Flowers and candy

By Lynn Cook / Special to the Star-Advertiser on April 26, 2014

Golden-yellow protea blossoms at Big Island Candies in Hilo. (Photos by Lynn Cook/Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Golden-yellow protea blossoms at Big Island Candies in Hilo. (Photos by Lynn Cook/Special to the Star-Advertiser)

You simply don’t expect a stunning floral display in a candy store. Lance Duyao, marketing guru of Big Island Candies, is forever inspired by hula, hence the floor-to-ceiling Merrie Monarch color-themed display that fills the entry of the store on Hinano Street. It’s only a few blocks from the hula stadium. Shoppers come to an abrupt stop in their quest for boxes of Chocolate-Dipped Macadamia Nut Shortbread Cookies. Cameras come out and they wait their turn to snap a shot that the folks back home will simply not believe.

This year Duyao’s WOW factor is a giant bowl filled with floating golden-yellow protea blossoms and tall containers of every possible island exotic. We are talking over 7 feet tall. Golden urns curve through the center court and the entire flower design is connected to the heavens (ceiling) by strings of clear glass balls filled with water and more protea blossoms, like bubbles floating in the air.

The elaborate floral display is the work of Lance Duyao of Big Island Candies.

The elaborate floral display is the work of Lance Duyao of Big Island Candies.

Designer Duyao says he “raids the yards of everyone I know, starting with my own.” Add sampling cookies, and Kona-grown coffee leads the way to a window to the factory and a store full of cookie heaven.

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Lynn Cook is a freelance arts and cultural writer who has studied hula for 25 years.