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A plate of OSO-ONO malassadas

Portuguese Filhos
A plate of Portuguese filhos

Honolulu Advertiser Article Including Chef Mavro
Upscale lilikoi malassadas at Chef Mavro in Hawaii


Portugal & Hawaii

Map of the AzoresMalassadas (two s's) originated on the island of São Miguel which was a Portuguese colony. Apparently, Azorians on the other eight islands called them filhós.

Beginning in 1878 and continuing on for a decade, Hawaii solicited immigrant workers from Portugal. They brought the desire (and the recipes) for malassadas with them.

Many Portuguese families had their own recipes and malassadas were made in their homes whenever they had the craving, but especially on Strove Tuesday when the consumption of something truly indulgent is okay. In 1952, Frank Leonard Rego founded Leonard's Bakery in Hawaii. It was the first commercial offering of malassadas. No one knows when malassadas began to be spelled with one "s" instead of two, but the photo of the sign outside Leonard's Bakery at left offers a hint.

Since then, malassadas have become an Island standard. Many have strong opinions about who offers the best ones. It's also big business. For example, in 1996 at the annual two-day Punahou Carnival, an estimated 320,000 where sold requiring the efforts of 480 workers over the course of 10 shifts. On July 19, 2003, over 4,400 OSO-ONO malassadas were sold by the Hukilau at the 8-hour Sounds of Hawaii event in the San Francisco Bay Area.

To find out more about the history of the malasada and other fried dough desserts, click here.

The best malassadas are made with OSO-ONO Fried Dessert Dough.

In addition to malassadas, OSO-ONO Fried Dessert Dough is the basis for the following ethnic fried desserts: andagi, baursaki, beignets, bunuelos, filhos, fritoles, koeksisters, krapfen, langos, lokmas, loukoumades, oliebollen, paczki, sopapillas, struffolis, sufganiyot, vetkoek, and zeppoles. Click here for details.

Email us a comment about this page

On 2/22/04, we received the following comment from JAC in Middleton, Idaho:
"I am of Azorean descendent - 2nd generation removed. As a child growing up in a totally Portuguese family, February was traditionally the month to make filhos. And since it was my birthday month, I just naturally assumed there was a correlation ! Actually, the final preparations for Lent had much more to do with it than me. I have since moved away from my family. Married a non-Portuguese sweetheart and have two handsome halfbreed boys. I try to instill as much of the Portuguese traditions as possible into their lives. Soooo, today we made filhos. I called my mother yesterday for her recipe (old methodology) and then surfed the net for research sake (data, data, data). The results were terrific. Ok, ok so where do you guys come into the picture? In my research I stumbled onto your website which gave us the history of fried dough and the historical contribution of the Azoreans to this sweet treat. Thanks for your research and pulling it all together - I for one am grateful you crawled into Alice's rabbit hole.