Poi Products
An Ode To The Poi Bag -- And John Thomas
By Craig Walsh
May 31, 2008 - 12:52:12 AM

When the controlling interest in McClellan and Smith Inc. was purchased in 1997, the Company changed its name to The Poi Company, Inc., and its brand name from Ho`ai to simply "POI."

The Company hired Kona-based artist John Thomas to design a new logo.  John wasn't a graphic designer, but an artist of considerable talent.  His simple design was to use the word POI on the background of a taro leaf:

John Thomas' POI logo

We've discoverd that printing companies and graphic designers can alter logos along the way, but this is the original artwork from the original digital file furnished to the Company by John.

His design then became the label for poi produced by The Poi Company from 1998 until its closure in May 2002:

A Poi Company poi bag, photographed by Camera Hawaii

After the demise of The Poi Company, we moved to Europe -- and haven't been back in Hawaii since then.  We've occasionally had some of the freeze-dried poi that the Company produced in 2001.  Incredibly it still tastes fresh seven years later:  something not possible with powdered, dehydrated poi.

I was doing a bit of Google surfing the other day, and was surprised to see a remarkable transforamtion in the Taro Brand poi bag.

This is the traditional bag that I remember:

Traditional Taro Brand poi bag

But it would appear that the traditional bag has partially morphed into a bag that looks, at least in my opinion, colourably similar to the John Thomas design:

Apparent change in Taro Brand poi bag

A few more photos of the new Taro Brand bag:

New Taro Brand poi bag

And a close-up (slightly out-of-focus, sorry):

New Taro Brand poi bag

John died in 2001, a year before The Poi Company Inc. closed its doors.  But it is a tribute to his talent that his erstwhile logo survives, in a similar format, on the poi bags of a former competitor.

I think of John Thomas often.  We have two of his large paintings in our home, many thousands of miles from Hawaii.

John Thomas - The Letter (Kona)

John Thomas - Kane Pua`a

E pili mau na pomaika`i i a `oe

Copyright 1998-2009 by Craig W Walsh