Where was "Hawaiian pizza" actually invented?
And the answer: Canada.
Hawaiian pizza was created in Canada in 1962 by a Greek immigrant named Sam Panopoulos. In his diner in Ontario, he was inspired by the American Chinese dish, Sweet and Sour Chicken.
Panopoulos, along with his brothers, owned a restaurant in the province of Ontario. The food was initially very simple, and the menu contained no more than traditional diner dishes such as pancakes and burgers. However, inspired by a recent trip to Naples, Panopoulos decided to introduce pizza to the menu.
It was a relatively new dish in North America. At the time, most pizzas they served were topped with mushrooms, bacon or pepperoni. Yet, Panopoulos had other ideas. As he became more adventurous with other dishes, including Americanized versions of Chinese meals, he decided to take a risk with his pizzas as well. Panopoulos added canned pineapple to one pizza with ham— unsure whether or not it would be a hit. To his delight, Panopoulos found that the combination of sweet and savory was a winner with his customers.
The addition to pineapple on pizza could not come at a more opportune time. With the recent formalization of Hawaii's statehood in 1959, American culture was marked by a growing fascination with Tiki culture. Canned pineapple began to be imported into North America, along with pineapple juice— providing Panopoulos with his crucial ingredient. As for the name, the brand of tinned pineapple was called Hawaiian, so Panopoulos’ invention was named in its honor.
The topping does not come without its fair share of impassioned opinions tho. IN fact, the division between pro-pineapple pizza and anti-pineapple pizza has spurred discourse that's even reached the political realm. In 2017, President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, expressed his disdain for the Hawaiian Pizza, saying that if he had the power to pass the law, he would ban pineapple on pizza in Iceland. Following the Iceland incident, Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to say: “I have a pineapple. I have a pizza. And I stand behind this delicious creation.”
Would you put pineapple on your pizza? Learn more about the popular topping here.