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Pineapple Pizza - History of the controversial Hawaiian Pizza

Pizza is probably one of the few foods that hold a special place in pretty much everyone’s hungry hearts. It’s delicious, the toppings, trimmings, and styles are infinite, and it pleases everyone from the pickiest eaters to those with difficult dietary requirements.

Be that as it may, there is one pizza topping that divides friends, families, countries and even political leaders: pineapple. While some pizza aficionados might crave that sweet, sour and salty combination of fruit combined with melted cheese, others cannot stand the idea of pineapple on pizza. 

The debate will likely continue for decades to come - and likely you have a strong opinion on it - but how did it all begin?

The history behind pineapple on Pizza

Have you ever asked yourself, who in their right mind would chuck pineapple slices onto a pizza? Well, to answer your question, his name is Sam Panopoulos, a Greek immigrant who moved to Canada in 1954. He created the first Hawaiian pizza at his restaurant, Satellite, located in Chatham, Canada.

Sam’s restaurant focused mainly on traditional American fare like burgers and fries, but he eventually started experimenting with trendier foods like Chinese American dishes and pizza. As for the name “Hawaiian” - that was simply appropriated from the pineapple can.

In 2017 while giving an interview to the BBC, Panopoulos said he and his brothers enjoyed the contrast between the pineapple’s sweetness and the savoury flavour of the ham also added to the pizza. He declared “We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste,” and then he added, “We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments.”

Why do people hate pineapple on Pizza

The most common argument used by those who can’t accept pineapple on pizza is that pineapple breaks with tradition – that fruit, tomato aside, has no place on a pizza. Many foods have taken their lumps over the years. Avocado toast, cake pops and kale Caesar salads come to mind. But nothing has sustained the hate like Hawaiian pizza, the most recognisable pie that features chunks of the divisive fruit.

The controversy reached fever pitch when in 2017 Gudni Thorlacius Johannesson, President of Iceland, caused a minor international incident when he joked with school pupils that, given the chance, he would ban pineapple on pizza. It led to Hawaiian pizzas being sent to the Icelandic Embassy in London.

Another pineapple pizza hater - celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay - tried to end the debate once and for all by taking to Twitter to declare, “Pineapple does not go on top of pizza.”

If you've read this far, you probably think everyone hates Hawaiian pizza, but that is simply not true. In response to the President of Iceland Incident of 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter, saying: "I have a pineapple. I have a pizza. And I stand behind this delicious Southwestern Ontario creation. #TeamPineapple."

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, a man who is not to be messed with, wrote in an Instagram caption, "As for my pizza toppings - keep in mind, I'm the guy who likes to put tequila and brown sugar in my oatmeal, so pineapple on pizza is MY JAM — with ham." So remember, if you love pineapple on pizza you are not alone!

How to eat pineapple Pizza

If you have never tried pineapple on pizza, well, it is time to get your pizza oven ready for action. You can’t pick a side before trying it right?!

We have a couple of delicious pineapple on pizza recipes to inspire you.

The first recipe, Ham and Pineapple Pizza, is a twist on the classic Hawaiian Pizza. Chef Joe made a sweet yet sharp caramelised pineapple puree and pairing it with the super salty and crispy prosciutto – we think there might be a few converts to #teampineapple with this…

The second recipe is the Pineapple & Pancetta Detroit Style Pizza, it might just please the whole family … maybe! Make sure you make plenty of the garlic sour-cream as it’s amazing with the crispy edges.