It’s not everyday we get a bananagram at the MauiTime offices. If you’re not familiar with the bananagram, it’s an absolutely delicious locally made frozen banana treat that shows up at your door, delivered by smiling girls Melissa Abraham and Megan Gneiting. Those of us monkeys who were still working Wednesday afternoon gladly took up various flavors of the treats. Some were coated in mac nuts, others coconut, but all of them were covered in ‘Da Local Banana’s signature non-dairy chocolate coating.
Mother Nature had her thinking cap on when she created the banana. It makes the most incredible ice cream with nothing more than temperature change–and no cow needed. Of course, it’s ironic that the banana grows best in the tropics and until refrigeration came along there was no way for people to indulge in them except possibly here in Hawaii, where cold temperature at high elevations made it possible.
Bananas grow pretty well on Maui. They like the hot sun and they can drink gray water from washing or outdoor showers. Their leaves can make feed and dried parts of the trunk can be used for weaving materials. Banana trees make a lot of fruit, too.
Owner Melissa Bruschi says she wanted to open up a shop with something the local community was going to love. First, she uses the thick and sweet local Williams (Cavendish) bananas from Jared Mateaki at Mana n’ Sons Farm.
Da Local Banana makes their own special recipe, non-dairy dark chocolate for their beautiful bananas. They work out of a commercial kitchen in Wailuku and carefully roll them in other toppings to make their line of killer dessert bananas.
“We wait two to three minutes for chocolate and toppings to harden and then place bags over the top of the banana and heat seal the bottom,” says Gneiting. “On our wholesale bananas, we place custom designed labels on them that present our logo on the front and the ingredients list/barcode on back. We freeze them again in labeled freezer boxes until they go out to the stand or are delivered to our wholesale accounts.”
Their bananas come in several different flavors: Hulapalooza, which is rolled in coconut and macadamia nuts; Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, rolled in fresh coconut; Auto-mac-nut, rolled in fresh Maui macadamia nuts; Da Big Kahuna, which is dipped in chocolate and peanut butter, then rolled in peanuts and sea salt; and the W/nutz, which is simply rolled in almonds. The Skinny is a banana dipped only in chocolate.
They’re all scrumptious, and fairly healthy for a frozen treat. Bananas are naturally low in fat and sodium, but are a good source of potassium, fiber and vitamin B6.
“We make sure that only one topping is out on our tables at a time and that the tables are sanitized after as not to mix the toppings for allergy reasons,” says Gneiting. “Our Wailuku-based commercial kitchen is a dairy-free kitchen that’s also rented out to two other tenants who cook raw foods. One of the girls, Amy Alexander, has her own vegan cupcake line called ‘Baked by Amy’ and we sell her cupcakes at our stand.”
The stand operates roadside at Makena Beach, where you’ll find the girls hacking cold coconuts open for customers, as well as selling frozen banana treats, fruit kabobs, the vegan cupcakes, water and juice. Prices for small bananas start at $3, the Skinny is $5 and the fancy toppings are $6. Small coconuts are $6 while large ones are $8. Their vegan cupcakes are $3 or two for $5. Ask for their kama’aina discount–it gets you 50 cents off.
You will find Da Local Banana cart from Sunday to Friday in Makena, running from about 10am to 5:30pm. On Saturdays, they are at the Maui Swap Meet in Kahului. Da Local Banana is also a regular at Wailuku First Friday–look for the cart on Market Street.
If you’re not close to any of their locations, that’s fine because they are probably at a store near you. Look for Da Local Banana treats at Hawaiian Moons, Cash n Carry, Ulupalakua Ranch Store, Mana Foods, Down to Earth, Morihara Store, Tom’s Mini Mart and the Honokowai Farmer’s Market.