When British explorer Captain James Cook stumbled upon the islands of Hawaii in 1778, he dubbed them the Sandwich Islands to honor his sponsor, the Earl of Sandwich. (I have to wonder if the Earl of Panini was jealous. 🙂 )
I found this exceptionally well researched paper on the history of Hawaii’s name change. (Do take a few minutes to read the paper. It’s excellent!) Here’s an excerpt,
Captain James Cook’s name for the Hawaiian Islands, the Sandwich Islands, was widely accepted and commonly used by foreigners and foreign governments for well over fifty years after his arrival.
As you might imagine, the name Sandwich Islands was not popular with Hawaiians. I found it interesting to learn that Americans weren’t too pleased with the name either. Americans aided Hawaiians in reclaiming their rightful name of the islands.