‘Pineapple’ was given its English name because of its resemblance to a pine cone. It was first recorded in the Islands in 1813 by Don Francisco de Paula Marin, a Spanish adviser to King Kamehameha I.
Although sugar dominated the Hawaiian economy, there was also great demand at the time for fresh Hawaiian pineapples in San Francisco; then, canned pineapple.
The pineapple canning industry began in Baltimore in the mid-1860s and used fruit imported from the Caribbean. (Bartholomew)
Commercial pineapple production (which started about 1890 with hand peeling and cutting operations) soon developed a procedure based on classifying the fruit into a number of grades by diameter centering the pineapple on the core axis and cutting fruit cylinders to provide slices to fit the No. 1, 2 and 2-1/2 can sizes. (ASME)
Up to about 1913, various types of hand operated sizing and coring machines were used to perform this operation. The ends of the pineapple were first cut off by hand. The pineapple was then centered on the core and sized.
Production rates were about 10 to 15 pineapples per minute. A large amount of labor was required, and it was not practical to recover the available juice material from the skins. (ASME)
The first profitable lot of canned pineapples was produced by Dole’s Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1903 and the industry grew rapidly from there. (Bartholomew) In 1907 Hawaiian Pineapple Company opened it cannery in Iwilei.
About 1911, Henry Gabriel Ginaca of the Honolulu Iron Works Company, Honolulu, was engaged by Mr James Dole, founder of Hawaiian Pineapple Company, to develop the machine which made the Hawaiian pineapple industry possible and which bears his name today. (ASME)
The early Ginaca had a production capacity of about 50 pineapples per minute and required from three to five operators depending on how much inspection of the machine product was performed at the machine.
The increase in production from 15 to 50 pineapples per minute was enough to reduce the cannery size to economical proportions and made possible the design of efficient preparation lines. Once the new preparation and handling systems were proven the industry grew rapidly.
The term “Ginaca” is now generally applied to a variety of machines which are designed to automatically center the pineapple on the core, cut out a fruit cylinder, eradicate the crushed and juice material from the outer skin, cut off the ends and remove the central fibrous core.
The cored cylinder leaving the Ginaca machine is then passed to a preparation line where each fruit is treated individually to remove cylinder defects or adhering bits of skin. (ASME)
After a number of years of constantly increasing production, a new high-speed machine was designed at the Hawaiian Pineapple Company capable of preparing from 90 to 100 pineapples per minute depending on fruit size.
The Ginaca machine made canning pineapple economically possible. As a result, until the “jet age” Hawaii had an agricultural economy and pineapple was the second largest crop (behind sugar.)
Henry Ginaca was born May 19, 1876. The records are not clear whether he was born in California or in Winnemucca, Nevada, where his father had worked as a civil engineer. His father was Italian, his mother French.
While a teenager, he became an apprentice at the old Union Iron Works in San Francisco. He also took a course in mathematics to enable him to become a mechanical draftsman.
He was hired by the Honolulu Iron Works and came to Honolulu, apparently to work on engine designs. Dole later hired Ginaca to work specifically on a mechanical fruit peeling and coring machine.
He joined Hawaiian Pineapple Co in March, 1911, at a salary of $300 per month, a substantial wage in those days. Ginaca was 35 years old.
In the first year of Ginaca’s employment he came up with the initial design for his machine. From then until 1914 he added improvements and refinements to it.
Though many “bugs” had to be worked out, Ginaca’s machine was a success from the beginning. The machine was awarded a gold medal at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915.
In 1914 Ginaca and his two brothers decided to return to the mainland and try their hand at mining. The mining ventures of the three brothers were failures.
For Henry Ginaca, a productive career came to an untimely end on October 19, 1918, when he died of influenza and pneumonia at the old Mother Lode mining camp of Hornitos. He was only 42. (ASME)
Dole bought the island of Lānaʻi and established a vast 200,000-acre pineapple plantation to meet the growing demands. Lānaʻi throughout the entire 20th century produced more than 75% of world’s total pineapple.
By 1930 Hawai‘i led the world in the production of canned pineapple and had the world’s largest canneries. Production and sale of canned pineapple fell sharply during the world depression that began in 1929, but rapid growth in the volume of canned juice after 1933 restored industry profitability.
But establishment of plantations and canneries in the Philippines in 1964 and in Thailand in 1972, led to a decline in Hawai‘i (mainly because foreign-based canneries had labor costs approximately one-tenth those in Hawai‘i.) As the Hawaii canneries closed, the industry gradually shifted to the production of fresh pineapples. (Bartholomew)
In 1991, the Dole Cannery closed. Today, Dole Food Company, headquartered on the continent, is a well-established name in the field of growing and packaging food products such as pineapples, bananas, strawberries, grapes and many others.
The Dole Plantation tourist attraction, established in 1950 as a small fruit stand but greatly expanded in 1989 serves as a living museum and historical archive of Dole and pineapple in Hawai‘i.