[Ed. – No stone left unturned.]
It is an unquestionably difficult time for the hospitality industry. Every day, another restaurant shutters, one more bar pulls its steel gate down for good. Since its invention, one kind of watering hole has seen America through its most grueling times: the tiki bar.
But the roots of tiki are far from the Pacific Islands. A Maori word for the carved image of a god or ancestor, tiki became synonymous in the United States and elsewhere for gimmicky souvenirs and décor. Now a new generation of beverage-industry professionals are shining a light on the genre’s history of racial inequity and cultural appropriation, which has long been ignored because it clashes with the carefree aesthetic. Let’s peel back the pineapple leaves to examine the choices that created a marketing mainstay.