The Aloha Bowl was established by Mackay Yanagisawa, a sportsman of Oahu in 1982. With the exception of the 1983-86 playings, the Aloha Bowl was traditionally played on Christmas morning in Honolulu. For most of its playings, the game was sponsored by Jeep Corporation. The bowl originally applied for certification by the NCAA Division I Championship Committee in 1981, but certification was delayed until 1982. The inaugural game was played in 1982 and the last game was played in 2000, after it lost its sponsorship as a result of a corporate merger between Jeep and DaimlerChrysler. In 1998 and 1999, the Aloha Bowl was part of a doubleheader followed by the Oahu Bowl; the 1998 event was the first doubleheader in American college football history.
Since Jeep dropped its sponsorship, the bowl committees of the Hawaiian bowl games elected to move the games to the U.S. mainland. The Oahu Bowl moved to Seattle and was played as the Seattle Bowl for two years. The Aloha Bowl was to move to San Francisco, but before the move could be completed the game lost its bowl certification. San Francisco received a bowl game for the 2001 season anyway, which is now known as the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Hawaiians did not remain without a bowl for long, however, as a new bowl committee received certification for a Christmastime game in 2002 at Aloha Stadium.
In the "Twas the Nut Before Christmas" episode of King of the Hill, first aired on December 17, 2000, Hank Hill exclaims "Tomorrow, Christmas service falls right between the Aloha Bowl and the Oahu Bowl."