Food - Drink
The Debated Origins Of The Pu-Pu Platter
Pu-pu platters are ubiquitous at Chinese-American restaurants and tiki bars, where they traditionally consist of bite-sized foods — like egg rolls, fried wontons, crab rangoon, skewered beef, fried shrimp — all arranged around a flame for reheating. The name comes from the Hawaiian word pū-pū, meaning shell or mollusk, but it’s been co-opted to refer to appetizers.
The debated origin of the pu-pu platter can be traced back to two places in California — Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt’s Don the Beachcomber in Los Angeles, and Victor Bergeron’s Trader Vic’s in the San Francisco Bay Area. Both establishments were at the forefront of tiki culture in the 1930s because the founders were enamored with honky-tonk island-esque ambiance.
As to who served the pu-pu platter first — per Sampan, a review of three vintage menus from Don the Beachcomber didn’t find any mention of the platter, while a Trader Vic’s menu from the ‘50s mentions hot pupus and Polynesian hors d'oeuvres. Yet, author of "The Great Tiki Drink Book," Jennifer Trainer Thompson, credits Gantt for introducing the pu-pu platter in 1934.