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Long before the Rainforest Cafe, there was another kind of exotic escape. After WWII, the “tiki” bar–an American mix of Polynesian, Hawaiian and other South Seas cultures–rose quickly in popularity. Ex-soldiers now living in suburbia wanted to treat their wives to a little of the South Pacific paradise they’d experienced, but without the warships!
So, it was head-first into these dark, mysterious, and fun places with names such as Trader Vic’s, Don the Beachcomber, the Mai Kai, Ports of Call and the Kahiki, where a drink in a hollowed-out coconut shell or tiki mug you could take home was the norm, and the Pu-Pu platter was meant for sharing.
By the early 1980s, however, the tiki bar was all but extinct in North America. By the late-1990s, younger, keen observers of popular culture were finding mugs and menus in thrift stores, and, by the early-2000s, a full-on tiki revival was underway.
Today, as Dave discovers, there are a growing number of people who choose “tiki” as a way to live The Retro Life.