If you think the fight over the last slice is vicious, try broaching the topic of pineapple pizza at your next party. There’s a clear line in the sand when it comes to this tropical treat – people tend to love it or hate it, with no real in between.
Is ordering a pineapple-topped pizza a perilous party foul? And where did the pineapple pizza come from, anyway? We tackle those questions and more:
Who invented the pineapple pizza?
As you might have guessed, the pineapple pizza is not native to Italy. However, you may be surprised to learn that it is not native to Hawaii, either, even though the pineapple-and-ham topped pie is known as a “Hawaiian pizza.”
The first Hawaiian pizza was created by Sam Panopoulos, a Canadian diner owner who was born in Greece. In 1962, North America was enthralled with “tiki culture,” or at least some of its culinary elements. Canned pineapple was a huge seller in places that could not grow the fruit, and Panopoulos endeavored to break the mold of the mundane topping choices that were offered by Canadian pizzerias at the time.
With a limited group of other toppings to draw from, Panopoulos settled on pairing pineapple with ham. The locals said he was crazy, but the chef had a hit on his hands as he accidentally created a flavor combination that was hard to find elsewhere.
“In those days, the only sweet and sour thing you would get is Chinese pork, you know, with the sweet and sour sauce,” said Panopoulos in a 2015 interview. “Otherwise there was no mix.”
Pineapple Pizza: an international crisis.
Many rejected the pineapple pizza when it was first served in the 1960s and the debate continues to rage today. Because of its many fans and detractors, pineapple pizza is a hot-button issue, and Icelandic President Gudni Johannesson can vouch for that.
In 2017, a high school student asked Johannesson for his thoughts on pineapple as a pizza topping. Politicians tend to keep things neutral, but Johanneson told the crowd that he is “fundamentally opposed” to the idea and would like to ban its existence in Iceland.
Johanneson touched a nerve. Soon after, the most powerful man in Iceland was forced to issue a statement in which he insisted that he would not outlaw pineapple pies.
“I do not have the power to make laws which forbid people to put pineapples on their pizza,” he wrote. “I am glad I do not hold such power.”
The controversy was not soon forgotten. In 2018, a Canadian TV show put Johanneson’s feet to the oven fire and he admitted that he went a “step too far” in his quest to take pineapple pizza off of the menu.
The Rock weighs in.
Pineapple pizza has a strong advocate in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who downed an entire Hawaiian pie to get necessary carbs before filming his upcoming “Fast And Furious” spinoff. Perhaps sensing some backlash, The Rock explained that he likes to put tequila in his oatmeal, so he has no shame in saying that pineapple and ham is his jam. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you don’t approve.
Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is also on the record as being a member of “#TeamPineapple”. After Johanneson’s global cause célèbre, Trudeau took to Twitter to support the “delicious Southwestern Ontario creation.”
Is pineapple on pizza more popular than anchovies on pizza?
Pineapple and anchovies are both controversial toppings, even though the latter traces its roots directly back to the birthplace of pizza. As it turns out, people are far more open-minded to fruit than fish.
In a national survey of pizza lovers, Slice found that 71% of people would rather have pineapple on their pizza than anchovies. Still, 29% of respondents cast their vote as anchovy lovers/pineapple haters, choosing brininess over sweetness.
How do Italians feel about pineapple pizza?
Recently, some brave souls in Italy went undercover to deliver pineapple pizza to unsuspecting residents of Naples, the city responsible for the original pizza. Customers did not see the humor in this hilarious prank and some of the encounters even took a violent turn.
The lesson here is that there is nothing wrong with enjoying pineapple, or any other unusual topping, on pizza. Just don’t try to serve it in Naples.
Zach Links is a freelance senior copywriter and food journalist. In addition to serving as the editor of The Sauce, he’s also the lead writer and editor of ProFootballRumors.com.
Follow him on Twitter @ZachLinks and on Instagram @FatZachLinks.