HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was the start of another episode. Danno and Chin Ho Kelly were leaning over their car. Danno's mouth was still full, but he still found room to remark, "It's should be illegal it's so good. What the hell is it?" Chin Ho replied, "Coco puffs. Liliha Bakery sells 7,000 of these a day."
It seems every week another local business gets a plug like this on Hawaii Five-0. Take the Battleship Missouri Memorial for instance. It served as the backdrop when Steve McGarett met the governor for the first time in the pilot episode. It's also in the credits at the opening of every show. And it also had its own episode. An ex-Navy Seal took a group of visitors hostage.
Since then, tourists have been pouring in. Last December the Missouri saw 25% more visitors than any other December on record. And just last month they saw 30,000 paid customers.
Michael Carr, the President and COO of the Battleship Missouri Memorial says, "We had a record year in 2010, I think driven by a number of things, the publicity that we got from drydock, the fact that tourism has improved, but I think the Five-0 Effect certainly had a positive impact on the later part of the year."
Carr says the Missouri never paid for the publicity. In fact, Five-0 paid them a site fee and even let the Memorial authorities look over the script before shooting. "The alleged suspect was supposed to come on covered in blood," remarks Carr. "We're like, we don't let people through the gate covered in blood. So they actually had to change it."
Five-0 fans know the character Kamekona as the face of Waiola Shave Ice. But in real life, it's Jerry Lee who's owned the shop for 30-plus years. He still doesn't know why the producers chose to feature his business. "It could be just the name 'Waiola,'" he says. "It's Hawaiian, versus some other Japanese name."
He calculates an additional 20% in shave ice sales since his business' name appeared in the pilot. And he says T-shirt sales are up 30%. He even has a shirt with Kamekona's likeness on it. He has a tough time keeping that one in stock.
Still, there's just one more thing he wants from Kamekona. "I wanna meet badly," he says. "I want to invite him here, have a shave ice, take a picture and we can hang it on the wall here and have the words that say 'founders,' you know? Because I always tell people he's the owner, and I'm the brother."
Kona Brewing Co. has seen a HUGE boost from it's appearance in the show. Steve McGarett is always drinking their beer. In fact, the show's alpha male has been heard asking for the company's signature "Longboard" brew in several episodes. How did that help? Well in the 4th quarter of last year they saw a 60% increase in beer sales.
"It's probably added 10,000 barrels of beer to the sales over the 4th quarter and into the beginning of the 1st quarter," says Mattson Davis, President of Kona Brewing. "It's just been, that's 10,000 on top of the growth we were already experiencing."
But for all the products featured on the show, the biggest product has got to be Hawaii itself.
I asked Steve Spalding, a tourist from Michigan if seeing the sunny beaches and blue skies on TV during the winter made him want to come here. He replied, "Yes! I've been dying to come here. Been watching this show since it started and I've been dying to come."
And when you think about it, the show is still in its first season. Who knows how much stronger the Five-0 Effect will get.