As for the Orange County connection, Jepsen said, "The palm trees, the Tikis, the backyard luaus fit in really well in Orange County, where you already have this semitropical environment, a very good setting for the Tiki motif. As for why people embraced it, I think there are several reasons. For one, Tiki was a symbol of escape. We didn't know about these parts of the world in the 1930s, Polynesia and such, and all of a sudden in the 1940s, everyone is being sent there to fight! Next, Americans were reading about it. And our collective curiosity was raised about this exotic culture.
"Then the war ends, and James Michener's book, 'Tales of the South Pacific,' becomes a best-seller." The book was based on the writer's anecdotes while a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy on the island of Espiritu Santo.
"From there, the book becomes a popular musical called 'South Pacific,' then a hit movie. And now, Tiki and Polynesian culture are pop culture phenomena. Then you have Thor Heyerdahl's 'Kon-Tiki' book, which presented several theories that, while perhaps lacking in anthropological accuracy, was great, exciting reading. Another best-seller, and more Tiki lore being embraced by America."