world today and is known as Gola Gunda in Pakistan, Juski in India, Ice Kachang in Malasia & Singapore where it is served with red beans and other fruits, Raspa, Raspado, or Raspadillo in Mexico and Peru (Raspar means “scrape” in Spanish.) (Stever)
In 1956, five years after Matsumoto Grocery Store first opened their doors to the public, a family friend suggested that the store sell cones of shave ice to help make up for slow business.
Mamoru and Helen soon purchased a hand-crank shave ice machine from Japan, attached an electric motor and started making shave ice cones at a nickel a piece. (Nemoto)
Whoa … we are already getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s look back …
Born in Hawaiʻi, Mamoru Matsumoto’s family returned to Hiroshima-ken when he was a toddler, and they struggled to survive. He worked as an apprentice at a sake factory and other odd jobs, but the income was insufficient.
Through friends and relatives he met his wife, Helen Momoyo Ogi, and they were married at the Haleiwa Jodo Mission. Mamoru worked long hours while Helen became a seamstress. They dreamed of opening their own business and purchasing a home for his family in Japan and for themselves.
Mr Kazuo Tanaka gave them the opportunity to open their own grocery store, M. Matsumoto Store Inc (founded February 13, 1951) in the previous Tanaka Store in Haleiwa. (Matsumoto)
Although grateful for the spot they now call home today, they “struggled” at first and had to work “really hard” in order for the family business to stay afloat. (Nemoto)
At first, Mamoru peddled his wares on a bicycle, until he was able to afford a panel truck. He went from camp to camp, taking orders and delivering the goods, while Helen manned the store and did some sewing. (Matsumoto)
“My dad had a panel truck,” says the second-generation Matsumoto. “He used to go around the community trying to sell canned goods in the back.” (Nemoto)
In 1956, the family expanded the business to include the frozen treat that’s known as kakigori (shave ice) in its place of origin, Japan. “The Japanese immigrants moved here with ice shavers. The equipment works like a wood planer.” (Washington Post)
This was before the present big wave surfing on the North Shore. Until the 1930s, modern surfing in Hawaiʻi was focused at Waikīkī; there the waves were smaller.
Then, in 1937, Wally Froiseth and John Kelly, reportedly on a school trip witnessed the large break at Mākaha and later surfed its waves. They were later joined by George Downing and others.
Riding at an angle to the wave, rather than the straight to shore technique, on the new “hot curl” board, with narrower tails and V-hulled boards, allowed them to ride in a sharper angle than anyone else.
Mākaha became the birthplace of big wave surfing. Even before Oʻahu’s North Shore, Mākaha was ‘the’ place for surfing – especially big-wave surfing.
But North Shore surfing caught on, so did the requisite stop at Matsumoto’s for shave ice.
When son Stanley Matsumoto took over in 1976, he bumped the canned goods to make space for the growing shave ice (and Matsumoto T-shirt) enterprise, which had been garnering attention from the Japanese media and visiting celebrities from both sides of the Pacific. (Washington Post)
In the busy summer season, the shop makes 1,000 ices a day; when school’s in session, the number drops to 500. “My father would be so happy with how the store has gotten so big,” said Matsumoto, whose father died in 1994 at age 85. (Washington Post)
“If they were alive right now they would be so happy to see how the store is today,” Matsumoto says. “They would be so proud to see everyone come to the store and have a nice time.” (Nemoto)
Shave ice is a local specialty found throughout the islands, but Matsumoto’s stands out for being the oldest continuously run operation on Oahu, going back more than half a century. (Washington Post)
Kamehameha Schools recent redeveloped the area. In all, the 28,000-square-foot retail complex spans a 0.1-mile section of Kamehameha Highway between Mahaulu Lane and Kewalo Lane.
Retailers now open for business include Matsumoto Shave Ice, Whaler’s General Store, Haleiwa Fruit Stand, Clark Little Gallery, Global Creations, Greenroom Hawaii, Guava Shop, Island Vintage Coffee, Kahala Sportswear, Mahina, Mailikukahi Hale Kamehameha Schools North Shore Information Center, Malibu Shirts, Spam Hawaii, Splash! Hawaii, T&C Surf and Teddy’s Bigger Burgers. (PBN)