Tiki Time!

It’s 1933 and we all need an escape from the hard times of the Great Depression. Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt opens the restaurant and bar, Don the Beachcomber, in Los Angeles and thus begins the time of the Tiki. Polynesian masks adorn the walls, decorations, music, and fire set the ambiance of escapism fantasy. Later, Trader Vic’s opens with the same sensibility, but with a wider reach. Franchising all over the country, Trader Vic’s turns this fantasy of the South Pacific into a nationwide phenomenon, a movement with oversized drinks often made of rum and made sweet with fruit juice. World War II dawns, bringing more Americans than ever to the Pacific Theater and further fueling Tiki’s popularity. Kon-Tiki, by Thor Heyerdahl, and Tales of the South Pacific, by James Michener, are published, feeding the fever, and Tiki culture booms is secured in history as a case study for escapism and fun in a time of turmoil.